Stop Anti-Abortion Front Groups From Deceiving Women

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Target: Members of Congress

Goal: Stop crisis pregnancy centers from falsely advertising their services and providing inaccurate and biased medical information meant to deceive pregnant women.

Three Democratic legislators recently reintroduced a bill that would protect women from the deceptive tactics of crisis pregnancy centers, many of which have been found to provide inaccurate medical information to pregnant women and falsely advertise their services. Reintroduced by Senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, and Representative Carolyn Maloney, the bill known as the Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act would allow the Federal Trade Commission to penalize the crisis pregnancy centers for false advertisement of abortion services.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) frame themselves as alternatives to women’s health clinics like Planned Parenthood. Most are affiliated with right-wing religious organizations, and many receive government funding. Some CPCs do provide accurate and unbiased health information regarding pregnancy, but many do not. Because the ultimate goal of many CPCs is to end abortion, they have been found to intentionally confuse and mislead women using deceptive tactics and religious or conservative propaganda under the guise of “counseling services.” Pregnant women seeking information about their options at some CPCs have been told that having an abortion may increase their risks of depression, breast cancer, infertility, and “post-abortion syndrome,” a term coined by such groups that refers to severe psychological effects of abortion. None of these claims have any basis in mainstream medicine. Even worse, some women have reported being coerced into having ultrasounds and subjected to graphic anti-abortion films and photographs of disfigured babies and aborted fetuses. Many CPCs falsely advertise their services by using terms such as “family planning information centers” or “abortion services,” even though they are not medical clinics or abortion providers. Some CPCs even use online search engines to redirect women seeking abortion services in their area to anti-abortion centers.

Despite evidence of their unscrupulous methods, CPCs have avoided prosecution by claiming the right to free speech. But when it comes to women’s health and their right to choose, no amount of false advertising or shame-based tactics should be acceptable. Sign the petition below to show support for the Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act and help protect women’s right to accurate and unbiased medical information.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Representative Carolyn Maloney, and members of Congress,

It is the right of every human being—regardless of age, religious beliefs, gender, or socio-economic status—to make accurate and informed decisions about their health. Many crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), however, have routinely and intentionally threatened this right by using deceptive tactics to falsely advertise reproductive health services to pregnant women who seek out medical information about their options.

Some CPCs do provide accurate and unbiased health information regarding pregnancy, but many do not. Most CPCs make it no secret that their ultimate goal is to end abortion in America, yet the methods by which many CPCs aim to achieve this goal are dangerous and dishonest. Many of these centers have been found to intentionally confuse and mislead women using deceptive tactics and religious or conservative propaganda under the guise of “counseling services.” Some women have reported being shamed into having ultrasounds. Others are subjected to graphic anti-abortion films and photographs of disfigured babies and aborted fetuses. Counselors often tell pregnant women that having an abortion may increase their risks of depression, breast cancer, infertility, and “post-abortion syndrome.” All of these claims, including the made-up term “post-abortion syndrome,” have no basis in mainstream medical research. These are not isolated incidences. In fact, according to a 2006 congressional report 20 out of 23 federally funded CPCs provided false information about abortion risks to staff investigators.

Few CPCs are staffed with actual medical professionals, yet they advertise their services by using terms such as “family planning information centers” or “abortion services.” Many CPCs strategically place themselves near true medical centers like Planned Parenthood, with the hope of intercepting or confusing visitors. Some CPCs even use online search engines to redirect women seeking abortion services in their area to anti-abortion centers.

When it comes to women’s health and their right to choose, no amount of false advertising or shame-based tactics is acceptable. The right to accurate and unbiased medical information needs to be protected under the law like any other right, which is why we demand that the Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act be passed into law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: thecrazyfilmgirl via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. This reminds me of the men who were luring women into vans under the guise of being health practitioners giving free breast cancer screenings.

    Both groups are predators out for their own gain, exploiting women who need help.

    This is criminal.

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