Anti-abortion centers to grow, to exercise more influence after Roe

Charleston, W.W. “The woman’s choice,” proclaims the sign in bold pink letters. But despite promising information on abortions and free pregnancy tests, the facility in Charleston, W.Va., is designed to guide women facing unwanted pregnancies to choose abortion.

This will become much easier now that the US Supreme Court has ruled that states like West Virginia can make abortion illegal.

It is one of hundreds of so-called crisis pregnancy centers across the country, aimed at discouraging women from seeking abortions. Establishments that have been repeatedly accused of defrauding women of their true purpose are expected to have even greater influence in states where declining clinics are now canceling abortion appointments.

Often religiously related, abortion centers are not licensed medical facilities and do not provide medical services such as antenatal or postnatal care or other health care for uninsured women, unlike clinics that offer abortions – which are subject to strict government regulations and patient privacy laws. They sometimes have nurses on staff or as volunteers.


“In general, these centers look around and say, ‘Our services will be needed now more than ever because there will be so many pregnant people who need support during their pregnancies – especially unwanted pregnancies,'” said Andrea Swarzendruber, Professor. in Public Health from the University of Georgia, who has helped map the locations of centers across the country.

Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling Friday, the only abortion clinic in West Virginia announced it was suspending abortion services but continuing to provide birth control, STI treatment and other services.

The Charleston Abortion Center, called the Women’s Choice Resource Center, has been located next to the abortion clinic for years. The people who run it say their work will not change. They will continue to offer parenting and health lessons, counseling for “women who regret a past abortion decision and want to find solace in guilt and sadness” and provide “facts about the risks of abortion – both physically and psychologically. They said in an email to the Associated Press.


The board also said staff should complete training, stressing the importance of “the right of clients to be respected, regardless of their decision”.

At a nearby clinic called the Center for Women’s Health in West Virginia, CEO Katie Kinones has doubts about such statements. She has repeatedly seen patients wanting to terminate their pregnancies lured to the abortion center and bombarded with warnings about the risks of abortion. Some who have found their way to her office share brochures declaring that “abortion causes new problems that can haunt a woman for the rest of her life.”

One, entitled “Abortion – a life without regret”, shows a crying woman on the cover and lists “risks of abortion”, including “suicidal feelings”, “death” and “cervical incompetence”.

Kinones said he was worried about the dozens of patients whose abortion appointments had been canceled following a Supreme Court ruling.


“I’m incredibly worried,” she said. “They may think that there may be another provider and a country that has abortions. “How about I call The Woman’s Choice in Charleston?” And then they make an appointment and go there because they were lied to by a fake clinic that says, “Yes, we can take care of you.” “

While anti-abortion centers are largely silent on their plans now that Rowe v. Wade has been canceled, experts say they are likely to redouble their efforts to persuade women not to terminate their pregnancies. Logistics work in their favor, as many women will not have the legal opportunity to have an abortion without leaving their country.

The centers are expanding in each state with the support of wealthy conservative donors, powerful government lawmakers and religious institutions. They have also received tens of millions of tax dollars directed at them by conservative state leaders.


Left-leaning countries have shown more willingness to regulate the way the centers advertise their services. Last year, Connecticut banned them from using “fraudulent advertising” for the services they provide.

Connecticut had 18 health clinics that provided abortions by 2018; there are also about 20 crisis centers for pregnancy.

“As we move into this new world and this next phase, I think it’s more important than ever for women to have access to medically accurate information,” said Democratic MP Gillian Gilcrest, who sponsors Connecticut legislation.

“The last thing we want is for women to be in what they think is a health clinic, just to get misinformation about their capabilities.

Nationally, crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion clinics by more than 3 to 1, but in Republican-led states the numbers could be much higher, according to a 2021 report by The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Equality between the sexes. About 2,500 centers are located across the country, while there are less than 800 abortion clinics.


In Missouri, where there is only one abortion clinic, Swartzendruber and her colleagues identified nearly 70 abortion centers in 2021. The situation is similar in North Dakota, where at least seven centers operated last year and the only abortion clinic in the state is moving. now that Rowe v. Wade has been overturned.

There are 30 centers in Mississippi, while the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a plaintiff in the lawsuit that came before the Supreme Court, was the only provider of abortion services.

These three states are among the 13 with so-called trigger laws that ban most abortions after Roe’s repeal. West Virginia has no trigger law, but it has an old status for books that were deferred while Rowe was in place.

“I see states with trigger laws working to continue funding or increasing funding for pregnancy crisis centers and trying to pass new legislation to make the centers even more famous,” Swartzendruber said.


Earlier this month, anti-abortion leaders called on churches to support their local pregnancy crisis centers.

“I believe we have the opportunity, like never before, like the church, to really rush in and make a huge difference,” said Dean Nelson, vice president of government relations for the Human Coalition, a national anti-abortion group that often leads pregnant women. to the centers and manages several own.

Some centers offer financial counseling, free diapers and panties for mothers after giving birth. By expanding and strengthening the network of centers, abortion advocates hope that women will see that they have the resources and opportunities.

This applies to reproductive rights defenders, who worry that without licensed abortion providers, women who become pregnant unexpectedly and desperately need help will find themselves in places with the intention of deceiving them. Earlier this year, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, an Internet surveillance group, published a report that found that 1 in 10 Google searches for abortion services in states with trigger laws directed people to the centers.


Amanda Furge says this happened to her while she was looking for information about the only abortion clinic in Mississippi in 2014. Instead, she found a list of what turned out to be a crisis pregnancy center in Jackson.

“I went to a meeting and they kept me there all day, they traumatized me. They did a pregnancy test and told me, “We won’t be able to recommend any abortion services,” she said. “I was clear: ‘I don’t want to carry this pregnancy. I want to end it. “

Until she found the abortion clinic, she said she had decided she was too far away to undergo the procedure. She is now happily raising her 7-year-old son.

In West Virginia, the Charleston Abortion Clinic has rows of hedges blocking the view of the building next door to reduce confusion. In front is the inscription “WARNING: The building behind this sign is the Crisis Center for Pregnancy and Control against CHOICE. He is not affiliated with the Women’s Health Center. “


“You shouldn’t be able to impersonate a medical facility and just lie to patients,” said director Kinones.


Cruise reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writer Emily Wagster Petus contributed from Jackson, Mississippi.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Anti-abortion centers to grow, to exercise more influence after Roe

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