Two of the nation's leading anti-choice groups, Heartbeat International and Care Net, have increased efforts to add Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in urban areas with large African-American and Latino populations. Since 2003, Care Net has opened 13 new CPCs in such areas and 15 more are being planned for Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and other major cities around the country. There are already 2,300 CPCs operating in the United States.1
The movement to increase the number of CPCs in urban areas is based on statistics that 90% of abortions occur in urban areas, not rural or suburban areas where the majority of CPCs are currently located.2 There is also evidence that black and Latina women have 52% of all abortions and that 57% of women who had abortions were poor or low-income women.3
Unfortunately, CPCs may not help the women they are trying to serve. A major problem with CPCs is that they are known to provide medically inaccurate information. A study released on July 17, 2006 reported that 87% of federally funded CPCs provided false and misleading information about the physical and mental health effects of abortion, erroneously linking them with infertility, breast cancer, and mental health problems.4 Masquerading as neutral informational organizations, CPCs often advertise with slogans like “Pregnant? You have Options.”5 Meanwhile, CPCs are, in fact, solely working to convince women with unplanned pregnancies not to have abortions. Laura P. describes, firsthand, CPC's use of ultrasound photos to create a sense of obligation to carry a pregnancy to term. “After administering the ultrasound, the nurse turned the screen to show me the sonogram results. She said, ‘This is the fetus.' Below the photo of the fetus, someone had typed in the words ‘Hi Mommy!'”
Additionally, many pro-choice and family planning groups believe CPCs are unequipped and unwilling to effectively deal with the racial and economic tensions present in many urban areas. Heartbeat International and Care Net both have a predominantly white, conservative membership, while their proposed clients are primarily people of color with progressive leanings.6 Despite these realities, some employees of CPCs state that racial differences will not be an issue. Other CPC employees see the potential for racial tensions and have attempted to woo local African American pastors and recruit community volunteers to help create a more diverse staff.7 However, CPCs fall dangerously short of providing adequate services to women in urban communities. While advocating carrying pregnancies to term, the vast majority of CPCs do not provide parenting classes, nor do they provide assistance to women after birth. Instead, they offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and basic prenatal counseling.
“These predatory fanatics don't lift a finger to help the children who are born unwanted and unplanned,” said Jatrice Martel Gaiter, head of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. “In these centers of deception, they leave young parents at best with a box of Pampers and a prayer. They leave people even more vulnerable than when they walked through the door, without any information about how to avoid a future unintended pregnancy,” Martel Gaiter continued.8
For more information about crisis pregnancy centers, please see:
- David Crary, Pro-life on Murder Row, The Washington Times , (22 August 2006), accessed on 13 September 2006, < http://washingtontimes.com/culture/20060821-115725-2546r.htm >
- An Overview of Abortion in the United States , Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health and the Guttmacher Institute (May 2006), accessed on 13 September 2006, < http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/abort_slides.pdf >.
- Amy Bryant, Stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers , Planned Parenthood (20 April 2006), accessed on 13 September 2006, http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles-press/politics-policy-
- Care Net accessed 13 September 2006, < http://www.care-net.org >.
- Crary, Pro-Life on Murder Row
- Groups that Oppose Abortion Rights Launch Initiatives to Increase Number of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Black, Latino Inner Cities , Kaiser Network (22 August 2005), accessed 13 September 2006, < http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=2&DR_ID=39354. >
- Crary, Pro-Life on Murder Row