The Impatient Patient: Crisis pregnancy centers have the right to their beliefs, not the right to deceive

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are organizations around the country offering counsel to pregnant women, with the goal of swaying women away from having an abortion by presenting different options. As such, CPCs counsel women through their pregnancy and after, providing adoption referrals.

There are 2,500 to 4,000 CPCs across the U.S., outnumbering the 1,500 abortion centers. CPCs have been making not only headlines, but also an appearance in the Supreme Court. This is in lieu of California’s Reproductive Fact Act requiring licensed CPCs to post a sign of their services offered — one example being whether or not said clinic offers abortions.

While clinics that are unlicensed are exempt from stating whether or not they provide abortion services, these clinics do have to state that they are unlicensed. Not only that, but these clinics have to make signs of their lack of licensure obvious and in different languages.

The law has stirred much controversy, with the National Institutes of Family and Life Advocated (NIFLA), who support around 1,400 CPCs, taking the case to the Supreme Court, in NIFLA v. Becerra.

CPCs, along with justices, feel as though the California law is targeting them because of their anti-abortion beliefs, a belief 61 percent of Californians do not agree with, that the government has not place in abortion matter.

Justice Elena Kagan brings up that the Reproductive Fact Act is manipulating the law centering it only on CPCs. In addition to being singled out, CPCs also argue that their First Amendment rights are being called into question — that they should not have to advertise a message not in alignment of their beliefs.

California legislature estimated in 2015 that 200 CPCs within California employed deceptive tactics, a reason for the law. The centers are accused of intimidating women who step into the center, in addition to providing misinformation about abortions, such as the idea that having an abortion might increase the risk of breast cancer.

However, while some CPCs are prone to deceptive actions, CPCs like Informed Choices report that they did not employ intimidation tactics, and still maintain relationships with women chose a different route. Furthermore, Informed Choices, part of its counsel for pregnant women, also provides baby clothing and supplies for mothers.

CPCs claim that putting up a sign is against their beliefs and an infringement of their First Amendment rights, but the information on the sign would not be false information. Why should CPCs be afraid to publicize information that is in fact, true?

It does not go against one’s belief system to publish truthful information. The government is not asking CPCs to put up a sign stating that they are pro-life, the government is asking CPCs to put a sign stating what services they offer.

It’s as though certain CPCs have a hidden agenda, refusing to put up signs for fear of driving women who are set on having an abortion away, which goes against actually helping pregnant women in need. I understand that CPCs want to prevent abortions, but doling out misinformation and intimidation is inexcusable.

While suspicions that the law is is possibly employing CPCs specifically are not unsound, with the talk of first amendment violations and deception, what seems to be understated is the well being of pregnant women. Furthermore, the law in question does not only apply to CPCs — but businesses like nail salons are also required by the law to put up a sign.

CPCs who do not employ deceptive tactics have nothing to fear with putting signs up. Women who decide to have an abortion do so because they feel as though it is their choice, it is what is best for them. Arriving at this decision was likely not an easy one, but one weighing out all possible options.

If the main objective of a CPC is to counsel women, then they should do just that — counsel. A woman’s choice of abortion is time-sensitive one. I firmly reject the notion that a woman must give birth no matter what — there are so many extenuating circumstances.

For CPCs to continue to employ unsavory measures to get their message across is not only immoral, but comprises an individual. I cannot imagine the point of a center that give off the appearance to have services it does not provide.

For the 200 CPCs employing deceptive tactics, all I have to say is consider — is the point of your center to save lives, or to further your movement? Maybe women who do go in and decide not to get an abortion because of CPCs are glad of their decision — but to maintain a front of deception to achieve that goal is questionable.

CPCs and abortion clinics look so similar, it can be hard to tell the apart. From similarly in names to proximity to abortion clinics, even those in support of the pro-life message cannot tell apart a CPC from an abortion center, with a pro-life group accidentally vandalizing a CPC.

Elizabeth Clark, director of Planned Parenthood, advises to take precautions when differentiating between CPCs and abortion clinics, such as calling beforehand to find out exactly what services are offered, in addition to looking at language on a CPCs website that may seem more skewed to a certain ideology.

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