The Truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers

When driving around South Dakota, you may see a billboard advertising a pregnancy center that offers free medical testing or advice and think, I hope I never need that place but, at least there is a medical facility around if I do need one. Then you go to their website and there is extensive talk about pregnancy testing and medical referrals and “absolute confidentiality.” All information seems to point to the fact that this is a standard medical clinic that focuses on pregnancy.

But the truth is many crisis pregnancy centers in South Dakota are tied to a specific anti-abortion agenda and will use the a woman’s appointment  to impose their agenda. On the other hand, true medical clinics focus on care and leave their personal views at home. In fact, if you look at one organization’s website in Maryland, for instance, they specifically state that a crisis pregnancy center is NOT a medical facility (some states require nonmedical disclosure, South Dakota does not). It has been documented that pregnancy centers spread misinformation and use intimidation and guilt to coerce women into making important health care decisions. A recent example from Washington can be found here.

Many staff at these centers are volunteers with no formal medical training. CPCs like the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls invite the public at large to volunteer to be “Counselors” and to help with “Data Entry.” What data do you think they are entering? Your private, personal information. They are not bound by medical privacy laws, so they may be discussing your case over coffee at the nearest Starbucks, around their dinner table, or use your case as an example for their next “abstinence only” script.

Do not be fooled by the advertising and the wording of these pregnancy centers. If they were up-front, they would freely state they are not a medical clinic. But they don’t. They are no more bound by medical practice or Federal HIPAA privacy laws than the local town gossip.

These are important points to remember as HB1217 is debated in the coming days.

HB1217, sponsored by long-time anti-choice activist Rep. Roger Hunt, institutes forcible “counseling” at anti-choice clinics. Under the guise that women and families are too ill-informed to make their own decision, HB1217 creates a government mandate forcing women to subject themselves to interrogation and biased “counseling” at a Crisis Pregnancy Center before they would be able to obtain an abortion in South Dakota. CPCs are not doctors’ offices; they are unregulated organizations staffed by volunteers without medical training and there are no standards for receiving un-biased, accurate medical information.

Please contact your legislators and tell them to stop HB1217. It is government intrusion at its worst.

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