Today we have a special investigative report from our intern Jessica about what kind of groups are seeking Title X funding now. Hint: places that DEFINITELY cannot fill Planned Parenthood’s shoes!
By Gauri Deorkar, student at Rutgers University
Whole Woman’s Health of Austin, a longtime, trusted abortion provider located in Austin, Texas announced last week that it is moving—but not by choice. The space that the clinic previously occupied was recently taken over by new tenants with connections to an anti-abortion group. The new tenants are Lion Venture Partners, a group headed by Andy Schoonover, who is also the co-founder of Carrying to Term along with his wife. Carrying to Term is group that aims to guide women with terminal prenatal diagnoses to “choose life.”
The motivation behind Carrying to Term is disturbing to say the least. Essentially, the group works to convince women with terminal prenatal diagnoses to proceed with their pregnancies as normal. Moreover, Carrying to Term also collaborates with fake clinics in at least 23 states. It is pretty clear that Lion Venture Partners’ decision to buy out the previous owner of the space Whole Woman’s Health used to operate out of was no coincidence. Particularly because Lion Venture Partners offered a cash up front deal.
This type of attack on abortion clinics is not new. Anti-choice groups and fake clinics have “flipped” clinics in Maryland, Kansas, Florida, Virginia, and Tennessee. And the craziest thing is when these clinics become “memorials for the unborn.” This new anti-abortion strategy is just one more thing that abortion clinics have to worry about on top of lawsuits and anti-abortions laws (that are extra strict in Texas).
While Whole Women’s Health has managed to find a new space, but it is more expensive and has 700 fewer square feet. Abortion rights and a woman’s right to make basic choices about her body are really important; however there is no right if there is no access to it. Whole Woman’s Health provides holistic care for women including comprehensive gynecology services as well as abortion care. As their mission statement reads, “each woman must be at the center of her own healthcare decisions, and treating each woman holistically - honoring her head, heart, and body - will better serve women and improve women’s health and happiness in our wider communities.”
Please consider donating to Whole Woman’s Health Alliance and sharing this post with friends and family.
by Amy Weintraub, Progress Florida
I was appalled last spring when our Florida Legislature made funding fake clinics a permanent part of the state budget to the tune of $4 million each year. I can only think (hope) that, aside from the few extremists leading the charge, the legislators did not comprehend the damage they were doing to their constituents who would be tricked into entering the doors of such places for the promise of a free pregnancy test.
With this permanent stream of cash heading their way, the 190+ fake clinics in Florida are becoming even more charismatic in evangelizing their “services” in our communities in order to browbeat Floridians into carrying their pregnancies to term.
Our team at Progress Florida decided to ramp up efforts to expose them. In addition to social media campaigns, a petition delivery to the Governor and Surgeon General, posting accurate online reviews, and visibility events outside the fake clinics, we thought an “explainer video” might take our warnings to a bigger audience.
With the guidance of Florida film producer and Progress Florida volunteer, Theresa Darlington, we contracted with an animation company, Crackitt Digital Web Solutions. It was up to us to develop the script and get all the info we wanted – the tactics used to lure in the unsuspecting, and the misinformation, judgement, and coercion served up – down to less than two minutes. Crackitt and Progress Florida worked together on every aspect of the project, from the look and feel of the animation to working with the voiceover artist. This took us outside our normal organizing activities for sure and we are proud of the results.
We hope exposefakeclinics.com followers check out our new video and share it widely:
Weintraub is the Reproductive Rights Program Director for Progress Florida and is a leader on the statewide Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition, where she chairs the Fake Clinics Work Group. A seasoned organizer, Amy has worked most of her adult life identifying, educating, and activating citizens toward social justice, particularly in the area of reproductive health (shout out to former employer WV FREE). Amy lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her spouse and two teenagers.
This post written by Ceara Kornblum, a college student in Oregon.
I was lucky to be raised in a feminist household where my sexual decisions and body autonomy were respected. I firsthand know how powerful those can make a person. So when I learned of crisis pregnancy centers and their practices I had to do something.
Crisis pregnancy centers are the antithesis of healthcare and empowerment. I know this first hand because I go to these centers, inspired to review them for the #ExposeFakeClinics campaign. Every time, I am struck by how little they care about facts or one’s best well-being. The first center I went with immediately tried to convert me to Christianity, completely disrespecting my spirituality in the process, before telling me my phobia of pregnancy should not be a worry and that I mustn’t have an abortion. Another I went to told me that abortion would give me something resembling PTSD. I know that isn’t true because I actually live with PTSD. The told me a condom was 60% effective, and tried to shame me for having sex.
I visit clinics to tell the truth about them to people who are vulnerable and need real health care.
Hopefully, this will inspire more people to take up the task of doing this work. Only by showing the truth about these clinics can we inspire action against the emotional manipulation and health violations they regularly engage in.
Today #ExposeFakeClinics launches the #GramTheVan campaign to raise awareness about the deception and lies of fake clinics, particularly in Ultrasound Vans—that’s right! Mobile fake clinics are a growing tactic being used by fake women’s health centers. Help us call them out! Learn how to take action right here. Below, Lady Parts Justice League writer Molly Gaebe shares her story of a recent trip to a fake clinic.
By Molly Gaebe
I knew what I was getting into. I was walking into the doors of a fake clinic, a place whose sole purpose is to coerce women out of abortion, whether they have made their minds up or not. I knew this as I walked in the front door that said “Choices” in pale yellow, pink, and blue. I knew this as I walked into the waiting area, complete with a glass intake window and pamphlets displayed all around the room. My heart sank for the young couple who was waiting for their appointment, silent, still with their winter coats on, because they did not know. How could they?
This place is designed to look exactly like a medical clinic. But look closer, and you start to see the anti-abortion cracks everywhere. Every pamphlet is about the horrors of abortion (no science to be found anywhere) and the joys of birth (which, for the record, is 14 times more dangerous than abortion). Under where you sign your name agreeing that this place can use your personal health information however they choose, is a disclaimer that includes this line: Volunteers are well trained in crisis counseling and are here because they care about you. They are not necessarily degreed or licensed.
Okay, I won’t even get into the intense creep factor of the “because they care about you” Mommy Dearest vibe. That is for another time and blog. But right there in the fine print, they say, these volunteers are not degreed or licensed aka have no professional training whatsoever. A person signing this form probably wouldn’t even process that line. I mean, it all looks so official, and it’s designed that way.
I was greeted by a woman who is soft spoken and welcoming. She handed me the cup to pee in, which I did—kind of (thank you, friend with pregnant pee!). Then she ushered me into a room with a small brown couch and a chair for her. The room had a coffee table with a big binded book on it, along with a box of tissues.
She asked me all about my life. I told her I have had a surgical abortion before (I have) and am interested in a medication abortion because I heard it is safe, and I cannot afford to have a child right now. She picked up the big binded book from the coffee table, opened it quietly and cautiously, like something bad was about to happen. It was if she was about to read an R.L. Stine book to a child called The Curse of the Mummy’s Abortion.
Page by page, she went through this massive binded document with sections describing the worst possible outcomes of medication and surgical abortion. It looked very official, these lies laid out in print surrounded by stock photos of tortured-looking women with their heads in their hands. The whole (seemingly never ending) appointment was about making abortion seem unsafe and like the riskiest decision I could make around my pregnancy.
When I told her I had had an abortion before, out came the lies about the effects that my abortion will have on my fertility, my mental health, and my chances of getting cancer. One of the pamphlets she read included this line:
A Possible Relationship with Breast Cancer: Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer, especially a woman's first pregnancy. Terminating a pregnancy may result in a loss of that protection.
WHATTHEHELL. For real. HAVE THIS BABY or you revoke your rights to a cancer free life. The guilt factor they heap on you is really impressive.
Throughout the appointment, I told her twice that my abortion made me feel relieved, because it absolutely did. That clearly wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. After I told her about my good experience and joy around my first abortion, she went silent. Then she read more from the pamphlet that listed only these as the possible things I would feel after another one, should I choose to accept it: Guilt, grief, anger, difficulty bonding with a partner, eating disorders. She wasn't done. Clinical depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
The entire sessions was this relentless hammering on possible disastrous emotions and behaviors and future cancers and perforations I would experience. Not calm, not relief, not joy, all the emotions I felt when I actually did have one.
She told me there is a link between breast cancer and abortion because our bodies “change with the hormones” and “everything in our body is interconnected.” Ok, sure that sounds like science.
I was also told that if I went through with my (very early) abortion I could have a hysterectomy and die. I was told it could endanger my chances of getting pregnant in the future, and if I managed to get pregnant, it would risk my health. She gave me some sort of convoluted explanation about how having had an abortion is like having scar tissue on your arm. If the scar is deep enough, it will affect your nerves and your muscles and “how you feel and how you use it.” Sure, this sounds like more science.
I want to say here that yes, there are risks and complications associated with abortion, AS WITH ANY PROCEDURE. But to misrepresent them as the most likely outcome is flat out wrong. It’s condescending and harmful to people who are looking for help, guidance, and FACTUAL EVIDENCE. The facts are that abortion is one of the safest procedures out there, and that the most common emotion associated with it is relief. We don’t need places like these mischaracterizing abortion. Doctors already go through all the risks of abortion with their patients. We don’t need abortion haunted houses like these frightening vulnerable people.
I also want to say here that the woman was very nice to me. She wanted me to know, as the disclaimer said, that she cares about me. If these places really cared about the people walking in the door, they wouldn’t have to scare and lie to them. If they really cared, they would work in their communities to provide sex education and birth control and advocate for more resources for couples like the the one in their waiting room. They don’t, because their concern is only to coerce people out of abortion, and into birth.
No matter what their circumstances or what they want. I told her when I came in, I wanted a medication abortion. Her response was to send me out the door with lies, a prayer, and a few bags of diapers and blankets (which I donated to a women’s shelter.)
By Shireen Shakouri
Blog originally posted on Reproaction.org
Say you have a disgraced business selling a product no one wants, but you’re awash with cash from deep-pocket funders and government-subsidized programs? [1-3] Sounds like it’s time to revive your image with some rebranding!
The M.O. of anti-abortion fake clinics is to mislead and shame people considering abortion, often employing grotesque scare tactics and outright lies about the supposed risks of the procedure itself and purported after-effects of abortion on the body. These lies have been roundly discredited time and again, in countless academic studies and in other media, but fake clinics are still trotting out falsehoods to sell a product no one wants: lies and stigma. 
Heartbeat International, one of the largest fake clinic networks in the country that claims to operate 2,600 centers internationally, recently launched a website: pregnancycentertruth.com to “bust pro-abortion myths.”  The problem is, they’re doubling down on the lies they’ve been exposed for pushing in the past,  claiming it’s a show of “hope,” “compassion,” and “truth.” Wouldn’t it just be easier for them to accept that the truth is, in fact, in favor of abortion rights and access?
Here’s a breakdown of some of the lies they’re trying to pass as verified facts:
LIE: Abortion causes breast cancer. The official statement of the American Cancer Society on the topic states that, “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.” 
LIE: Abortion causes suicide, drug use, and depression. The American Psychological Association convened a task force to study the mental health outcomes of women who had abortions, which determined that there was, “No evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.” 
LIE: Abortion causes pre-term birth in future pregnancies. Multiple studies have found that there is no correlation between modern surgical abortion procedures and pre-term birth, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage. [9-10]
LIE: Abortion causes maternal mortality. Abortion is not only a remarkably safe procedure, according to numerous studies,  but states that have increased abortion restrictions have worse maternal health outcomes. 
For a broader and more comprehensive look at the research about the safety and minimal risks involved in abortion, you can check out AbortionIsSafe.com, which details the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report concluding that abortion is safe in all forms.
Heartbeat International also claims to have sourcing for their lies, but let’s dissect that a bit: Their main resource appears to be studies conducted or supported by AAPLOG, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Heartbeat International and AAPLOG doctors are some of the same folks behind the abortion pill “reversal” myth. I don’t have the time to get into that malarkey here, but I recommend checking out our webinar, article in Truthout, and blog series on the topic. The long and short of it is that these groups are no strangers to pushing unsupported bunk as if it were real science.
It says a lot that the anti-abortion camp has to establish its own research institutions to pretend its lies are science. Why not listen to the unbiased experts instead of a bloated industry of zealots and propagandists trying to tell us that pregnant people can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies?
(Fake Clinics) like to get easy money when they can by misrepresenting themselves to potential business donors. Enter the Texas Handmaids. Exposing fake clinics is one of our prime directives as an organization and we’ve come up with a successful method to sideline some of their revenue -- protest their business donors.
We'd like to introduce Coalition Member Group Friends Who March!
Friends Who March is an Activist group from Chicagoland founded after the Women’s March by Jax West. Their primary purpose? #GetActiveAndTakeAction! FWM take to the streets to support Choice, Immigrants, Criminal Justice Reform, Wrongfully Accused, LGBT rights because everyone should be free to live as they wish.
While clinic escorting during 40 Days for Life, Jax made a gigantic pair of pink angel wings to block the signs of 40 Days for Life harassers from clients...and a new subgroup, the “Pink Angels,” was born.
The Pink Angels have done a variety of actions to stand for Choice. They have worked as Escorts at various clinics. Stood in silence as Handmaids. Silently stood at a train station for a Pink Chill in support of Planned Parenthood. Chalked sidewalk messages at night in front of clinics, in anticipation of morning protesters. They also call and review fake clinics.
The Pink Angels have a BIG BAD in their midst. State Representative Peter Breen aka Rep. Baby Parts, represents FWM’s district. Rep. Peter Breen is with the Thomas Moore Society & is THE lawyer for the lyin’ anti’s who made the fake Planned Parenthood Baby Parts videos. Breen is with Knights of Columbus, funders of a local deceptive fake clinic that opened up next door to a real provider. The Pink Angels would love your involvement in an October Action at the fake clinic.
Recently Friends Who March went north to meet up with Lady Parts Justice League to take part in their fake clinic action in Milwaukee. It was a blast! FWM are huge supporters of everything LPJL does.
We invite folks to join us! It’s your body. It’s your choice. Fight for it.
- Fake Clinic Action in October/Early November: Email FriendsWhoMarch@gmail.com if you have an idea or would like to be involved in our SHEnanigans.
- Join FWM at our Red Carpet Viewing Party of their 2018 Golden Probe Awards that will be on October 20th. October 20th Viewing Party of the Golden Probe Awards Friends Who March is going all out for this one. There will even be a Fashion Police team there to talk to people as they enter the event and then discuss all the outfits at the after show.
Follow on Social Media!
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.
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.
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
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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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)
- 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.
- Tell anyone that’s been to a clinic to do the same!
- AND REPEAT!
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.
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!
By Carlton College students Maggie Goldberger '19, Emma Bessire '19, Natalie Jacobson '18
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Fake Women's Health Centers Endorse Sidewalk Harassment
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.
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.
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!
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.
By Shireen Shakouri
Re-posted with permission from ReproAction
Original post here
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. 
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.  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  – 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.” 
Here’s the thing about this “service,” though: As of mid-2016 Real Alternatives oversaw 93 sites and partnered with 29 organizations. According to Cosmopolitan, they 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. 
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?