Anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers,” which often advertise themselves as “health clinics” to women who suddenly find out that they’re pregnant, have been distributing medically inaccurate information to women to discourage them from having abortions, new undercover recordings from a pro-choice organization confirmed.
NARAL Pro-Choice America emulated some of the tactics of anti-abortion activist Lila Rose and recorded undercover audio at some of Virginia’s anti-choice CPCs. The NARAL press release is quick to point out that these facilities receive state funding through the sale of custom “Choose Life” license plates. “Ken Cuccinelli – whose anti-choice activism has helped shut down legitimate women’s health clinics across the state – has said he was the ‘proud sponsor’ of the legislation behind the license plates when he served in the State Senate,” the release said.
In the first recording, embedded below, a woman who identifies herself as “Caitlin” says she is going into “A Woman’s Choice,” a CPC in Falls Church, Virginia. “Caitlin” speaks with a cheerful-sounding woman that she goes to George Washington University Law School and “smoked a lot of weed” and made a lot of “bad decisions.”
It’s clear that “Caitlin” wants an abortion, but the woman discourages her from obtaining a medical abortion — not only because the pregnancy has reached 11 weeks and medical abortion is typically not recommended after five or six weeks (though the National Abortion Federation says they’re not possible after nine weeks), she said they’re “nasty in my mind” and that “pieces of the dead baby” can stick inside the uterus and cause infection “like a sliver.”
Later, she tells her in a high-pitched voice, “There’s a little baby growing inside of you!”
In the second recording, a CPC worker tells an unidentified woman that “chemicals” in birth control are dangerous. “If you’re not married, why are you having sex? Because you know if you get pregnant it’s going to be an issue,” she said. “The more you have sex the more chances of you getting pregnant. Even if you’re on birth control, it’s not 100 percent effective. Condoms are not completely effective.”
She went on to say that though condoms were “about as effective as birth control” they were “naturally porous” and that condoms “don’t secure you from STDs either.” She explained that “the only thing that’s necessary to get an STD is skin-on-skin contact.”
“That whole term safe sex?” she continued. “It’s a joke.”
It is true that condoms, even when used correctly, don’t eliminate the risk of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common STD that the Centers for Disease Control estimates has infected some 79 million Americans. However, condoms are considered highly effective for preventing most other STDs, including HIV, which can lead to AIDS.
The woman in the second recording women also told her client that birth control gives women a higher risk of cancer. When the client interrupted her to ask if that’s why they tell women on birth control to avoid smoking, the CPC woman simply responded, “I don’t know what smoking would have to do with the blood clot. I’m not a doctor!”
Most forms of birth control, she explained, were “secreting artificial hormones into your uterus. Really? You want that stuff up inside of you? Come on! You have a brain. Think and choose here!” She also explained that even if an IUD doesn’t have hormones, like the copper version, then “you have a copper that’s slowly getting into your uterus.”
Listen to the first recording, below.
Listen to the second recording, below.
["Stock Photo: Worried Young Female Checking Pregnancy Test Isolated On White Background" on Shutterstock]
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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