Column, "Deceptive Care," by Haydeé Morales, Vice President of Education, Training, and Margaret Sanger Center International at Planned Parenthood of New York City and Balin Anderson, Director of Social Services for the Bronx Center at Planned Parenthood of New York City, published in Spanish in El Diario (1/24/11)
In early August, a patient of ours was looking for the Planned Parenthood health center on 149th Street in the Bronx. As she tried to find her bearings, a woman approached her.
The woman directed her instead to a Crisis Pregnancy Center across the street, where staff showed her graphic videos, and claimed that abortions are dangerous procedures performed by inexperienced doctors. All inaccurate and disturbing information.
This summer another young woman we consulted with visited a Crisis Pregnancy Center for a pregnancy test. When she explained that she was planning to terminate the pregnancy and would like to leave the center, the staff member first requested and then demanded that she stay. The staff member proceeded to show her disturbing videos, harangue her about the morality of abortion, and scare her with misinformation about the risks associated with abortion.
Unfortunately, we hear these stories all too often. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do their best to masquerade as legitimate medical providers who offer unbiased, accurate medical information and services. Yet, once inside, women are subject to harassment, judgment, and a litany of false information designed to discourage them from seeking FDA-approved birth control methods and legal abortion.
The worst part? As of now there is nothing on the books regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and women have no way of distinguishing between them and legitimate medical providers.
But the New York City Council has introduced legislation that would regulate these centers Ė requiring them to be upfront about what they do and donít provide, and to keep womenís information private.
Women need access to good, reliable medical care, especially in the early stages of a pregnancy. Crisis Pregnancy Centers keep women from receiving that medical care, putting their health and even their lives at risk.
New York has many places women can turn for safe, reliable medical care, no matter what their employment, insurance, or immigration status is. Many of these providers also offer unbiased counseling for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, allowing her to weigh all of her options equally. Crisis Pregnancy Centers offer women none of those things.
Itís time that we regulate these deceptive centers, and ensure that women get safe, reliable access to the care they need.
Itís time the New York City Council passes this legislation.