Politics

Maura Healey issues warning about ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ in Mass.

“Their goal is to prevent people from accessing abortion and contraception.”

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
David L. Ryan/Boston Globe, File

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued a consumer advisory warning on Wednesday about “crisis pregnancy centers” in the state, cautioning that the organizations do not provide comprehensive reproductive health care and instead typically offer misleading information about the services they offer.

Roe v. Wade

Abortion in Massachusetts remains legal following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court last month. 

In an advisory, the attorney general urged pregnant people seeking to understand their abortion options to consult a licensed reproductive health care provider. Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, the advisory warns, are organizations that seek to prevent people from accessing abortion care, “despite what they may advertise” and more are not licensed medical facilities. 

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“CPCs are NOT typically staffed by licensed doctors or nurses, even though some people who work at CPCs may try to look the part, for example, by wearing a white coat,” the advisory reads. “Some CPCs offer ultrasounds performed by unlicensed personnel who are not qualified to provide that service, which may lead to inaccurate or misleading results about a pregnancy.”

In addition, the organizations that are staffed by unlicensed personnel are not required to keep medical records private or follow the ethics and standards that apply to health care professionals, according to the state. 

“While crisis pregnancy centers claim to offer reproductive healthcare services, their goal is to prevent people from accessing abortion and contraception,” Healey said in a statement. “In Massachusetts, you have the right to a safe and legal abortion. We want to ensure that patients can protect themselves from deceptive and coercive tactics when seeking the care they need.”

“Warning signs” that you may be interacting with a crisis pregnancy center, according to the attorney general’s office, include that the organization: 

Is listed as a pregnancy resource center, pregnancy help center, pregnancy care center, or women’s resource center on websites such as: https://helpinyourarea.com/massachusetts/.

Advertises free pregnancy tests, abortion counseling, pre-abortion screenings, abortion education, but do not provide abortion or help you access care elsewhere.

Attempts to delay your appointment.

Uses tactics to try to pressure you into continuing a pregnancy, for example, by providing baby clothes or a plastic fetus.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is among the lawmakers calling for action against crisis pregnancy centers following the reversal of Roe, introducing legislation last month aimed at clamping down on the deceptive or misleading advertising typically employed by the centers.

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Warren applauded Healey and others for working to crack down on the “deceptive organizations to protect residents and women coming to Massachusetts seeking abortion care.”

“In Massachusetts, so-called crisis pregnancy centers outnumber legitimate abortion care providers 3 to 1,” the senator said in a statement.

Other efforts in Massachusetts are underway to address crisis pregnancy centers.

In Cambridge, city councilors have introduced an ordinance to ban the organizations from operating in the municipality, while other towns and cities are considering other measures to clamp down on the centers. Earlier this year, Somerville passed an ordinance that mandates up to a $300 fine for false and deceptive advertising or circulating misinformation about pregnancy-related services.

Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now, stressed in a statement released by Healey’s office that people facing an untended pregnancy deserve care that is both medically accurate and compassionate. 

“These facilities are often funded by anti-abortion organizations and have one goal in mind: to stop pregnant people from accessing abortion care,” she said. “That’s why clear and accurate information on the dangers of CPCs is so important. In a post-Roe America, we need to ensure people know how to navigate legitimate, unbiased reproductive health care.”

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Below, read the advice from the attorney general’s office if you are pregnant and looking to understand your abortion options:

Do research and ask questions when scheduling an appointment to learn about your abortion options. Be aware of the warning signs.

Look at the website and online reviews before making an appointment. 

Ask whether the center is licensed and will provide you with an abortion or a referral for abortion before you go to an appointment. 

Watch for [the warning signs listed above].

For help finding a licensed reproductive healthcare provider, talk to your doctor or check this list.

When you arrive for your appointment, make sure you are in the right place. Many CPCs are located near clinics that provide abortion and use similar sounding names.

The Attorney General’s Office is committed to securing the civil rights of all people in Massachusetts or traveling to Massachusetts to access healthcare. If you have concerns about your experience with a crisis pregnancy center, file a complaint with our Civil Rights Division online or at 617-963-2917.

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