A Dallas, TX area crisis pregnancy center featured in Misconception.
Hit play on Vice News's documentary Misconception, and you'll immediately be greeted by a haunting image of people lined up on the edges of a sidewalk leading to the door of a Washington, D.C. area Planned Parenthood. A man reads off a list of female names, each punctured by a uniform cry of "may God have mercy on her soul." The chants more resemble the sounds of church service than they do a scene outside of medical office. But these are the drastic tactics that anti-abortion advocates use to propel women away from the doors of places like Planned Parenthood, and into the walls of a crisis pregnancy center.
As of this year, crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) outnumber abortion clinics five to one throughout the United States, Vice News reports. They claim to offer emotional support and a free pregnancy test and sonogram. But really, it is a chance for pro-life supporters to mislead women and capitalize on their vulnerable state. "You go in asking for help, but they're not giving you the kind of help that you're asking for," Donna, who ignorantly went to a CPC seeking termination and instead was given an unwanted sonogram and a lecture about faith, says. "I feel like I was lied to, I feel like I was tricked." The revealing film exposes the lies that they fed their so-called patients. The 20-minute film reveals the jaw-dropping misconceptions that are fed to women who are seeking abortions but end up in CPCs.
1. They trick Google into showing the link to these centers when a woman searches for phrases such as "pregnancy symptoms." To get your attention, they need you to believe that they are offering you what you're looking for. "If they were up front about what their purpose was and what they did, no one would go," Bethany Herrera, who has worked for an abortion provider for over 20 years, says.
2. When a woman mistakenly calls a CPC and asks for abortion pricing information, she is told she must come into the center to receive the details. This is how the centers mislead women who mistakenly think that CPCs offer the procedure.
3. Visitors are warned about the "physical and mental consequences" of abortions. According to counselors, these include substance abuse, a perforated uterus, a higher risk of suicide, toxic shock, and possible death. In actuality, less than .05 percent of those who undergo first-trimester terminations result in complications serious enough to require a hospital visit.
4. Some of the cautions doled out aren't just exaggerated, but are simply wrong. In the video, a counselor states that there is a correlation between her risk of breast cancer and the number of abortions she's undergone. Multiple studies have disproved this claim.
5. They call into question the ethics of providers. One CPC counselor can be heard saying that termination is an "all-cash business." It's not just their ethics that are attacked, but the safety practices, as well. Another one quipped: "It could never be safe, it's so totally unnatural."
6. The centers are often located next to or across the street from operating clinics. This strategic placement enables them to misdirect women attempting to keep their appointments at the nearby facility, giving them the opportunity to dispense their gospel.
7. During one woman's visit, the counselor inaccurately relayed the age of her fetus. The further along you are, the more difficult it is to procure an abortion. The desire is that she will be deterred from following through if she believes she is deeper into her pregnancy than originally anticipated.
8. They try to make your appointment personal. In one instance, a CPC employee pulls out a model of a 12-week-old fetus, and even offers to let her keep it—because everyone needs one of those lying around the house, right? On top of that, they make their space welcoming. In one instance, the consultation was staged in a comfortable room, complete with plush couches, artwork of blossoming flowers, and soothing, pale green-hued walls.
Watch the full documentary to learn more, below.
Diana is a producer at ELLE.com. She previously wrote for MarieClaire.com. Diana is a Syracuse grad and a Chicago native, and therefore a pro at dealing with cold weather. She's also an Anglophile, which means she love all things British—especially Downton Abbey, London, and Will and Kate (and Prince George!)
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