Because the goal of crisis pregnancy centers is to have all of their visitors carry their pregnancies to term, many of them use manipulative tactics to extend their visitors’ pregnancies to the point where abortion is difficult, if not impossible, to access in Texas. Texas law bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and abortion procedures are significantly more expensive after the first trimester, so the farther along a person is in a pregnancy, the more barriers there will be to accessing an abortion. Since restrictive laws have forced many of the state’s abortion clinics to close, abortion is more difficult than ever for Texans to access, especially those living in rural areas. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) take advantage of the lack of public knowledge about recent restrictions on abortion; many of the CPCs that we investigated told their visitors that getting an abortion was “easy.” CPCs convince their visitors that they have plenty of time to make a decision about getting an abortion and then use delay tactics to extend their visitors’ pregnancies.
Some of the CPCs that we visited overstated the possibility of miscarriage in an attempt to convince the investigators to continue their pregnancies. Two of the investigators were told that they did not need to feel rushed into making a decision about having an abortion because they might miscarry. Crisis pregnancy center volunteer counselors told the investigators that about one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage (another said that it was 25-30 percent of pregnancies). While 10-20 percent of known pregnancies do end in a miscarriage, people who are pregnant and want an abortion should not prolong their pregnancy because they think they might miscarry.((“Miscarriage Definition.” Diseases and Conditions. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/basics/definition/con-20033827.)) This tactic puts visitors at medical risk because they might not get appropriate prenatal or abortion care if they are anticipating having a miscarriage.
Another delay tactic that many of our investigators experienced began with their very first contact with the crisis pregnancy center. CPCs often attempt to postpone visitors’ first visit and schedule follow-up appointments for weeks after their initial visit. When one of our investigators called to schedule an appointment with a CPC, they told her that it would be another two weeks before they could fit her in, but when she persisted they said they could see her in two days. When she went in for her appointment, there was only one other person receiving services the entire time she was there. Potentially pregnant people are put at risk when their appointments are delayed because, in the meantime, they might not seek the care of a doctor who would provide them with accurate information about their pregnancy and determine if there are any complications.