Last week’s episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee went headlong into the controversial phenomena of ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ in the United States, institutions which present as women’s health clinics but actually promote an anti-abortion agenda.
The centres, which do not offer termination services, now outnumber actual abortion clinics in the country where access to abortion remains a hotly contested political issue.
While they’ve been around for a while, their methods of targeting women have become increasingly sophisticated, including locating near women’s health clinics and employing search engine optimisation.
The centres offer free nappies, parenting classes and sometimes even temporary housing. The Lincoln Pregnancy Centre promotes its offerings as ‘abortion information & women’s medical services.’
Roland Warren, President and CEO of Care Net told the New York Times that crisis pregnancy centres were evidence of conservatives taking “a compassionate approach” to the issue of abortion, providing support for mothers who may otherwise opt for termination.
Others feel misled.
Cherisse Scott told Full Frontal she ended up in a crisis pregnancy centre after looking for women’s healthcare services in the Yellow Pages. They had the largest advertisement.
“I did feel like when I was in the facility for the ultrasound that I was talking to a real nurse giving me real medical information,” she said.
Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, said that’s exactly the image they try to project.
“They locate next to an abortion clinic, sometimes in the same building,” she said, “they con women into thinking that they provide the full range of reproductive healthcare services when they absolutely do not.”
Saporta accuses crisis pregnancy centres of providing fake ultrasound readings to make it seem like women are further into a pregnancy than they are, and of delaying pregnancy test results so they have time to convince women of the perils of abortion.
That was certainly Cherisse Scott's experience.
“The nurse told me that if I had an abortion my uterus would be perforated and I would not be able to have children,” Ms Scott said, “I ultimately decided that I would go ahead and have the baby because I didn’t want to chance not ever being able to have a baby.”
Cherisse Scott said she loves her son completely.
“But, I’ll be very honest with you, if I could do this all over again I would have an abortion.”
You can watch the episode of Full Frontal below (segment starts at the 12 minute mark) and catch it every Tuesday exclusively on SBS2 at 8PM or anytime on SBS On Demand.