Target: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Goal: Require crisis pregnancy centers to openly disclose that they do not provide abortions or comprehensive birth control services and do not offer referrals to women seeking these options
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) consider themselves the faith-based, pro-life alternative to women’s health clinics like Planned Parenthood. Their services are specifically tailored to the needs of women expecting to give birth, and although they do not provide reproductive health services, they usually open inside hospitals or beside actual health clinics to establish a sense of legitimacy. Women seeking an abortion or birth control are not given referrals; instead, they are consulted by an employee who presents them with medically inaccurate information that prevents them from making informed decisions about their reproductive health. Free speech and religious freedom have been successfully used in their defense, as attempts to legally mandate open disclosure have been struck down in a manner that U.S Circuit Judges describe as “indefensible” and “more fitting a kangaroo court.” Thankfully, in Baltimore, a hearing has already been scheduled by the Court of Appeals that intends to put an end to these deceitful practices.
The services provided by these “limited service” pregnancy centers—free ultrasounds, post-abortive counseling, adoption consultations, child-care supplies, and financial aid—are unquestionably valuable to expectant mothers in need, but they are not a replacement for adequate health care. CPCs insist that they stand behind the pro-choice movement and are simply an alternative, one of many options a woman has when facing an unplanned pregnancy; in practice, this explanation is tenuous at best.
Pregnancy centers are motivated by a religion that considers abortion and birth control immoral and prevents them from approaching those issues objectively. When encouragement and support fail to prevent women from choosing abortion, CPC employees will resort to blatant dishonesty. They will make disingenuous links between abortion and suicide, birth control and cancer, etc.; exaggerate the risks of birth control and abortion while downplaying (or denying) the risks of pregnancy; cite dubious statistics; and reference scientific studies that have either been disproved or taken out of context. If scare tactics fail, CPC employees will attempt to stall by encouraging women to “go home and think about it” and by giving inaccurate information about reproductive health options, abortion law, and the effectiveness of birth control.
This deception has thus far been protected under the umbrella of religious freedom and right to free speech even though it results in misinformation and denies women the right to make informed health decisions based on complete, factual, and medically accurate information. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not face opposition for the services they provide, but rather because they manipulate women in need of reproductive health care into believing their only choices are those accepted in the context of a specific religion.
Sign the petition below to express your support for this upcoming appeal, so that Crisis Pregnancy Centers will be obligated to openly disclose their religious affiliation along with the reproductive health services they are unwilling to provide.
Dear U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit,
I would like to thank you for reconsidering the decision made in favor of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and their clandestine business practices. I would like to further express the importance of enabling women to make fully informed decisions about their reproductive health and protecting them from the underhanded tactics used by religiously biased organizations.
Women deserve access to birth control without being subjected to deceptive scare tactics; citizens who value access to adequate health care and a woman’s right to choose will truly appreciate the advantages of open disclosure. I urge you to vote in favor of protecting women’s rights in this upcoming appeal.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Torsten Mangner via flickr