Crisis Pregnancy Centers: the New Face of Women’s Health Care?

Since we last blogged about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, a new development has increased the threat they pose to women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care. A new initiative by several pro-life groups aims to fund CPCs’ conversion to medical clinics, staffing them with doctors and nurses and expanding their health care offerings – while they continue to oppose abortion and contraception and block or impede women’s access to those alternatives (we blogged about the misinformation provided by CPCs here).

AlterNet has the full story in their August 18 article, “The Anti-Choice Plan to Lure Women to Christian Pregnancy Centers.” Author Tana Ganeva calls our attention to the efforts of Focus on the Family and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates to make CPCs even more important players in women’s health care. NIFLA’s Life Choice project, established in 1998, gives CPCs legal advice as they transition to medical clinic status, and trains nurses and doctors to work in the newly created clinics. Since 2004, Focus on the Family has been funding the conversion of particularly high-impact CPCs into medical clinics. CPCs have long offered biased counseling and limited prenatal services to pregnant women, as well as post-natal services in some cases. As medical clinics, with doctors, nurses, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and perhaps even PAP smears, CPCs become more attractive to women who need these services and do not necessarily know about the ideology driving the centers.

This is particularly disturbing in light of the increasingly precarious situation of Planned Parenthood, on whose clinics many women have long relied for their health care. As many conservative governors have slashed funding for Planned Parenthood while funneling funds to CPCs through programs that support abstinence-only education, women are beginning to see their options constrict. The New York Times featured Texas as an example of this trend in an article last month.

 A CPC turned licensed medical clinic, with a doctor and nurses, may soon be the most accessible pregnancy care option for many women, who could walk in the door not knowing they have entered an explicitly anti-abortion zone where they may not be presented with all of their options.

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