From the AMA Journal of Ethics.
Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that seek to intercept women with unintended pregnancies who might be considering abortion. Their mission is to prevent abortions by persuading women that adoption or parenting is a better option. They strive to give the impression that they are clinical centers, offering legitimate medical services and advice, yet they are exempt from regulatory, licensure, and credentialing oversight that apply to health care facilities. Because the religious ideology of these centers’ owners and employees takes priority over the health and well-being of the women seeking care at these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options. Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health.
<h3>What Are Crisis Pregnancy Centers?</h3>
Drive down any highway in America, and you might see a sign: “Pregnant? Scared? Call 1-800-555-5555.” Most often, these signs are advertisements for crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). CPCs, sometimes known as “pregnancy resource centers,” “pregnancy care centers,” “pregnancy support centers,” or simply “pregnancy centers,” are organizations that seek to intercept women with unintended or “crisis” pregnancies who might be considering abortion. Their mission is typically to prevent abortions by persuading women that adoption or parenting is a better option [1, 2]. One of the first CPCs opened in 1967 in Hawaii .
Most CPCs are religiously affiliated , and a majority are affiliated with a network or umbrella organization such as Birthright International, Care Net, Heartbeat International, or the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates [1, 3]. These umbrella organizations offer legal support, ultrasound training, and other services to CPCs. With an estimated 1,969 network-affiliated CPCs in the US in 2010 , CPCs outnumber abortion clinics, which were estimated at 327 as of 2011 . Many state governments fund CPCs through mechanisms such as “Choose Life” specialty license plates and grants, and many also receive federal funding [3, 6].
In this article, we will argue that both the lack of patient-centered care and deceptive practices make CPCs unethical. We will first highlight the discrepancy between the lack of standards for quality of care provided by CPCs and the innumerable restrictions on abortion clinics. We then show that CPCs violate principles of medical ethics, despite purpor