Anti-Abortion Extremists Are Diverting Tax Dollars to Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Anti-abortion politicians are siphoning public dollars meant for low-income mothers and their children to fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that coerce poor women and teens seeking an abortion to give birth, further condemning them to long-term economic hardship. Being denied a wanted abortion is a proven predictor of maternal and child poverty.

As the Biden administration advances a proposal to prohibit CPCs from future access to these federal funds, the anti-abortion movement is pushing back in force, claiming CPCs save taxpayer dollars and provide vital healthcare and safety net services to poor families. A first-time analysis of the CPC industry’s own reporting wholly contradicts these claims.

The Anti-Abortion Movement Is in Crisis Communications Mode

The anti-choice movement’s decision to focus their messaging on crisis pregnancy centers—both in the streets of Washington and the halls of Congress—in response to mounting evidence that abortion bans cause women severe harms reflects the movement’s longtime public relations strategy for navigating political obstacles and bad publicity. With daily reports of horrific abortion-ban injuries, polls repeatedly showing that most Americans oppose abortion bans, and the political reality that abortion rights have won in every state where they’ve been on the ballot, anti-abortion strategists are not eager to remind the public of their plans to criminalize all abortion, or of the consequences.

California Brings First-of-its-Kind Lawsuit Against Anti-Abortion Movement’s ‘Abortion Pill Reversal’ Scheme

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s lawsuit charges RealOptions Obria, a five-site crisis pregnancy center chain in Northern California, and the Ohio-based Heartbeat International with violating California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition law by falsely advertising “abortion pill reversal” as safe and effective.

“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance—not lies and misinformation,” Bonta said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

Illinois Law Holds Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Accountable for Misinformation and Fraud

On Thursday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed “The Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act” (SB 1909) into law, prohibiting anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” from using deception or fraud to interfere with a person seeking access to abortion or other reproductive health services. The law became effective as of signing.

Illinois is the fourth state, following Connecticut, Colorado and Vermont, to enact a law reigning in the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers, which often masquerade as reproductive health clinics to lure vulnerable women, and use lies and disinformation about abortion to pressure them to carry pregnancies to term. In applying to both deceptive advertising and fraudulent practices, the Illinois law goes far beyond the Connecticut, Colorado and Vermont laws, which address advertising and, in Colorado and Vermont, specific standards of practice.

“If the medical provider does not lie,” Rep. Margaret Croak said, “they have nothing to worry about.”

The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Pumping Resources into Promoting Fake Clinics—And Google Is Helping

Abortion opponents are now targeting states where abortion remains legal, such as Massachusetts, by pumping resources into a spider web of anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) that work to entrap people searching for reproductive healthcare. And Google made $10.2 million over the last two years running deceptive advertisements for these fake clinics.

“Google … is more than willing to allow advertisers to lie, deceive, limit users’ rights to good information and to healthcare, as long as they get paid in the process.”

Grassroots Progress to Hold Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers Accountable

The crisis pregnancy center industry targets women—especially low-income women, young women, and women of color—using deceptive ads to pose as medical clinics and obscure their anti-abortion mission.

Grassroots reproductive health advocates are taking action to counter CPCs’ disinformation and abuse by advocating for state and local laws to prohibit deceptive advertising, protect health data privacy, advance public education about CPCs, and create avenues for consumer complaints about their deceitful and dangerous practices.

Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Face New Accountability Post-Roe

Post-Roe, the anti-abortion movement is funneling more resources to crisis pregnancy centers that use these tactics in order to block access to abortion healthcare, both in states with bans and in states that protect reproductive rights.

Over 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers across the U.S. provide virtually no medical services, spreading fabricated claims about the dangers of abortion. Public officials are taking actions to hold CPCs accountable for their deceptive practices.