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RH Reality Check: Legal Voice Reports on WA's Limited Service Pregnancy Center Legislation

By Erica C. Barnett January 25, 2011

National reproductive-rights blog RH Reality Check reports today on a study released yesterday by Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood (which Legal Voice's Sara Ainsworth noted during her testimony in Olympia yesterday) on so-called crisis pregnancy centers---limited-service centers that don't provide abortions or birth control.

Pro-choice groups accuse such centers of luring pregnant young women, typically low-income women and minorities, under the premise that they provide a full range of services, then giving them inaccurate information about the risks of abortion and contraception. The groups want the state to require limited service pregnancy centers to disclose which services they do and don't provide; if the state adopts the legislation, it would be the first in the nation to do so.

According to the study:

Every center visited in person (except Angelorum Pregnancy Center in Seattle, at which testers were never assisted after waiting for 30 minutes) provided false or misleading information about abortion and pregnancy; an additional four centers provided false information over the telephone. Care Net of Tacoma told a tester that “abortion is a blind procedure... that opens up the cervix and can damage it resulting in greater potential for miscarriage in later life.” 4 Staff members at this same organization told a tester that “abortion can damage a person emotionally” and that “abortions have serious adverse effects like PTSD, infection, depression and inability to carry [future pregnancies] to term.”

One clinic even told a Legal Voice tester that it would be “illegal” for a patient to use medical records generated by the center for "abortion or abortion-related services."

RH Reality Check's Amie Newman writes:
If there is a reason for lying by omission, aside from an obvious desire to bury legal abortion as an option for women, and not providing potential clients with information upfront that abortion care will not be discussed, information about legal abortion options will not be offered and, foremost, that abortion is not a service provided by the center, it's hard to see what that is. [...]

Staff members at local centers like Care Net and Life Choices also told testers that condoms were ineffective at preventing against AIDS - that the AIDS virus is "so small it goes right through condoms like a grain of rice through a tennis racquet; condoms do not do anything to protect against STDs."
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