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“Women’s Pregnancy Centers” Are Not There to Help

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

In 2022, we saw the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, a case that set a precedent by protecting the right to have an abortion. After its reversal, over 500 anti-abortion bills were introduced throughout the United States. Several states have flat out banned abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. 

Those who are seeking an abortion may be left with little options. They may be low-income, live in a place with little access, or just might not know the options that are available. This can lead people to the doorsteps of a crisis pregnancy center aka an anti-abortion clinic (AAC).

AACs are clinics advertised as low-cost centers that help women. Many of them have the terms “women’s care”, “your choice”, and “pregnancy resource center” in their title. To people seeking services, they probably think they are going to get valuable resources and abortion services. Meanwhile, these centers scare people into not having an abortion by using a variety of tactics. 

The tactics used by AACs are outlined in Robert Pearson’s manual: How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach Crisis Pregnancy Center. This manual guides workers on how to intentionally mislead the public on what services AACs provide. One example includes that staff can answer the question, “Are you pro-life?”, with “We are a pregnancy center. What is pro-life?” Another tactic used is to be vague over the phone when describing what the clinic actually does.

One thing to note about these clinics is that the staff are not trained medical professionals. Once a pregnancy test or ultrasound is done, clients are provided with false information about abortion. This can include lying about how far along someone is in order to make it seem like they are too far along to receive an abortion. They may also lie about the health risks of getting abortion, including that it can cause an increased risk of breast cancer, a claim that is unfounded. They also lie about the mental health effects of having an abortion using the term “post-abortion stress”. Due to their lack of medical regulation, they do not have to adhere to HIPPA. This means that AACs can release all sorts of private information, including STI history and past pregnancies. 

AACs also lie to clients about abortion laws so clients are forced to carry to term. Staff may tell clients that abortion is legal throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy, while it’s not in most states. They may also lie about the percentage of pregnancies that end up in miscarriages to steer people away from abortion. AACs also manipulate and shame people that come into their clinic. At a vulnerable time in people’s lives, AACs use the opportunity to emotionally manipulate clients. After going to these clinics, many clients felt like they were forced to carry their baby. Staff also try to intimidate clients by using their religious beliefs especially when it comes to asking whether or not God would agree with clients getting an abortion. They also believe that contraception is working against God. 

AACs also use SEOs to target those who search up “abortion clinic” online. These searches lead to websites that look like they will provide real abortion help but are instead AAC-run websites. They also put ads on billboards, bus shelters, and even on TV. 

Since April, the Socialist Feminist Working Group (SocFem) has been picketing against AACs. The NC State chapter of the YDSA recently joined in on these pickets as well, focusing on one center in particular, Gateway Women’s Care.

Gateway Women’s Care is an AAC located minutes away from NC State Campus. Their website states that they are a “faith-based organization” that provides health services “without condemnation or manipulation.” 

SocFem and YDSA believe that picketing is the most effective tactic they can use against these AACs. Members held signs to alert the public about the harm this center in particular causes. They also hand out pamphlets to those who walk by the clinic, alerting them of Gateway being a fake abortion clinic.

Overall, they saw a good amount of support from mostly drivers. There were only a handful of negative onlookers that shouted things like, “Trump 2024.” There were also “antis” that were there to distract picketers from getting their message across. 

One of the main problems with AACs are that they are typically in areas near college campuses and low-income populations. They also are deliberately put near centers that will actually provide people with abortions like Planned Parenthood. 

In North Carolina, there are almost 100 AACs compared to just 14 real abortion clinics. AACs are also taxpayer funded in North Carolina. Another way they get funding is through “Choose Life!” license plates. Every time someone buys a “Choose Life!” license plate in North Carolina, the profits go directly to AACs. 

Pickets like the ones organized by YDSA and SocFem are important because of Gateway Women Care’s closeness to NC State. AACs want college students to come to their clinics and these protests can bring more awareness to students at NC State and other colleges close by. Another impact of these protests is that protestors don’t harass or focus on patients that come to the clinic. Picketers focus on the impacts of the clinics themselves and how they are supported. 

In order for there to be change in the system, we have to start by getting mad. Last year, senate democrats sent a letter to anti-abortion organization asking how AACs obtain and protect client’s personal information. Electing officials that care about these important issues is vital to the movement. By spreading awareness of these issues, we can stop people from getting targeted and manipulated at these fake abortion clinics. We can also support clinics that do provide abortion and other healthcare services like Planned Parenthood. AACs are not there to help women like they claim to, but we can change that. 

Ava Dandurand is a writer with Her Campus at NC State University. This is her first year at NC State and writing with Her Campus. She is currently pursuing a degree in Natural Resources with a concentration in Policy and Administration. She graduated from CCTL Early College in 2023 with both her high school diploma and associate degree in science. She also was president of the Model UN team, leading a group of fifteen people to a regional competition. She has written two articles in her local paper, Iredell Free News. She has written about environmental justice issues in her hometown. After graduation, she hopes to pursue either Environmental Law or Environmental Research in Boston. Ava is originally from Milford, Massachusetts but moved to Mooresville, NC in 2012. She lives with her mom, dad, and dog, Scout. She loves listening to music, writing, reading, singing, watching reality television, exercising, and playing the Sims. Her favorite artist is Taylor Swift and has seen her twice in concert. She is currently obsessed with Modern Family, Legally Blonde, Vanderpump Rules, The Bear, Dance Moms and Schitt's Creek.