Limited service pregnancy centers—also known as "crisis pregnancy centers"—are not medical clinics, but non-profit organizations, usually religiously affiliated, that are dedicated to opposing abortion. They use strategic advertising to appeal to people seeking free assistance when facing an unintended pregnancy, and establish themselves with social service agencies as an appropriate referral for pregnant people seeking a full range of options.
What they don't advertise is that they are not medical clinics; that they are staffed primarily by volunteers who lack medical training; and that they are expressly opposed to abortion and any form of contraception.
Over the past several years, we've heard countless stories about women who have received false or misleading information from crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), were subjected to inappropriately long waiting periods for pregnancy test results, or left without receiving the abortion care referral they needed. In some cases, the clinic staff withheld a woman's private records or pregnancy results because they believed she would later seek an abortion.
That's when we partnered with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (formerly Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington) to conduct an investigation into these centers in Washington State. In 2011, we published our findings from this investigation, along with some recommendations for keeping CPCs in check.
We are conducting another round of investigations and are working to update our report. If you have been to a CPC and have an experience you'd like to share with us, please do so here. Your story will remain confidential, unless you request otherwise, and you can share your story anonymously.
We believe that people facing unintended pregnancies are entitled to comprehensive, medically accurate, non-coercive, and judgement-free information about their options. Your stories will help us understand how to best advocate for your right to this information, and your access to a full range of reproductive health care.
Photo courtesy of Esparta Palma | Creative Commons