Accessing abortion care can already be an intimidating process for many people in Texas. In addition to the extreme restrictions lawmakers impose on patients and abortion providers, there’s another burden to navigate for people seeking abortion services: pregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). In this post, we’d like to acquaint you with these “fake clinics” and let you know what to look out for.
The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Unlicensed crisis pregnancy centers are not medical facilities, and they usually aren’t staffed by any medical professionals either. Still, in the U.S., crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion clinics by far.
The graph below shows the number of CPCS (green) vs. Abortion facilities (purple) in every state.
In order to discourage pregnant people (who are seeking advice and resources) from choosing abortion, CPC’s may offer free pregnancy testing, sonograms, or referrals for abortion to get people into their facility. But CPC’s are known to be deceitful, and those who have decided on abortion report having negative experiences. CPCs also don’t offer birth control, condoms, facts about childbirth risks, facts about abortion, or facts about patients’ right to medical privacy. Still, they receive millions of dollars in funding from taxpayers under the Alternatives to Abortion program.
Because CPCs offer free sonogram services, they’re usually operating close-by to a licensed abortion clinic in order to confuse patients and using business names similar to abortion clinics. Oftentimes, protestors outside of real clinics will hold up signs attempting to divert patients to a CPC instead. Some “mobile CPCs,” or busses, even set up in parking lots next to abortion clinics.
(examples of fake and real clinics in Texas – photo taken from Special Broadcasting Services)
While CPC’s rely on neutral messaging to advertise they support all options (Pregnant? Scared? Thinking About Abortion? We Can Help!), patients leave feeling pressured to continue their pregnancy from the language CPCs use and the biased approach they take.
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas visited an Austin CPC in 2018 and reported that they used “fear-mongering” language and lies in order to discourage them from having an abortion. They described abortion as painful for both the “zygote” and pregnant person and claimed 90% of people who have abortions become infertile. In reality, abortion doesn’t affect fertility at all when performed in a safe setting. One Texan even said a CPC harassed her and her partner, chasing them out of the facility, “yelling about not killing the baby and how much God loves us.”
It can be helpful to learn the signs of CPC’s so you can spot those who are out to mislead you. Know the difference between legitimate providers and crisis pregnancy centers by reading their fine print and terms of service on their websites carefully — even if they claim to offer abortion referrals, it isn’t worth risking a bad experience.
On The Local Level
Last year, Austin LifeCare, a crisis pregnancy center, pushed out long-time abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health in north Austin after they lost their lease to a higher offer made by the executive director of the CPC. According to The Austin Chronicle, “Austin LifeCare warns clients of the purported “spiritual, emotional, and psychological effects that can occur after an abortion,” offering “Bible studies” to cope.” Whole Woman’s Health has since relocated.
(Photo from The Austin Chronicle, by John Anderson)
Don’t Call Or Visit Until You Are Sure Who You’re Dealing With
In order to be found by pregnant people searching for resources online, they misleadingly categorize themselves as “women’s health centers” on Google, Yelp and other local websites. While Yelp has taken steps to reduce this problem, Google has not. The consequence of this is when a person searches “abortion clinic” or “where can I get an abortion near me?” on the internet, they may stumble across a crisis pregnancy center listing at the top of the search results because that center paid for this placement even though they do not intend to support a person’s right to an abortion.
These organizations will not counsel you on abortion as an option, even though they use “abortion” as a search term to attract pregnant people who need one.
Common Questions About CPC’s
Can a crisis pregnancy center provide me with an ultrasound?
While some CPCs may offer sonogram services for free, staff have been known to lie about the results so the pregnant person doesn’t think abortion is an option. For example, a person who is eight weeks pregnant may be told that they are close to the gestational limit in their state, which makes the idea of getting an abortion seem like less of a reality. They might be told they aren’t pregnant altogether. This is especially harmful to people who may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening.
CPCs also offer free sonogram services to make people miss their initial appointment at a licensed abortion clinic since Texas requires two separate visits for an abortion: one for the ultrasound, and one for the procedure. People may think they can save money by going to the CPC instead, but under Texas law, the ultrasound must be performed by the same doctor providing the abortion. This means even if the sonogram the CPC provides was real, it can’t be used at the abortion clinic. And because this causes the pregnant person to miss their appointment, patients become at risk of delaying their abortion care and facing additional barriers from increased costs.
Can a crisis pregnancy center provide me with an abortion?
No. Abortions can only be performed at a licensed abortion clinic, and CPC’s are not medical facilities nor do they hold any medical licenses. Sometimes CPC’s will claim to provide “abortion referrals” and counseling, but the experiences patients have are not grounded in medical science, compassion, or truth. The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health lists these signs to look for when trying to determine if you’re speaking to a crisis pregnancy center:
- They are not willing to give you any information about their services over the phone or require that you visit them in person. A center that is not upfront about their services is probably hiding something.
- The center’s website or printed materials don’t mention any licensed medical staff.
- They tell pregnant people that they are either too early or too late for an abortion.
- They require visitors to read or listen to religious materials.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Austin
The Texas Handmaids have compiled a list of CPC’s in the Austin area. They’re committed to exposing the harmful reality of these centers and their donors, and they regularly gather outside of facilities to protest the lies they tell pregnant people. The list of CPC’s in Austin are as follows:
- Pregnancy Help Center of Williamson County
- Agape Pregnancy Resource Center
- Pflugerville Pregnancy Resource Center
- Austin Pregnancy Resource Center
- Heart of Texas Pregnancy Resource Center
- TruCare Pregnancy Center
- Austin LifeCare/TheSource
Below is an illustration provided by Texas Handmaids that shows a “typical client path” through a crisis pregnancy center:
Crisis Pregnancy Centers Outside of Austin
If you live outside of the Austin area, Repro-action provides a Fake Clinic Database on its website. You can search by city or state to view crisis pregnancy centers in your specific area in order to avoid them.
To find a licensed abortion clinic outside of Austin, you can visit the National Abortion Federation’s clinic locator here. You can also visit this locator which will not only direct you to your nearest clinic but also connects you with funding resources should you need it!
Where Can I Get An Abortion in Austin?
In Austin, there are only four licensed abortion clinics:
Austin Women’s Health Center (that’s us!)
1902 S I-35
Austin, TX 78704
Whole Woman’s Health Austin
4100 Duval Rd. Ste 2-201
Austin, TX 78759
Planned Parenthood South Austin Clinic
201 E. Ben White
Austin, TX 78704
Planned Parenthood North Austin Clinic
9041 Research Blvd. Ste 250
Austin, TX 78758
At Austin Women’s Health Center, we’re committed to providing you with quality, patient-centered care. Unlike crisis pregnancy centers, we support you in all pregnancy outcomes — and we’ll always provide you with evidence-based information.
Making the decision to have an abortion can already be complex, and for some patients, visiting a crisis pregnancy center is an invasive, violating experience that can make the decision even harder.
Have you visited a crisis pregnancy center in the past and want to share your experience with us? Fill out the form below