Fake Clinics: A Public Health Hazard
by Women's Health Action and Mobilization (WHAM)
How to Identify a Fake Abortion Clinic
Phony clinics - or "crisis pregnancy centers," as their antiabortion owners call them - are designed to mislead pregnant women into thinking they are
genuine health care facilities. Phony clinics are not health clinics
like Planned Parenthood where you can get medical services or learn about
all the options available to you, including prenatal care, adoption, and
abortion. They are political harassment centers whose only purpose is to
stop women from having abortions by any means necessary.
Some warning signs of a fake clinic:
- Ads that promise free pregnancy tests but are vague about other
services, promising "abortion information" or "abortion alternatives."
- Clinic staffers who won't tell you over the phone whether they will
perform abortions or refer you to a clinic that does, saying, "We'll discuss
that when you come in."
- Many fake clinics use names beginning with "A" - such as "AAA Pregnancy
Center" or "ABCs of Abortion" - in order to get at the top of Yellow Pages
- If you are headed to a real clinic, beware of fake clinics set up nearby
to confuse women who may not know the neighborhood. Check the name and
address of your clinic to make sure it matches.
What Fake Clinics Do
|"Their sole purpose is to intentionally deceive and impose their views on
women, regardless of the consequences to the women's health and
- Ron Fitzsimmons, National Coalition of Abortion Providers
Phony clinics perform no medical services. Their entire purpose is to lure in women and bombard them with antiabortion propaganda.
Most fake clinics have no doctors or other medical staff. A woman who visits one of these phony facilities is merely given a home pregnancy test of the
kind available in drug stores, then told to wait for her results. While she
waits, she is shown graphic, medically inaccurate antiabortion videos.
Phony "counselors" are also on hand to pump women with misinformation about abortion. Among the things fake clinics have told women (all untrue): that
two-thirds of all women who have abortions are later hospitalized for
psychological problems; that women who have abortions will have trouble
having babies later; that federal law requires women to view the
Fake "counselors" are also instructed to lie about results or suggest a second pregnancy test if a woman intends to have an abortion. This can
prevent women from obtaining an abortion within the legal time frame, or
force them into more risky, expensive second-trimester procedures.
Fake clinics have also told women's relatives and husbands about their
intended abortions. Staffers have attempted to physically prevent women from
leaving. One phony clinic in California filed a false child-abuse report
against a woman who wanted an abortion!
What You Can Do about Fake Clinics
|"At these fake 'clinics' there are no doctors, nurses, or other trained health care personnel on site. In fact, these so-called medical facilities
are simply fronts for abusive antiabortion campaigning."|
- Rep. Ron Wyden
- If you or someone you know has been victimized by a fake clinic, contact
the attorney general's consumer
protection office (in New York City, (800) 771-7755; elsewhere, check
- Call your local Yellow Pages and tell them not to allow fake clinics to
advertise under "clinics" or "abortion services," and to clearly specify
which ads are for real health care facilities and which are for antiabortion
propaganda mills - as recommended in 1991 by the national Yellow Pages
- Spread the word about the dangers of "crisis pregnancy centers." Phony
clinics thrive on secrecy and misinformation; they can no longer endanger
women once we are forewarned about what they really do.
The following is excerpted from congressional testimony by a woman who accidentally visited the "Central Arkansas Crisis Pregnancy Center":
I thought it was an abortion clinic because the ad said "Free pregnancy
testing, abortion information. Walk in or call." The lady was real nice. I
asked her how much an abortion was. She explained to me that she was away
from her desk and could not give me that information. . . .
I was taken to a small room and the lady explained to me that I was about to watch a film on abortions and I would enjoy it. I felt forced to view the
films in order to know the result of my pregnancy test. The films showed
very pregnant women entering clinics and showed abortions at late stages of
pregnancy. The film said the abortions were on women who were 8 to 10 weeks
pregnant, but all of the women had cantaloupe-size bellies. The films said
that abortion caused women to bleed to death, never have children again, and
many women had hysterectomies. After having my abortion I knew this
information was not accurate. . . .
I felt bad about myself when the lady started telling me I was killing a life that is God-given and that a fetus is a baby the time of conception. .
. . One week after I received my abortion [at a real clinic], Central
Arkansas Crisis Pregnancy Center called my mom's home. I had listed her
number as an emergency contact on the medical form. . . .
I advocate against the businesses existing because women like me will continue to look in the Yellow Pages and be fooled. I think they should be
listed under adoption because that's what they push. Women who look in the
Yellow Pages for abortion want an abortion and not harassment.
Women need quality health care, not lies and misinformation! When looking for a women's health clinic, watch out for the warning signs listed here so as not to be tricked into a phony clinic. A congressional investigation
estimated that there are 2,000 fake clinics in the United States - nearly
three times the number of real women's clinics. Only by educating
ourselves - and our elected officials - can we protect ourselves from this