For more information on CPCs please visit www.nwlc.org/cpctoolkit. If you have ever gone to a CPC and are interested in filing a complaint or have questions, please contact us at 1(855)CPC-FACT or cpcfact@nwlc.org.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) – organizations that seek to convince pregnant women not to obtain an abortion care or use contraception – are launching initiatives to target women of color. These CPCs are employing deceptive and manipulative practices to reach women of color, with the singular goal of decreasing abortions in minority communities. In doing so, the CPCs are showing profound disrespect for women of color and the reality of their lives. Rather than helping minority communities, CPCs may leave women of color in worse situations and may harm their health.
 
CPCs Are Focusing Their Anti-Abortion Mission on Communities of Color
CPCs are developing initiatives specifically targeting urban communities with high populations of people of color, claiming that they are “underserved.” As explained by the Family Research Council, “[t]he resolute goal of these initiatives is outreach to the underserved as evidenced by their high abortion rates and limited access to pregnancy centers.”

  • Care Net – which calls itself the “largest network of pregnancy centers in North America” – developed an Urban Initiative “to reach underserved and over-aborted people,” specifically women of color, that it claims are being targeted by abortion providers. The strategies include opening new “pregnancy center ministries in underserved areas,” recruiting “champions for life in urban communities,” and “creat[ing] powerful multimedia collateral to help reach abortion-vulnerable inner city people.” The effort is now renamed the Underserved Outreach Initiative, which is “first seeking to serve the community with the highest abortion rate – African Americans,” and then plans to target Hispanic women. Care Net claims that “Everywhere [women in urban communities] turn, they receive the message that abortion is an equally positive option when choosing how to respond to a crisis pregnancy.”
  • Heartbeat International – the first network of crisis pregnancy centers founded in the U.S.– claims to be “irrevocably committed to urban initiatives,” with initiatives in Miami, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
  • An investigation conducted of CPCs operating in North Carolina found that more than 75% of CPCs in the state “operate in communities with higher-than-average populations of color.”

CPCs’ Focus on Women of Color Ignores the Real Problems Facing Those Communities
CPCs have fixated on women of color because of the high rates of abortion in certain communities. Of women obtaining abortions in 2008, black and Hispanic women were disproportionately represented and had higher relative abortion rates than all women. CPCs claim that these higher rates of abortion are due to aggressive outreach by abortion providers to minority communities. Not only is this untrue, but it ignores the real reasons why women of color have higher abortion rates.

Abortion rates are connected directly to unintended pregnancy rates, and rates of unintended pregnancy are high among women of color.  In 2006, black women had the highest unintended pregnancy rate of any racial or ethnic group, and it was double that of non-Hispanic white women. High rates of unintended pregnancies result from “the particular difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively over long periods of time.” High rates of unintended pregnancy also reflect widespread disparities in health outcomes and access to health care which are in turn influenced by social factors such as income, education, employment and earnings, and neighborhoods.

CPCs are not interested in helping women of color avoid unintended pregnancies. They do not provide accurate information about contraception and refuse to refer women to places where they can obtain contraception. Their outreach to women of color and urban communities has focused solely on reducing the number of abortions, not on addressing the underlying causes.
 
CPCs Capitalize on the Circumstances that Make Pregnant Women of Color Vulnerable
Although CPCs are not focused on addressing the underlying problems facing women of color, they capitalize upon the social factors that leave pregnant women of color vulnerable to their outreach. CPCs are targeting neighborhoods that are without health care providers and services. CPCs offer free pregnancy tests and other “services” to communities that generally lack health insurance and live in poverty. By establishing centers in areas where women face these barriers, CPCs present themselves as the convenient and often sole option for reproductive health-related services. Yet, most CPCs are not health clinics staffed by medical professionals and they do not offer true reproductive health services. They are anti-abortion advocates who actually provide limited – if any – health services. Their sole mission is to lure pregnant women into their centers so that they can try to dissuade them from having an abortion.

CPCs’ Misleading and Deceptive Tactics Put Women of Color in Harm’s Way
Rather than helping women of color who are facing an unintended pregnancy, CPCs may put them in harm’s way. CPCs use deceptive practices to lure women into their centers, including pretending to serve as full health care clinics offering a range of services, including offering referrals for abortion care and contraception. In doing so, they divert women from actual primary care and family planning clinics that could provide the services they seek. For women who are poor, lack transportation, have jobs from which it is difficult to take leave, or have children for whom they must arrange care while they are at an appointment, making a trip to a provider is not easy. Making two trips – one to a CPC and then another to a clinic that can actually meet their needs – may delay their access to care or prevent them from seeking it altogether. This could lead to women who want to carry the pregnancy to term missing out on critical prenatal care, resulting in low birth weight babies and higher infant mortality rates.The delays caused by visiting a CPC may force women to seek abortion care later in their pregnancies when care is significantly harder to access.

Once inside the center, CPCs often resort to extreme tactics to prevent women from having abortion care. One woman of color who visited a CPC reported that the CPC went to extremes to try to convince her not to have an abortion, “even telling her she was too far along to have a procedure – which was not true!” By the time she found an abortion provider, she was in her second trimester, which meant additional cost and higher risk. Additionally, because CPCs often provide inaccurate or misleading information about birth control, it could result in women of color avoiding birth control or using it incorrectly, contributing to unintended pregnancies.

Moreover, the shaming, lies, and manipulation employed by CPCs harm the dignity of women of color, even if they are able to obtain care elsewhere. This is especially true because the outreach to women of color by CPCs is often couched in rhetoric around abortion in communities of color being genocide. This genocidal rhetoric aims to shame, humiliate, and intimidate women of color and strip a woman of her decision-making ability by transforming it into a betrayal of her community, her race, and her nation.

Women of Color Deserve Real Solutions, Not Fake Clinics Trying to Dissuade Them from Making Their Own Health Care Decisions
CPCs’ targeting of women of color is being marketed as a helpful service to an undeserved population. However, in their zeal to prevent abortion care at any cost, CPCs are endangering women of color. If CPCs really want to assist an underserved population, they should cease their deceptive practices, end their focus on just reducing abortion rates, and address the real problems facing communities of color. As Trust Black Women has said, “Our communities are overwrought with violence, lack of access to quality education, high rates of unemployment, and lack of access to healthy foods. Those are the real issues – not Black women making the decisions in the best interest of their families.”

For more information on CPCs please visit www.nwlc.org/cpctoolkit. If you have ever gone to a CPC and are interested in filing a complaint or have questions, please contact us at 1(855)CPC-FACT or cpcfact@nwlc.org.

Published On: March 6, 2013