The Deceptive Practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

From the Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.

In the Yellow Pages, “Abortion Alternatives” appears before “Abortion Providers.” If a Manhattan woman seeks an abortion provider in the yellow pages, she will first see an ad for “Pregnancy Help, Inc.” The ad reads, “Pregnant? Need Help? Free Pregnancy Test.” Although it appears that this group might perform abortions, it does not. This is typical of the deceptive advertising occurring across the nation.

Many “pregnancy help centers” use a handbook called How to Start and Operate a Pro-life Outreach Pregnancy Service Center, published in 1984 by the Pearson Foundation, a Catholic organization headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. The sole purpose of these centers is to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions. They employ a carefully calculated subterfuge in their efforts, and claim an 87 percent success rate with the women who come to the centers. The 84-page handbook covers everything from choosing the right name for the center, to keeping a pregnant girl away from parental influence. Excerpts from the handbook:

“We have discovered over the years that a neutral name such as “Abortion ABC’S,” “Abortion Advice” or “Pregnancy Problem Center” is the most effective way to reach these women who are pregnant and who are considering abortion.”

“The handbook suggests renting office space in the same building as an abortion clinic, then “the abortion chamber is paying for advertising to bring the girl to you. Hopefully, if the girl who would be going to the abortion chamber sees your office first with a similar name, she will probably come into your center.”

“Our primary function is to find and assist those women who might be seeking an abortion to change their mind.”

“Do not indicate you are pro-life. If she is seeking an abortion and indicates she won’t come in because she knows we are pro-life, assure her we can still help her by giving her all the information on abortion.”

“When a caller asks, ‘Are you a pro-life center?’ say, ‘We are a pregnancy center, part of the Pearson Foundation. What is pro-life? We have many ways to help a woman and will answer any and all questions regarding pregnancy and anything she needs to know about abortion.’”

“Make sure your decor does not expose your purpose.”

“Keep a few baby items hidden away in your Center, so that you are not advertising your pro-life views. But sometimes the gift of a little baby outfit before she leaves, is the very thing that will clinch the mother’s decision for life.”

“Pregnancy tests: Never allow a client to watch while you are doing a test.”

“If the client asks how long it takes to do the test, tell her we offer the results in 30 minutes, you will have the results by that time. (You have not told her how long it takes you to run the test, but how long it will be before she has the results of the test.)” [Editor’s note: A pregnancy test takes two to five minutes. During the 30-minute period, the centers show the client a deceptive and misleading video about the dangers of abortion.]

“Client must stay at the clinic for the results of the test.”

“We want to avoid having a client feel that she is being deceived or pressured instead of being educated. Therefore it is imperative to proceed to the presentation with the proper introduction.”

“Do recommend a second test if the client tends to still favor an abortion.” [Editor’s note: Cases have surfaced where clients have been encouraged to go back weekly, for up to four weeks, to confirm a pregnancy. This strategy is to bring a woman closer to term, in hopes of avoiding an abortion.]

“Question: How far does a volunteer go to help a mother not to abort her unborn child? Answer: How far would you go to save your own life?”

“Counselors should also be thoroughly familiar with Willke’s Handbook on Abortion, Flanagan’s The First Nine Months of Life, From Conception to Birth, and When You Were Formed in Secret.

“Never counsel for contraception or refer to agencies making contraceptives available. Fornication is still a sin no matter what the circumstances.”

The Crisis Pregnancy Centers encourage young girls not to tell their parents they’re pregnant until they are far along in their pregnancy (after all, they say, “she’s pregnant, not ill”). “This way the girl will become accustomed to being pregnant. Also, more importantly, if she is quite far along in her pregnancy, her parents will be more likely to admit that it is a baby and not push for an abortion.” (Also: “We must respect our parents even if they are wrong. However, we can respectfully decline to follow their authority when they are leading us against God’s word.”)

“If the girl is being pressured into abortion at her home, and she is willing to go to a ‘foster’ home, even though she may be a minor, take her at once. Call the parents and let them know their daughter came to you for help and didn’t want an abortion.”

“Try to make every effort to keep the daughter from the parents until the parents understand the significance of what an abortion really means.”

“She may have to slip out the back door if the parents come to take her for an abortion. She may have to get lost in this way two or three times before the parents stop pushing for an abortion.”

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