Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) use scare tactics to dissuade their visitors from seeking abortion services. The scare tactics include lies about abortion and graphic representations of abortion procedures. Many of the common lies that CPCs tell their visitors can be seen in our CPC Lies About Abortion graphic. The lies that CPC counselors told our investigators included that abortion would cause psychological damage and that it could cause future miscarriages as well as breast cancer.
CPCs use “A Woman’s Right to Know” to legitimize their scare tactics. “A Woman’s Right to Know” is a booklet created by the state that includes misleading information about abortion and fetal development. Almost all of the CPCs that were investigated used the booklet to provide misinformation about abortion to their visitors. “A Woman’s Right to Know” includes an abortion risks section, which lists the death rates for people who have abortions at different stages of pregnancy and promotes the false links between abortion and breast cancer and psychological trauma. Even though the death rate from abortion is extremely low, ((Bartlett LA et al., Risk factors for legal induced abortion-related mortality in the United States, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2004, 103(4):729–737.)) CPC volunteers greatly exaggerate them and do not compare them to the death rate from pregnancy complications, which is drastically higher.((“2011 Women’s Health Stats & Facts.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2011. Page 2. http://www.acog.org/~/media/NewsRoom/MediaKit.pdf)) Although the booklet includes a short section on pregnancy that lists the risks and death rates associated with pregnancy, none of the CPCs volunteers ever showed our investigators that section. Our investigators were often given “A Woman’s Right to Know” and left alone in a counseling room to read it. One of our investigators was forced to read the abortion risks section aloud to her counselor.
CPCs frame abortion as a dangerous procedure, despite the fact that it is one of the safest medical procedures, with a .5% serious complication rate for aspiration abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy ((Weitz TA et al., Safety of aspiration abortion performed by nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants under a California legal waiver, American Journal of Public Health, 2013, 103(3):454–461.)). One of the CPC volunteer counselors not only told our investigator that an abortion could cause her to become infertile, but also told her that abortion procedures were not done “carefully”.
Three investigators were shown graphic videos about abortion that proliferated lies about abortion and its side effects. The videos featured images from an abortion procedure and inflated the complication rate of abortion by skewing the statistics. The video includes lies such as, “women who have an abortion are four times more likely to die in the following year than women who give birth” and that abortion causes birth defects in later pregnancies. In one crisis pregnancy center, the volunteer counselor lied and told the investigator that the state mandated that she watch the video. Texas law has no such mandate, and, in fact, CPCs have no rules or regulations they must follow.
Crisis pregnancy centers not only spread lies about the abortion procedure in an attempt to scare their visitors, but they also demonize abortion providers. When one of our investigators told her CPC counselor that she had an appointment at Planned Parenthood, the counselor told her that Planned Parenthood had abortion quotas and that they were trained to convince people to have abortions, neither of which is true.