Today is April 1 – otherwise known as April Fool's Day. With that in mind, Choice USA, the National Abortion Federation, and the office of Senator Robert Menendez have deemed it the perfect opportunity to let it be known that we won't be fooled anymore.
Who's fooling us, you ask? Well, it's a problem bigger and much more heinous than a typical April Fool's joke you'd pull on your friends. And it's a problem that's affecting millions of women around the nation. That problem is the Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that confuse and misinform women around the country.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers are well-disguised as all-options health centers for pregnant women and girls. They are also often well-funded (and sometimes with taxpayer dollars too). While many of them offer inexpensive or free pregnancy tests, they also prey on unsuspecting, vulnerable women, load them with misinformation and lobby them to become parents using fear tactics.
Young women, students, and women in lower-income communities are the most heavily targeted by these centers, with an abundance of misleading and deceptive "bait and switch" advertisements in university, college and community newspapers. Day in and day out, students on campuses across the nation tell the stories of young people being led into such centers, hopeful that they'll find answers and options. Instead, they find misinformation, deception, and intimidation.
The worst part about it is that students and young women are some of the most vulnerable to these bait and switch tactics, and the negative outcomes to their lives as a result. Young women and students typically have fewer financial resources, fewer health care options, and relative inexperience navigating the health care system. It is for these reasons that they are much more likely to be drawn in by the lies in CPC ads offering free and inexpensive services. Women needing unbiased answers and medical care administered by health professionals walk into these CPCs (often staffed by volunteers with little or no medical expertise) unaware that they are being used as pawns by activists with a political agenda who don't truly value their needs and wants.
Ads published in campus and community newspapers make promises like, "Free confidential services, all-options counseling, abortion information, medical referrals, and free ultrasounds." However, the reality is that many women are denied the services they seek, or they are met with no information, misinformation, referrals to Ob/Gyns who refuse to provide abortion care, and forced ultrasounds. Some CPCs have even gone so far as to present pregnant women with congratulatory "new Mom starter kits" complete with baby clothes, whether or not they have made up their minds to become parents.
Choice USA and NAF have teamed up to support a bill that Senator Menendez is rolling out today called the Stop the Deceptive Advertising in Women Services, to help stop these abuses. Young women and students around the country are waging campaigns in their communities already, hoping to inform others about the misinformation doled out by local CPCs. This April 1st will be known as "We Won't Be Fooled Day." Celebrate with us and call your Senators to ask them to co-sponsor the bill too. And together we can ensure that by April 1, 2009, Crisis Pregnancy Centers won't be fooling anyone anymore.