Have you heard the term Crisis Pregnancy Center before? They’re often called Pregnancy or Women’s Health “Resource Centers.” Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or CPCs, masquerade themselves as a helpful place to go if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant and want to talk to someone about your options. In reality, CPCs are fake clinics run by anti-abortion advocates that aim to deceive, scare, and spread false and medically inaccurate information about abortion. Our comrades in the Pittsburgh DSA Socalist Feminist Commitee put together tips on how to identify CPCs that you can find on their website. Basically, the goal of a CPC is to take advantage of pregnant people and steer them away from making the reproductive choice that best fits their needs, and convince them that abortions are harmful. As if that wasn’t bad enough, CPCs are usually ran by volunteers — not medical professionals. CPCs don’t perform any reproductive health care aside from basic pregnancy testing (the same tests you can get yourself at the drugstore!) and sometimes ultrasounds.
As previously mentioned, Crisis Pregnancy Centers tell blatant lies to the people who visit them in hopes of receiving actual help and care. Based on research conducted by NARAL, 32% of CPCs in Ohio attempt to link breast cancer to abortion, 30% claim abortion can cause fertility issues, 46% claim abortion leads to ‘post-abortion depression’ or other mental health issues, and 38% made other misleading or plain untrue statements regarding the safety abortion. In reality, abortion is an incredibly safe procedure that can even be done at home, if using medication abortion, or quickly in a clinic if receving a D&C or surgical abortion. Abortions are safer than pregancy and giving birth! Another common tactic employed by CPCs is the use of extreme Christian rhetoric to cause further alarm about abortion, such as telling visitors that they will never be forgiven by God for “murdering” their “child.” Perhaps most nefarious is how CPCs target low-income communities and communities of color, with the majority of fake clinics located in these areas. All reproductive health care should, obviously, be real health care — not a fake, so-called clinic and reproductive health care facilities should be required to tell the full truth and share every option, including abortion, to their patients. Every pregnant person deserves that basic level of care and compassion. However, it seems that the Ohio legislature doesn’t agree with that stance.
In the newly released Senate Budget, they include funding for CPCs. A whopping $5 million of the budget, designated solely to deceive and scare pregnant or potentially pregnant people. Despite rises in homelessness, a lack of affordable housing, an unjust school funding system, and having some of the worst rates of opioid addiction and infant mortality in the country, the Ohio Senate has decided that funding anti-abortion clinics is more important than any of these other issues plauging our state. On top of that, with the loss of Title X funding which helps clinics like Planned Parenthood provide comprehensive, essential, and LGBT-inclusive reproductive health care and sexual health education, Ohio is in a precarious, unethical state for reproductive rights.
If the “pro-life” movement and the legislators who create its policies truly cared about life, especially the life of babies, they should advocate for Title X funds and funding to fight against our egregious, racially divided infant mortality rate — black babies in Ohio are three times more likely to die before they turn one than white babies, a mortality rate of 15.6/1000 compared to the statewide rate of 7.2. Our legislators are aware of this information and the state of our state, yet they’ve choosen to allocate $5 million of the budget specifically for fake clinics that fear-monger about abortion, spread dangerous misinformation, advance an extreme, pro-birth, fundamentalist Christian rhetoric, and target lower-income communities. The Republican-controlled Ohio legislature has made clear that they value stopping abortion at all costs above not only the ethical treatment and bodily autonmy of pregnant people, but also helping the thousands upon thousands of people in need across the state.
Instead of using $5 million to spread anti-abortion rhetoric, that money could go towards the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF. TANF funds can be used for low-income housing, helping families have and keep a roof over their heads. Quality housing and housing stability are directly linked to health outcomes, children’s school performance, and more. Ohio’s current usage of TANF is abysmal, with many families that require help not receiving it. According to Policy Matters Ohio, more than half a billion dollars of TANF funds have gone unused. This disregard for making actual positive change in people’s lives shows that the GOP is not pro-life, they are anti-abortion, pro-birth, and frankly don’t give a damn about helping those in poverty or with lower incomes. The only way we can curb poverty, improve health outcomes (which includes making abortion legal, accessible, and at best completely free), and create affordable housing for all is with a major redistribution of wealth from the top, down to the rest of us. An easy start, i.e sans major socialist revolution, would be removing funding for fake clinics from the Ohio budget. Again, putting $5 million towards TANF funds would have a profound effect on Ohioans experiencing homelessness, housing instability, or even just those who struggle to make ends meet after paying their rent. Housing and health care, including abortion care, should be guaranteed, universal rights. A just society is not one controlled by fundamentalist, anti-abortion messaging nor one where millions are homeless or struggling to find quality affordable housing.
Wondering if there’s a fake clinic in your neighborhood? Visit https://www.exposefakeclinics.com/cpc for an interactive map of fake clinics across the US. Currently, there are 17 CPCs just in Columbus: Pregnancy Decisions Health Centers which have locations on OSU’s campus, in Linden, Northeast Columbus, Franklinton, and West Columbus; Birthright, which has two locations (they also own a thrift store in Clintonville, In Review Thrift Shop); two Women’s Care Center locations, one in Franklinton and one in Eastmoor; and Alpha Pregnancy Counseling Center, among others. In comparison, Columbus only has 3 abortion clinics, only 1 of which performs surgical abortion. Here are the abortion clinics currently open in Columbus: Planned Parenthood East Health Center (provides surgical abortion), Founder Women’s Health, and Your Choice Healthcare of Columbus.