The Human Fake Clinic: Detroit Edition

In the wake of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (“carpool dad” and anti-abortion trash bag) to the Supreme Court, Lady Parts Justice League took to downtown Detroit to keep that fight going. Kavanaugh was one of the judges who ruled against an undocumented 17 year old’s right to access an abortion, but at least he coaches kids’ basketball!

Given the avalanche of shit that’s been tumbling down from the highest court in our nation’s judiciary, staying angry, active, and informed is more important than ever. So, along with a dedicated crew of volunteers, Lady Parts Justice League became a Human Fake Clinic. The Human Fake Clinic comes complete with all the parts of a fake clinic we know and despise: a purposefully misleading name, spooky pamphlets, M.D.-less “doctors,” and a dollop of sugary-sweet fake compassion on top to mask the taste of deceit. Plus, 20 people dressed like a brick wall!

The Human Fake Clinic action works by taking a volunteer from the crowd and guiding them through the process of what it would be like to go to a fake clinic. First they meet a receptionist who gives them a “medical-grade pregnancy test,” which we learn from the Tour Guide is exactly the same as one you’d get from CVS-- it’s all part of the ruse to make the clinic seem like a medical facility.

The receptionist takes the volunteer’s belongings and clothes and sends them in to be examined by “somebody.” A person in a lab coat performs an ultrasound on the volunteer and says “there’s your baby!” Big red flag. But what’s scary is, at this point, even if the volunteer had caught on to the fact that this clinic was fake af and probably not gonna give them the abortion they came for, all their clothes and belongings are gone. Plus, they’re lying on a table covered in ultrasound goo.

Sadly, we all know what happens next: the non-doc tells the patient that they can’t recommend or refer abortion, says some literal lies about the side effects of abortion (depression and breast cancer, anyone?) and tells the volunteer to come back in three weeks-- easily long enough to push them past the cutoff for legal abortions in their state.

For those of us who have been lucky enough never to have stumbled into one of these dens of deception, witnessing firsthand what it would be like is truly terrifying. And with Kavanaugh’s nomination and the looming possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned, the presence of these miserable ministries becomes even more daunting-- if we don’t stop Basketball Bro over here from getting onto the Court, give it a few years and they could be our only options.

NIFLA v. Becerra Breakdown: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Downright Despicable

Woah. This was a big one. And, sadly but not surprisingly, it did not go our way. Regardless of the Court’s decision, we’re gonna stay angry and stay dedicated to exposing these fakes. But to fight against the anti-abortion activists screaming “free speech” as they skip through the street torching our repro rights, we all need to know what happened in this decision-- and why it’s bullshit. So let’s break it down.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) in their challenge to California's FACT Act - an act which would have required fake clinics with a medical license to post signs detailing where women could receive affordable medical care, including abortions. The act would also have required unlicensed fake clinics to say that they were - wait for it - unlicensed. These crazy California liberals and their truth!

Now everybody put on your scuba gear, because we’re about to go deep.

Points from the Majority Opinion by Justice Thomas, backed up by Gorsuch, Kennedy, Alito, Chief Justice Roberts, and the ghost of Antonin Scalia (probably):

  • The regulation for licensed clinics “likely violates the First Amendment” because it is a “content-based regulation” -- by making fake clinics post notices that “advertise” abortion, it is changing the content of their speech.
  • And the reason it is content-based is because it is NOT “purely factual and uncontroversial” and thus not infringing on free speech because abortion is “hardly an ‘uncontroversial’ topic”.

  • These regulations are different than making abortion providers give options about adoption because that’s right before a medical procedure, and thus regulating conduct. These regulate speech for speech's sake.

  • Plus, the regulations on abortion providers are about “informed consent”-- they apply to a medical procedure and are just about making sure the patient is informed!

  • This regulation for licensed clinics is actually too “underinclusive”-- it only applies to fake clinics and not other general clinics that serve low-income women

  • And if we’re talking about unlicensed clinics, the regulation is “unduly burdensome”* -- for example, if you had a billboard that said Choose Life, you’d have to surround it with a 29 word statement from the government telling the viewer that this clinic is unlicensed in up to 13 different languages

*Vocab quiz break! An undue burden is often cited as the point at which a law’s entire purpose is to place obstacles in front of our constitutional rights. For example, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court ruled that forcing a woman to notify her husband before getting an abortion was unduly burdensome, but that mandatory waiting periods and counseling were not.

Points from the Dissent (aka clapback) by Justice Breyer, backed up by Sotomayor, Kagan, and everyone’s #WCW Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

  • The court is going waaaaay past precedent in applying strict scrutiny to the first amendment rights of medical professionals-- suggesting that heightened scrutiny applies to much of social and economic legislature rather than leaving it to state legislatures will “obscure, not clarify, the true value of protecting freedom of speech”

  • Maybe abortion is controversial, “but the availability of state resources is not a normative statement or a fact of debatable truth”

  • The “informed consent” argument lacks moral and logical validity-- Claiming that these disclosures are unrelated to a medical procedure is ridiculous.

  • Because abortion is a more divisive issue, it’s even more important to interpret the first amendment evenhandedly, and give pro-choice clinics the same rights as fake ones.

  • NIFLA’s claim of underinclusivity isn’t developed enough to deduce whether the exempted clinics are exempted for a legitimate reason-- for example, maybe real clinics are exempted because they already provide their patients with this information and so do not need to be required to!

  • Onto unlicensed clinics-- “it is ‘self evident’ that patients might think they are receiving qualified medical care when they enter facilities that collect health information, perform obstetric ultrasounds or sonograms, diagnose pregnancy, and provide counseling about pregnancy options or other prenatal care.” (DUH.)

  • The whole billboard hypothetical shows that the act could be applied unconstitutionally, not that it is unconstitutional in of itself. Cut the part about all 13 languages, don’t nix the whole act.

To save the best for last: Why should medical professionals who provide abortion have to give information about adoption if counselors promoting adoption don’t need to give information about abortion?

And again: “There is no convincing reason to distinguish between information about adoption and information about abortion in this context.”

One more time for the people in the back: “A Constitution that allows States to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of adoption should also allow States similarly to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of abortion.”

Justice Breyer, though not quite at the boss-ass-bitch status of RBG, says it better than we ever could.

This decision fucking sucks, and anyone who thinks simply saying that abortion EXISTS is controversial fucking sucks too. But in the spirit of the dearly departed FACT act, we gotta stay informed. It’s more important now than ever to expose these fake clinics, because the government sure as hell isn’t going to.

Way Too Close Encounters

Fake clinics are back on their bullshit (as if they ever stopped), and today we’re here to talk about one in particular: a West Virginian CPC that targets vulnerable pregnant people and confused Lyft drivers alike.

This week Lady Parts Justice League headed to West Virginia, home of the Golden Delicious apple and one single abortion clinic-- the Women’s Health Center. In this youtube video, LPJL’s founder Lizz Winstead shows exactly how close WV’s single abortion clinic is to one of the state’s many fakes. Spoiler: too. damn. close.

As Lizz moves down the sidewalk from the Women’s Health Center over to the fake clinic, called Woman’s Choice, you’re able to see just how close these two buildings are. A sign outside the fake clinic says, “Considering abortion? Confidential, free pregnancy test, walk-ins welcome.” Woman’s Choice, of course, does not actually provide abortions, and will actively counsel you against one. Boy, it’s almost like the clinic is purposefully luring people who want abortions just to shame them and delay their procedures until it’s literally too late!

This is one of the 28 fake clinics in West Virginia, versus the -- all together now -- ONE actual abortion provider. As part of its mandatory counseling laws, West Virginia actually mandates that doctors must give people considering abortion a list of facilities that include clinics like Woman’s Choice, with no way of distinguishing between these anti-choice hellholes and the real clinics.

And the real kicker is that these tactics-- setting up camp next to real abortion providers, publicizing free pregnancy tests, naming themselves something so bafflingly antithetical to what they are that it would be funny if it weren’t so sad-- work. Lizz shares in the video that when Joyelle's (a performer on LPJL’s Vagical Mystery Tour) Lyft driver went to drop her off at the Women’s Health Center, he asked “which one?” … Big yikes.

TL;DR-- let’s get some personal space up in here. If you want to learn more about West Virginia’s go-lucky attitude towards reproductive care, check out this article in the Huffington Post from last year by WV FREE (West Virginia’s leading reproductive justice non-profit) and peep the shout out to #exposefakeclinics! https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/crisis-pregnancy-centers-run-rampant-through-west-virginia-and-its-a-problem_us_59ca8349e4b0cdc773352ef1

THIS WEEK USE YOUR YELP POWERS FOR GOOD

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Post originally published at LadyPartsJusticeLeague.com

Mother’s Day is in 4 days y’all. If you want to quickly go panic buy a 2-day shipping gift on Amazon we’ll wait!

(If you’re not finding anything good may we suggest donating to the Black Mamas Bail Out)

OK now that we have your attention back, let’s talk abortion! Abortion is an important part of family planning. Even people who want to be mothers some day could maybe not be ready TODAY to be a mother. And as “Abortion AMA” author Danielle Campoamor wrote this week “If you looked at my life on paper, you might very well wonder why this news is a big deal to me. I have a life in New York City, a 3-year-old son, a current, wanted, planned pregnancy, a rewarding relationship and my mental health. But I have these things because of the abortion I was legally, safely and affordably able to procure at age 23.”

In honor of the vital role that abortion plays in family planning, what better time to show some love to your local clinic than Mother’s Day. You know the anti-choicers will be writing some nonsense pieces about how motherhood is a gift you can never, ever complain about you bad, bad ladies. So fight back and consider leaving a review for a REAL ABORTION CLINIC this week! Here’s how it’s done and why it’s so important:

What can you do?

By reviewing the real abortion clinics with positive reviews or elevating positive reviews from others by “Liking” them, we can show the abortion clinics just how much they are appreciated and needed. And maybe, make it a little easier for patients to seek out caring professionals without being bullied or guilted by religious zealots.  

How to review:

  1. Pick a site. Facebook, Google and Yelp! all have clinics with reviews.  Keep in mind that if you don’t have a ‘Yelp!’ account, your reviews only show up after you’ve reviewed several businesses.
  2. Find a clinic that you’ve visited or one near you but make sure it’s a real abortion clinic!  There are more than four times as many fake clinics or ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ out there whose entire practice is only a subterfuge used to scare patients from getting an abortion. To avoid being tricked go to:
    https://www.abortioncarenetwork.org/abortion-care-providers/
    https://prochoice.org/think-youre-pregnant/find-a-provider/
    https://www.abortionclinics.com/
  3. Find your REAL abortion clinic and give them a review.  If you don’t have one that you’ve been to, check out their website and see what they have to offer that others might find useful (i.e. friendly staff, offer options and choice, offers services for the LGBTQ community, etc)
  4. We don’t want you to lie about anything so if you haven’t been to one or aren’t comfortable leaving your name, you can still help bring up other positive posts by ‘Liking’ them on Facebook, giving a ‘thumbs up’ on Google or finding ‘useful’ on Yelp! All of these will help bring positive reviews closer to the top.
  5. Tell anyone that’s been to a clinic to do the same!
  6. AND REPEAT!

CPCs on Wheels

John Oliver is COMING THROUGH lately! A few weeks ago on Last Week Tonight he dedicated an entire segment to exposing CPCs and their vindictive practices. You can check it out here. During the segment he showcased a promo video from “Save the Storks”, an organization that has put CPCs on wheels.

“Save the Storks” debuted their own version of a Mystery Machine at last years CPAC convention. They call it a “Stork Mobile Medical Unit,” but it’s just a fake women’s health center on wheels. Inside the custom-made-van they have ultrasounds and exam tables to perform fake health exams on pregnant women. They also boast that they have “a built-in space for an iPad, internet connection, soft lighting, a refrigerator, air conditioning, and plenty of storage space” (source). That’s right ladies, they have an iPad. How hip! They also have each bus named after a woman like “Kathy” or “Linda” or an inspirational word like “Compassion” or “Hope”. Picture below is Emily.

  Here's Emily, one of more than thirty buses that Save the Storks currently operates.

Here's Emily, one of more than thirty buses that Save the Storks currently operates.

Where do they park these buses? Right in front of abortion clinics. Coercing women entering abortion to come and receive their “services”. They operate the same way that fake clinics do, offering bogus and medically inaccurate information.

They want to appear as “non-threatening” as possible, so they design the van wraps with images of millennials or dramatic landscapes. They also have a business called StorkWorks where they help fake clinics rebrand themselves and offer organizational and social media strategies to help lure young people in.

As if fake women’s health clinics could get any worse, they are now going mobile finding their way onto college campuses, fairs, and even high schools. All we have to say is, never enter a van with a stranger.

If you want to stay updated about these fake-clinics-on-wheels you should check out our new #GramTheVan!

Our Story: Kicking Fake Clinics Off Campus

By Carlton College students Maggie Goldberger '19, Emma Bessire '19, Natalie Jacobson '18

 Carleton students Maggie and Carolyn shared their success story on the steps of the Supreme Court in March at the Rally to #EndTheLies

Carleton students Maggie and Carolyn shared their success story on the steps of the Supreme Court in March at the Rally to #EndTheLies

Less than a block from Carleton College’s campus, right in the middle of downtown Northfield, Minnesota, is a small clinic called the “Northfield Women’s Center.” The clinic looks friendly and welcoming. Their advertisements plaster every bus that shuttles students between the town’s two college campuses and takes community members to Target or the supermarket. The center advertises services like free STI screenings and ultrasounds for pregnant people.

Most members of our community—and most students on our campus—assumed that this was a legitimate health clinic, an assumption that was probably further backed up by this clinic’s resemblance to a legitimate health care center in town the “Northfield Women’s Health Center.” When we found out that this “clinic” was a fake women’s health center or “crisis pregnancy center,” an anti-choice, fake clinic dedicated to spreading harmful misinformation about birth control and abortion and shaming students for their sexuality. We were even more angry when we found out that our college was leasing the space to this fake clinic.

So we got organized.

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We set in motion a campaign to demand that our administration not renew the lease for the Northfield Women’s Center. We compiled dozens of accounts from students and community members who had visited the center, and we sent in more students to record their own appointments, gathering evidence about the lies, manipulation, and shame that our administration had allowed to occur in our community. We collected the center’s “informational” pamphlets and online resources, comparing their false statistics with real data compiled by trusted groups like the American Psychological Association. We circulated a petition on campus, called alums, and planned large demonstrations during our annual campus fundraising drive and at the Northfield Women’s Center fundraising banquet (which was hosted at another college in town). We sent hundreds of emails, letters, and calls to admin, demanding that they not renew the lease, and in the end, the Northfield Women’s Center decided to move out! But our fight against fake clinics in Northfield is far from over.

 

Below are some lessons learned from our efforts and tips for what YOU can do on your campus:

  • Knowing your audience is a crucial part of organizing. Being able to understand what you need to say to get your ideas across to another person or organization helps make your message more effective. For example, when talking to our school administration, we were sure to frame this not as a political issue but one of academic integrity. As an education institution and as a school, we should not be facilitating the spread of false medical information.

  • Chances are, when people on your campus find out what exactly the fake clinic is doing, they’re gonna be mad. When our campaign started picking up steam and Carleton students began to find out about just what the Northfield Women’s Center was, they were shocked and angered to know about it. A year ago, a large majority of campus was unaware of the damage they caused to the community. Now, almost everyone on campus can tell you what a fake clinic is. A large part of this was due to our tabling sessions in the student center, postering around campus, phone banking to alumni, social media management, partnering with other student organizations in events, and protests.

  • Reach out to your campus health center. Fake women’s health centers are known to target college students, either by setting up clinics very close to campus, hosting on-campus events, or even building relationships with legitimate on-campus health care services. Find out whether your campus health services refer students to fake clinics. If health services are not referring students to these places, ensure that they are empowering students with legitimate resources and information, and advocate for student health services to offer the same low-cost services that fake clinics use to attract students (for example, free STD/STI testing).

  • Be strategic about who you are talking to. Who is making the decisions that matter? Whose mind do you want to change? Reach out to relevant administration to make sure you are being as effective as possible in your messaging.

  • Write an Op-ed or Letter to the Editor! Something concrete and useful you can do to raise awareness about the fake clinic in your community is writing an Op-ed or Letter to the Editor in your local and school newspaper. This is a great way to bring your activism out of the sphere of your school as well!

  • Fake clinics don’t only affect college campuses. Postering in your town is a great way to build awareness about the truth of fake women’s health centers to a wider community. Reach out to local allies and organizations to broaden your reach and mobilize even more community members to stop the lies.

  • Plan a demonstration. Is the fake clinic hosting a benefit or event nearby? Host a quiet protest with signs that say things like “End the Lies,” “This clinic lies to women,” and “Abortion is healthcare.” Remember that you are there to raise awareness and make your voice heard, not to start conflict or get in debates.

#ExposeFakeClinics Turned Out to SCOTUS to #EndTheLies!

  Lady Parts Justice League's  Lizz Winstead  (in yellow slicker) led the rain-drenched, high energy rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Lady Parts Justice League's Lizz Winstead (in yellow slicker) led the rain-drenched, high energy rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Damn, y'all. #ExposeFakeClinics partners from all over the country SHOWED UP for reproductive rights on the steps of the Supreme Court and in our local communities this week. In DC on Tuesday, March 20th, through the miserable cold and rain, we were bigger, louder, and had WAY more fun than the antis that tried to drown us out as we rallied in support of the FACT Act being argued inside SCOTUS in the NIFLA vs. Becerra case. The case will be decided in June.

Some takeaways shared by our coalition partners: 

  • As usual, the Justices asked tough questions of both sides. There are always complicated arguments when it comes to the Constitution, but the FACT Act is a simple law based on simple principle: women deserve the truth. 
  • In the Court on Tuesday, it became crystal clear that deception is at the center of everything that fake women's health centers do. Justice Sotomayor, in particular, highlighted the extent of internet deception.
  • It's time to end the lies. We are confident that the Supreme Court will affirm that women deserve the truth. Women also need accurate information about their options right away, not the runaround. The FACT Act is a straightforward, constitutional law to ensure that women receive timely, accurate, and complete information about their full range of reproductive health options. 
  • Deceiving and manipulating pregnant women is not a free speech right, and we are confident the Court will reject the plaintiffs' effort to rewrite and weaponize the First Amendment.
  • THE BOTTOM LINE: While the anti-choice activists who staff these fake women's health centers are entitled to express their agenda, they should not be allowed to deceive women, lie about medical facts, and delay access to comprehensive reproductive or prenatal care. Pregnant women need accurate and timely information about their full range of options, not lies or the runaround.

Let's keep the fight going!

  • Check out the awesome #EndTheLies website for more info & resources about this case.
  • Keep spreading the word in your community and on social media that fake clinics LIE to pregnant people.
  • Do your local, state, and federal reps know about fake clinics and the harm they do? Do your elected officials support fake clinics, or are they doing anything to regulate them? Ask them! And tell THESE politicians to STOP FUNDING FAKE CLINICS: 

Will Protest for Soda; Fake Women's Health Center Rewards Demonstrators

By Emily Loen, Abortion Access Hackathon

Fake women's health centers like to keep up appearances. To the general public, they claim to be a safe, neutral place to talk over an unplanned pregnancy. Privately, they deceive pregnant people. Once inside, clients are met with the lie that abortion causes cancer, clients are pressured to carry to term, and shamed.

Most fake women's health centers do not want to be associated with passive aggressive, noxious abortion clinic protesters.

When asked about their close ties, one Sacramento based center openly lied. This kind of deception is not only dishonorable, but dangerous to clients who expect to receive unbiased medical advice. 

 40 Days of Harassholes

Valentine's Day begins the biannual "40 Days for Life" harassment campaign by protesters standing on street corners pleading with low-income women heading into the doctor's office. 40 Days for Life is a national organizing body that directs local chapters to abortion clinic sidewalks. CA chapters boast protests up and down the state. 

As California prepares for the Supreme Court case determining its right to regulate pregnancy health care services, Sacramento grapples with a messy trifecta of protesters, fake women's health centers, and hidden agendas. 

Daily protesters dot the sidewalks of Sacramento's known abortion providers. Holding signs with the phone number for the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, a nearby center that tries to dissuade people from abortion, they actively try to speak to anyone walking in. The protesters show off caricatures of baby dolls. They hope to send a person to the SVP Clinic for which they advertise.

SVP welcomes pregnant people, and publicly claims to have no agenda. Yet, SVP lies to pregnant people, saying abortion leads to breast cancer (not true, according to the American Cancer Society), refuses to refer people to all-options providers, and refuses to dispense preventive birth control. 

 A protester holds a sign with Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic's phone number, as they gather in the street across from a now closed Sacramento health clinic. The former all options clinic provided free adoption services, pre-natal referrals, abortion services and cancer screenings.  Source:  40 Days for Life Sacramento Facebook page

A protester holds a sign with Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic's phone number, as they gather in the street across from a now closed Sacramento health clinic. The former all options clinic provided free adoption services, pre-natal referrals, abortion services and cancer screenings. Source: 40 Days for Life Sacramento Facebook page

Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic Claims No Protester Connection, Despite Proof

Here's where things don't add up. Marie Leatherby, Executive Director of the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, is part of the family that runs the Leatherby's Family Creamery, a local ice cream shop. They regularly hold fundraisers for the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic (video) and its parent organization, the Sacramento Life Center

 The Sacramento Life Center streamed the live fundraiser from Leatherby's Family Creamery. Source: Sacramento Life Center Facebook page 

The Sacramento Life Center streamed the live fundraiser from Leatherby's Family Creamery. Source: Sacramento Life Center Facebook page 

Leatherby's ALSO privately rewards abortion clinic protesters. The Sacramento "40 Days for Life" email newsletter incentivizes protests with Leatherby's commitment of free sodas if you tell staff you've been on the sidewalks. 

When brought to her attention, Executive Director Marie Leatherby lied through her teeth, writing in a Sacramento News and Review Op-Ed, " The strange misnomer that my family’s long-respected ice cream business somehow has a policy offering free sodas to pro-life protesters is also inaccurate."  Yet, here is the email, dated April 3, 2011. 

Fake Women's Health Centers are Protester Funded

Protesters donate to the Sacramento Valley Life Center. 

Susan Money, donor "Herald of Life $1,500-$2,500"

Susan Money's photo is the profile photo of Sacramento's 40 Days for Life campaign. She has been on the sidewalks since at least 2012. 

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Fake Women's Health Centers Endorse Sidewalk Harassment


The mere fact that there is one person praying in front of clinic can ‘distract people’ who otherwise would have driven up for their appointment...These are people who were gonna drive in, but drove away just because there was soemone in front of the clinic praying.
— Steve Patton, "Witnessing to Hope" Sidewalk Training with Wynette Sills of 40 Days for Life and Debora Heinrichs of Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic

Witnessing to Hope 2013 was a "sidewalk training" evening for folks interested in demonstrating at abortion clinics. Wynette Sills, leader of protest group "40 Days for Life Sacramento" and Debora Heinrichs, hotline co-ordinator with Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, offered tips and tools on how to protest abortion providers. Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic Executive Director Marie Leatherby maintains there is no connection to protesters. 

Video 1

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I’ve been doing this for years.
— Wynette Sills, 40 Days for Life Sacramento on sidewalk protesting
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“My name is Debora Heinrichs and I’m the co-ordinator of the hotline for the Pregnancy Life Center. “
— Debora Heinrichs, Sacramento Life Center (parent company of Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic)
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Video 3

 

By publicly denying the strong private connection to protesters, the Sacramento Valley Life Center and Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic continue to deceive the public. 

Though the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic claims most of their clients are, "not looking for an abortion provider, " they aren't taking any chances.

As fake clinics head to the Supreme Court, let's be REAL clear: They lie to women.

By Lexi Kennard

With fake clinics heading to the SUPREME COURT this spring, the #ExposeFakeClinics campaign is doubling down on our commitment to shining a bright light on all the ways that fake women’s health centers deceive and harm women and pregnant people across the country. Two articles published this week outline the trickery and damage that CPCs generate.

This piece in Romper illustrates exactly how manipulative CPCs are and how they leave women abandoned after they follow their “advice” continue their pregnancy. The article is written by a woman named Cherisse who was lied to by a CPC and has spent her life struggling to care for her now 15-year-old son. She shares that “the CPC nurse convinced me that if I had an abortion, I wouldn’t be able to have children in the future  — a lie — and so I continued the pregnancy though I knew there was a strong possibility that I would have to raise that baby alone.” Cherisse went to the clinic get abortion care after seeing an ad, and was flat out lied to in a fake doctors office.

And that’s not all the harm they caused. “After manipulating me into continuing my pregnancy,” Cherisse shares, “they sent me home with a bottle, a onesie, and a rattle. To date, that is the last support of any kind I ever received from them.”

Cherisse’s experience is not unique. She wants people to know this: “My story is pretty much the template for how CPCs manipulate women: it’s an insult to our humanity, our God-given right to self-determination, and a threat to women’s health.

Fake clinics also made an appearance in the Hill with a great op-ed by the National Partnership for Women and Families. Sarah Lipton-Lubet nails down the four ways fake clinics directly harm women and undermine abortion access. The article demonstrates how women are lured into these clinics and the hypocrisy happens within them. She calls it exactly how it is: fake clinics deceive women, mislead women, shame women, and delay abortion care.

Stay tuned here for more news on fake clinics, SCOTUS, and ways YOU can take action this spring!

Abortion Providers Offer So Much More Than Abortions

Michelle Oberman's opinion piece, "The Woman the Abortion War Leaves Out," published 1/11/18 in the New York Times, shares her interpretation of fake clinics' work with "abortion-minded women." Oberman, a self professed pro-choice Californian, claims public opinion would pit her against fake clinics, yet she felt affection for them. Oberman suggests that fake clinics fill the gaps for low-income pregnant people who want to parent because abortion providers just do abortions.

In short, she's wrong. 

Abortion providers provide so much more. Clinics offer care for the life cycle of reproductive years, from pregnancy tests, birth control to breast cancer screenings. When it comes to insurance, nearly every abortion provider signs pregnant people up for Medi-Cal on the spot. By assuming eligibility, clinics can refer clients to ob/gyns to prepare for birth or adoption. Or, they can prepare for abortion services. Additionally, clinics refer undecided clients to All-Options, a judgment free, toll-free talkline for people facing an unexpected pregnancy. 

Northern California clinic Women's Health Specialists has provided abortion, pre-natal referrals and free adoption services for over 30 YEARS! With clinics in Chico, Grass Valley and Redding, they serve low-income folks in rural counties. 

Women's Health Specialists prints a "Survival Guide," distributed to clients and community groups. A pocket sized guide to food, housing, parenting, childcare, and employment, the guide served as a navigator for people who need help but aren't sure where to turn.

Clinics are dialed into the community.  The Nurse-Family Partnership, for example, provided a free nurse mentor to first time moms. Their materials were given to the clinic's clients who chose to parent, and posted in the waiting rooms. Family Resource Centers throughout the county offer free parenting classes, housing resources, and community activities. Women's Health Specialists Sacramento had satellite clinics in two area Family Resource Center.

California has a host of free, county based programs for women who would like to parent but need the financial or emotional support to make it a reality. Fake clinics, who do not trust clients to make their own choices, are not the only pipeline to birth, adoption or parenting success. 

If Oberman had explored the abortion providers in her own home state, she would know the vast array of medical and wrap around services, connections and community that abortion providers intentionally foster to support their clients, no matter what they choose. 

Real Alternatives or Real B.S.?

By Shireen Shakouri
Re-posted with permission from ReproAction

Original post here

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I’ve talked about how anti-abortion fake clinics receive taxpayer money to manipulate and shame women seeking abortions. I’ve also listed alternatives to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) for people in need of real, unbiased help with their pregnancies and aftercare. But the harms of fake clinics don’t stop with pregnant people.

Yes, you’ve been affected by one fake clinic network even if you’ve never been through their doors or even been pregnant – well, they’d probably describe you as pre-pregnant, as we know the goal of many “pro-lifers” is to make sure all sex has the consequence of conception and all women become mothers.

Many of us were outraged by the administration’s rule making it easier for employers to opt out of the no-cost birth control benefit, which is part of the Affordable Care Act and still, for now at least, the law of the land. Did you know, though, that the expansion of the religious exemption to include “sincerely held moral convictions” is in part the result of one cranky group of anti-abortion fake clinics not getting its way in court?

Real Alternatives is an organization that claims to provide crisis pregnancy “counseling” and “education” and subcontracts with fake clinics in multiple states. It is not technically a religious group, but wants to be treated like one just so it can deny its employees the birth control coverage they had been entitled to under the law. They lost their case to do just that in federal appeals court this August, but Trump conveniently stepped in this October to expand the contraception rule, which would exempt any workplace that doesn’t want to provide birth control coverage in their employee health plans, all because Real Alternatives and one other anti-abortion-but-not-technically-religious organization – March for Life – wanted to deny contraceptives to their employees. [1]

Another shady coincidence: When Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he diverted $3.5 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars (sometimes called welfare) to Real Alternatives in 2015, plus $1 million in state funds the year before. Meanwhile in Michigan, state government reporters noticed that their legislature funneled $800,000 to the organization in the fiscal year beginning in 2014, despite its failure to fulfill the terms of the state contract: Real Alternatives had not seen a single client or signed up a care provider in Michigan in its first 8 months of the contract. [2] What on Earth were they were doing with that $800k?

Real Alternatives’ misuse of TANF funding (what has been uncovered, at least) is probably the most egregious in their home state of Pennsylvania. According to a recently published audit – and Real Alternatives had sued the state to prevent such audits from happening [3] – between fiscal years 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 alone, Real Alternatives collected $497,368 that the organization admitted was collected to promote their business outside of the state, rather than provide direct services in Pennsylvania, as is expected from state-level Department of Health contracts with in-state providers. According to Pennsylvania’s Auditor General, they have been doing this since they started out in 1997, meaning the total they’ve taken from Pennsylvania taxpayers is actually much higher. [4, 5] The state’s five-year, $30.2 million dollar state grant for Real Alternatives was set to expire on June 30 of this year, but it was extended indefinitely, and the state said it has no plans to discontinue their relationship with Real Alternatives despite this blatant grift, claiming Real Alternatives was, “the only viable vendor for this type of service.” [6]

Here’s the thing about this “service,” though: As of mid-2016 Real Alternatives oversaw 93 sites and partnered with 29 organizations. According to Cosmopolitanthey allot a maximum of just $24 worth of material assistance per pregnant woman who visits. Their contract encourages staff members to ask about women’s spiritual lives in their efforts to dissuade women from obtaining abortions, and cites debunked studies linking abortion to risk of breast cancer and depression. [7]

Fake clinics using and abusing taxpayer money is bad enough, but misusing millions intended to feed hungry children while giving women in crisis the monetary equivalent of a couple movie tickets and a dose of faith-tinged stigmatization is disgraceful, and certainly cannot be termed “pro-life.” Maybe we should find an alternative to stealing money from needy families so a company can spread its tentacles into other states to deceive and shame more pregnant women and strip others of contraceptive coverage?

  1. https://www.salon.com/2017/10/19/trumps-moral-exemption-is-geared-to-just-2-groups_partner/
  2. https://rewire.news/article/2016/07/21/pro-life-pence-shifts-funding-needy-indiana-residents-anti-choice-crisis-pregnancy-centers/
  3. https://womenslawproject.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/anti-choice-organization-sues-pa-auditor-general-for-auditing-them/
  4. http://www.paauditor.gov/Media/Default/Reports/DHS_RA_Audit%20Report.pdf
  5. https://womenslawproject.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/report-pa-crisis-pregnancy-center-chain-misused-state-funds/
  6. https://rewire.news/article/2017/09/19/pennsylvania-officials-still-wont-cut-off-anti-choice-group-misusing-taxpayer-money/
  7. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a57659/real-alternatives-audit-pregnancy-center/

Keeping that momentum going!

Holy moly! So. many. people. turned out during the #ExposeFakeClinics October Week of Action! More than ONE HUNDRED groups on college campuses across the country signed up to lead creative direct actions at fake clinics, and incredible activists in more than SEVENTY towns and cities in THIRTY-SIX states signed up to lead fake clinic Review-A-Thons to call out CPCs online.

The 1 in 3 Campaign even sent these super cool banners to all of the campuses for their actions: 

  Lehman College Feminists  kicking ass and taking names in the Bronx, NY.

Lehman College Feminists kicking ass and taking names in the Bronx, NY.

 Members of the  University of Texas Rio Grande Valley chapter of URGE  don't mess around. They've even been organizing with a petition to their governor to defund CPCs. Heck yes.

Members of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley chapter of URGE don't mess around. They've even been organizing with a petition to their governor to defund CPCs. Heck yes.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.23.10 PM.png

And off campus, Lady Parts Justice dedicated their annual V to Shining V Week of Action entirely to #ExposeFakeClinics, resulting in nearly 1,000 CPC reviews

 NYC turned its Review-A-Thon into a team competition, leading to 148 reviews written—covering ALL of the CPCs in New York State!

NYC turned its Review-A-Thon into a team competition, leading to 148 reviews written—covering ALL of the CPCs in New York State!

  Feminist Flag Corps  in Columbus, Ohio had fun with Eunice P. Justice, America's uterus, while they reviewed fake clinics online.

Feminist Flag Corps in Columbus, Ohio had fun with Eunice P. Justice, America's uterus, while they reviewed fake clinics online.

The week closed out with some very exciting news out of Hartford, CT. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice CT and the Hartford GYN Center, a citywide ordinance was introduced that will require CPCs to disclose whether staff members have medical licenses, AND it would ban them from engaging in false or deceptive advertising practices. BAM! 

We'll keep you updated on their efforts right here. Keep up the incredible work! 

 

Campaign Kickoff Recap!

The antis are on the defensive, and it feels so good.

The Summer 2017 Week of Action to kick off the #ExposeFakeClinics campaign was a huge success thanks to the more than 40 badass organizations and providers across the country who signed on and came out for direct actions, reviewed CPCs online, and upvoted the heck out of the new reviews. Our hilarious video has now been viewed over 50 thousand times, and we're so excited to be reaching people who have never even heard of a CPC before. We're making an impact, and the CPCs are. not. happy. 

Over the summer, partners like ReproAction, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Connecticut, and Feminist Flag Corps organized more than ten direct actions in front of CPCs and in their communities, and we got great coverage from press like Bustle and The Cut to the Missouri Times and Dan Savage himself. And our team was quick to clap back at NPR's "coverage" too. 

We’re NEVER gonna stop. Many of our partners have been calling out CPCs for a long time, and #ExposeFakeClinics will continue to be an active hub for news and resources for the CPC #resistance across the USA. 

Stay tuned for another Week of Action coming this fall! 

And make sure to follow the campaign on Instagram & Facebook, and keep tagging your reviews and actions with #ExposeFakeClinics so we can keep on upvoting

Onward!
xx Lady Parts Justice League + Abortion Access Hackathon + Team #EFC

What NPR Missed...

Today marks the 9th day of the #ExposeFakeClinics nationwide campaign to write honest, real reviews of crisis pregnancy centers. Created by Lady Parts Justice League and the Abortion Access Hackathon, over forty medical clinics, reproductive health advocacy groups, and volunteer groups have invited the public to call crisis pregnancy centers nationwide for help with pregnancy options, then write an accurate review of the experience. Crisis pregnancy centers appear to support all pregnancy options publicly, while privately being known as anti-abortion advocacy groups and clinic protesters.

 Image created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Image created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Yesterday, bastion of public radio, All Things Considered, published a report titled “How Crisis Pregnancy Center Clients Rely on Medicaid.” Medicaid has been a hot topic discussion as our Republican legislature beats the dead horse of Affordable Care Act repeal. It does seem more than coincidental that NPR writer Sarah McCammon has chosen this week, of all weeks, to spotlight Crisis Pregnancy Centers in her Medicaid story, as Rewire, Bitch, Bust, and Bustle have already covered our #ExposeFakeClinics campaign.

We tried giving McCammon the benefit of the doubt - as a journalist, she is presenting the facts and letting her readers decide, right? Well, let us talk about the facts she did not consider.

In a story about pregnancy options and Medicaid, why not speak about All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center? Providing services in the same town as The Hannah Center, All-Options offers “open-hearted support for all...experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.” They also offer free pregnancy tests, diaper support, and referrals to ministries, food banks, and housing support, as well as a nationwide free help line. Where The Hannah Center and All-Options differ, however, is that All-Options does not blatantly attempt to dissuade their clients from considering abortion or counsel against abortion procedures.

In a story about pregnancy options and Medicaid, would it not be relevant to report that the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated facilities? These centers provide counseling on pregnancy, abortion, adoptions, but they do not abide by HIPAA (the act that protects your healthcare privacy), and they regularly do not have doctors or any other sort of medical personnel on staff.

In fact, some communities have taken legal action. King County (Seattle), Washington requires limited service pregnancy centers to post a notice stating, “This facility is not a health care facility.” The ordinance mandates the notice appear in large font, in ten languages, onsite and in the pregnancy center’s advertising. New York City CPCs are required to inform clients whether or not there is a licensed medical provider on staff. The city of San Francisco, by law, restricts CPCs from advertising for services they do not provide, like abortion. California state law requires all CPC’s to disclose on their website and in-clinic if they are not a licensed medical provider, and must post the state phone number for free reproductive care.

Throughout this past week, clinics have shared the daily harassment their clients face from neighboring crisis pregnancy centers on social media, with #ExposeFakeClinics hashtag. For example, McAllen Pregnancy Center staff dress as nurses and try to steer abortion patients to their anti-abortion counseling center.

 Created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

No, it does not appear as though McCammon has considered all the facts. She has considered that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) report that “uninsured women have higher rates of pregnancy complications.” She has not considered that ACOG also recognizes CPCs provide a significant public health risk to pregnant people accessing comprehensive care from trained medical professionals.

Instead, it appears McCammon has taken a play out of the CPC guidebook by offering a very limited and deceptive view of what CPCs actually offer. I encourage her to pull back her blinders and reveal the entire view of the landscape of reproductive health care. Offices that provide all options for pregnant people are becoming increasingly at risk of losing their funding due to the political activity of the CPC community. In 2013, 34 states funded these deceptive organizations, while denying funding for clinics that provide actual medical services. In fact, some states take money from programs for needy families, and fund CPC’s. To congratulate CPCs for “helping pregnant women” is to deny the work of real professionals offering people health care and complete control over their own reproduction.

CPCs are based on deception and half-truths, much like McCammon’s article. If you want the whole truth, visit exposefakeclinics.com. There you will find testimonials from doctors who treat people denied help at CPCs, people with wanted pregnancies that became jeopardized by the inexperience of CPC volunteers, and the origins of crisis pregnancy centers. While their methods differ, one thing among crisis pregnancy centers is universal - their attempts to control our reproduction. 

- The Abortion Access Hackathon & Lady Parts Justice League