Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has issued a warning about crisis pregnancy centers, saying that these types of centers only offer limited, sometimes unlicensed reproductive health care and may give patients misleading information about their options, including abortion.
Pregnancy crisis centers exist across the country and advertise free services and counseling for women struggling with unplanned pregnancies. Experts have said they provide false or misleading information so women don't get abortions, according to NBC News.
The University of Georgia School of Public Health, which tracks the locations of these centers across the country on its Crisis Pregnancy Center map, says these centers may hurt public health not only by undermining a patient's efforts to get an abortion, but also by offering subpar medical care in other areas, such as STI testing.
Research has shown that these centers already outnumber clinics that offer abortion services across the country and the gap is expected to grow as abortion clinics are forced to close in states that have or will pass laws prohibiting abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. In Massachusetts crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion care centers three to one, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
Healey's warning encouraged patients to do research before making an appointment anywhere, especially if they are considering an abortion, which remains legal in Massachusetts. Crisis pregnancy centers are often funded by anti-abortion organizations and will not offer abortion as an option or other care including contraception, the warning said.
Most crisis pregnancy centers are not licensed medical facilities and do not have licensed doctors and nurses on staff, Healey's warning continued. Because they are unlicensed, they are not required to follow the standards or ethics that health care professionals are held by, the message stated. This means unlicensed, unqualified staff may conduct ultrasounds, which could be read inaccurately, and that they are not required to keep medical records private.
Roe v. Wade
Some red flags to look out for are if a center advertises things like free pregnancy tests, counseling, pre-abortion screenings or abortion education, but will not provide abortions or a referral for care somewhere else, attempts to delay appointments, staff that tries to pressure a patient into continuing a pregnancy, or if the center is listed as a pregnancy resource center, pregnancy help center, pregnancy care center, or women’s resource center.
A list of reproductive health care providers in New England is available here.
Anyone with concerns about their experience at a center can file a complaint with the AG's office online here or by calling 617-963-2917.