FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Fake Abortion Clinics: “We’re Fighting Satan”

Photo Source Charlotte Cooper | CC BY 2.0

The clock is ticking on a woman’s right to medical privacy, particularly her right to an abortion.

In March 2016, during the presidential campaign, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ program and, when asked about what should happen to a woman who had an abortion, he said there “has to be some form of punishment.”  In the face of strong popular reaction, including among Republicans, he backtracked, calling for the punishment of doctors or other abortion providers.

In May 2018, at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala, Trump reiterated his stand against a woman’s right to an abortion.  “When I ran for office, I pledged to stand for life,” he blathered, “and as president, that’s exactly what I have done and I have kept my promise and I think everybody here understands that totally.”

In May, Diane Foley, MD, an OBGYN, was appointed to the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs where she will oversee the Title X federal family planning program.  According to an official press release, Foley “has a long and distinguished career working in the healthcare and the public health arenas.”

Foley’s appointment was notable because she is a staunch “anti-choice” activist, the former CEO of Life Network, a company that operates two “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPC) in Colorado.  These centers are pseudo birth-control facilities operated to convince pregnant women not to have abortions.

Foley’s appointment was announced at about the same time that the Trump administration announced plans to introduce a new rule that would bar abortions at facilities receiving federal family planning funds.  According to CNN, it was “a move aimed squarely at Planned Parenthood, which accepts some federal money for non-abortion services”; Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million a year through Title X.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, California’s Reproductive FACT Act unconstitutional.  The act required California-based CPCs to post signs informing clients that the state “has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion, for eligible women.”

The Supreme Court found the act violated the First Amendment. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Clarence Thomas noted, the law “imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the State’s informational interest.”  He added, “Neither California nor the Ninth Circuit has identified a persuasive reason for treating professional speech as a unique category that is exempt from ordinary First Amendment principles.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions chimed in, insisting that people “should not be forced by their government to promote a message with which they disagree,” and that the centers should “not be forced to advertise abortion and undermine the very reason they exist.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had previously ruled the act unconstitutional.  Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote, “The notice informs the reader only of the existence of publicly funded family-planning services. It does not contain any more speech than necessary, nor does it encourage, suggest or imply that women should use those state-funded services.”

Under the Trump administration, so-called CPCs can be expected to increase in number and offer fake abortion care to women seeking help with their unwanted pregnancies.  This development way well be the great shame of Trump’s presidency.

***

The first abortion clinic or CPC was established by Robert Pearson in Hawaii in 1967 after the state legislature repealed a law criminalizing abortion.  Following the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he moved to St. Louis and established the Pearson Foundation, an organization that assists people interested in starting a CPC. In 1984, he published How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach Crisis Pregnancy Center that’s become the “bible” for the running of fake abortion centers.

Pearson’s 93-page handbook lays out a host of methods to mislead women seeking an abortion with their unwanted pregnancy.  Foremost, it offers schemes by which anti-abortions can falsely portray CPCs as abortion providers.For example, the guide advises that “there is nothing wrong or dishonest if you don’t want to answer a question that may reveal your pro-life position.”  Pearson was not ashamed for lying to further his anti-abortion campaign.  In a 1994 speech, he stated, “obviously, we’re fighting Satan . . . [a] killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to kill her baby, has no right to information that will help kill her baby. Therefore, when she calls and says, ‘Do you do abortions?’ we do not tell her, ‘No we don’t do abortions.’”

Estimates vary as to the number of CPCs – and abortion clinics – that currently operate throughout the country.  One estimate claims that there are between 2,300 to 3,500 CPCs in the U.S. while there are only 1,800 abortion clinics; another suggests that there 2,700 CPCs and only 800 abortion clinics. In any case, as an NPR report notes, “far more low-income women will be exposed to their deceptive practices instead of being informed of their range of reproductive health-care options.”

Individual CPCs normally provide a pregnancy test and anti-abortion propaganda. Many are integrated as part of a network or umbrella organization such as Birthright International, Care Net, Heartbeat International, or the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. These umbrella organizations offer legal support, ultrasound training and other services.

CPCs are insidious establishment, falsely branded under a variety of misleading names.  They are sometimes known as “pregnancy resource centers,” “pregnancy care centers,” “pregnancy support centers” or simply “pregnancy centers.”

Two in New York are representative.  The EMC Frontline Bronx is located across the street from Planned Parenthood’s Bronx location and promotes itself with a large banner stating, “Plan Your Pregnancy.” Sisters of Life offers “sidewalk counselors” who stand outside Planned Parenthood’s Manhattan health center and tell patients that they would take them to a “real doctor.”

CPC will not refer a woman to an abortion provider and, according to one source, may refuse to provide information about or referrals for birth control, even if medically needed.  As NARAL Pro-Choice America reports, “these practices block women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive health and may endanger women’s health by delaying access to legitimate health-care services.”

***

An October 2017 report from the Reproductive Health Investors Alliance found in at least 12 states CPCs receive direct state funding. Think Progress found in 2016 that seven states used federal TANF grants (i.e., Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or welfare funding) to fund CPC networks.  Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas “siphoned off $30 million in federal welfare dollars over four years to these organizations that are unregulated, tax-exempt, and provide flimsy justifications (or none at all) for their use of federal money.”

Since the Roe decision four decades ago, the religious right has moved steadily and systematically to overturn a woman’s right to the privacy of an abortion. Now, with Trump in the White House, Republicans in control of both Houses of Congresses and the likely appointment of a strict conservative to the Supreme Court, the religious right has gained state power.

In the face of Foley’s appointment, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and the NIFLA v. Becerra decision, one can expect the continuing increase in fake abortion clinics – i.e., crisis pregnancy centers.  This development bodes badly in terms of a woman’s right for quality – and informed, non-ideological – reproductive health care.

More articles by:

David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net; check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
November 14, 2019
Laura Carlsen
Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not Cease
Joe Emersberger
Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”
Ron Jacobs
Trump’s Drug Deal Goes to Congress: Impeachment, Day One
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail