Governor Little Should Support Quality, Affordable Healthcare, not Propaganda

On Tuesday, July 12th, Governor Little spoke at an event hosted by Stanton International, a crisis pregnancy center that is expanding as Planned Parenthood is closing in Boise. KVTB asked about the gap in healthcare services, and Stanton’s Chief Operating Officer, Danielle Versluys, promised on air that “Planned Parenthood leaving does not leave a gap.” Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Our organization co-wrote a paper in 2021 called “Designed to Deceive: A Study of the Crisis Pregnancy Center Industry in Nine States.” The report, including a section dedicated to Idaho, explored the activities and funding sources behind the vast network of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) around the world -- a key driver of anti-abortion extremism.

CPCs, often referred to as “fake clinics,” are set up to look like real clinics. Their staff may wear white coats or scrubs and their advertising often mimics that of full-service reproductive health clinics. In reality, most crisis pregnancy centers offer no actual medical services whatsoever. They may offer drug store pregnancy tests and keepsake ultrasounds, but the people who perform these ultrasounds often do not have the skill to read the results, much less diagnose complications.

The real purpose of these so-called clinics is to advance the anti-abortion movement – by spreading misinformation about abortion and contraception; collecting enormous sums of money; and exploiting unsuspecting patients’ personal health information. While their messaging can be persuasive, it’s imperative to understand the cavernous gaps in their so-called services.

Stanton’s website claims that it offers “limited ultrasound exams” and can provide “verification of pregnancy,” but says nothing about Stanton’s ability (or lack thereof) to diagnose pregnancy complications. Where do patients go for that?

In fact, it does not appear that Stanton provides any OB/GYN care. According to its website, Stanton simply provides referrals for OB/GYN care. If Stanton really fills the gap Planned Parenthood leaves behind, why would it need to provide referrals for services Planned Parenthood typically provides on site every day?

Stanton also claims it provides STI testing, but does not purport to offer treatment for these infections. In fact, it is not clear whether Stanton conducts the testing itself or simply offers testing kits that clients could obtain themselves through online providers.

Conspicuously absent on their website is any promise that they will provide information about birth control options. In fact, the list of “services” Stanton offers does not even include birth control.

Perhaps the most egregious of the “services” Stanton claims to offer is abortion pill reversal -- a “treatment” that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has denounced as unsafe and unsupported by medical research.

As Ms. Versluy notes, Stanton’s goal is to ensure that pregnant people “make the right choice.” This begs the question: the right choice according to whom?

Unfortunately, CPCs pose another, less obvious threat to patients. The absence of any privacy policy on Stanton’s website, much less any assurance that Stanton “clinics” are HIPAA compliant, is revealing. Indeed, HIPAA does not apply to most crisis pregnancy centers precisely because they do not provide any actual medical services and do not bill insurance. That means CPCs can use the personal information they collect from patients however they see fit, including to advance civil and criminal claims against patients and providers.

Stanton claims the Boise community has lost nothing with the closure of Planned Parenthood. This claim is patently false. Boise has lost cancer screenings and prevention, infertility services, and expert reproductive care. They have lost a clinic able to provide life-saving care to people experiencing miscarriages when hospitals refuse to treat them, a problem that is only going to get worse now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. They have lost knowledgeable, licensed, expert clinicians who can not only diagnose problems, but provide you with treatment to address them.

Crisis pregnancy centers are propaganda machines, designed to perpetuate an extremist political agenda. Governor Little should be promoting quality healthcare for pregnant people, not selling snake oil.

Want to learn more about crisis pregnancy centers in Idaho? Read our report here.