Half of the abortion clinics in Texas closed last year and all but eight or less were summarily forced to shutter after a panel of judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that House Bill 2, the state law restricting (or as some like to claim "regulating") abortion clinics, could go into effect last Thursday. Right now there isn't an abortion clinic west or south of San Antonio and more than 900,000 women pretty much don't have access to an abortion provider.
But never fear. Crisis pregnancy centers are still going strong. There are only two abortion clinics left open in Houston alone but there are more than six crisis pregnancy centers in the area and dozens of CPCs in Texas. Here's a little information about the centers, just in case you ever stumble inside one hoping to evaluate your options (like abortion) during a "crisis pregnancy."
5. They don't provide abortions. You walk in, expecting to get the ball rolling for an abortion -- since it's not exactly a one-step process these days -- but the nice people in the white coats start urging you to choose another path instead. This means you're probably not in one of Texas' few remaining abortion clinics.
These nonprofit centers are usually run by some version of the Christian pro-life crowd and are set up specifically to try and talk women out of having abortions. They offer pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, but they don't provide any forms of contraception (aside from advising the unmarried not to get it on) and they certainly aren't going to provide any form of abortion.
This is a little detail that some of the clinic workers seem inclined to dodge. A recent Vice documentary chronicled a woman's experience with a Dallas center. The worker implied she could receive an abortion through the center (which just so happened to be located near an actual abortion clinic) but refused to quote a price for the abortion or give any more information until the woman actually came to the center. From there, the focus was on persuading her not to have an abortion and that was about it.
4. The CPCs are less regulated than nail salons. But they're all wearing those fancy white coats, right? Yeah, despite the white coats and the fact that these clinics often offer ultrasounds, the centers don't have to meet any state or federal standards, unlike abortion clinics, nail salons and sandwich shops, as Al Jazeera America pointed out. The Department of State Health Services doesn't inspect any of these clinics, not even the ones that offer diagnostic ultrasounds. The Texas Medical Board doesn't require the doctors to report if they serve as medical directors for any of these clinics. They only investigate if someone files a complaint.
Even more remarkably, the CPCs have been quite deft at dodging attempts to get them to be more forthcoming about their unregulated, non-medical status. The city of Austin passed an ordinance requiring the centers to post signs indicating whether the centers provided medical services, whether the medical services were provided under medical supervision and whether the centers were inspected. The clinics filed a lawsuit saying the signage was both forced speech and a violation of their freedom of religion, and that was that.
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3. There are lots of CPCs in Texas. Dozens.So if you walk in and there's no wait, make sure you got the right place. Seriously, while the Fifth Circuit ruling left the state with eight or less abortion clinics, the crisis pregnancy centers have been thriving in recent years. While there are currently only two abortion clinics left in Houston, there are at least six CPCs in Houston alone and there are dozens scattered across the state. Some even offer women's health services that Planned Parenthood was barred from offering back in 2011. You can't get abortions of course, or contraceptives (things Planned Parenthood also provides) but you sure can get a pap smear. Some CPCs are set up right next door to actual abortion clinics, maybe in hopes that women will get confused and wander in to give CPC folks a crack at them. Which brings us to our next point.
2. CPC workers reportedly get "creative" when persuading against abortion The right to choose an abortion is a constitutional right and all, but the folks at CPCs take every opportunity from the time a pregnant woman walks in the door to persuade her that she doesn't want to exercise that right. As in, they will tell you stuff that is patently false. Aside from their creative use of the pamphlet (paid for by the great state of Texas) "A Woman's Right to Know," there all kinds of interesting untrue things that get said when a woman considering an abortion walks into a CPC.
For instance, did you know that having an abortion will give you breast cancer? No? Well, that's what some women have reportedly been told when they've gone to various CPC's, according to Mother Jones. Also, did you know that early legal abortion proponent Margaret Sanger was a Nazi sympathizer? (Spoiler alert: She wasn't.) Sure, CPC workers have been caught stretching the truth. But, heck, these guys aren't even regulated, so lying to the women who come to them seeking help is totally fine. Totally.
1. We actually pay for this. Since 2005, Texas has been subsidizing CPCs, sending more than 430 million (rerouted from family planning programs) to fund CPCs through the Texas Alternatives to Abortion programs. So this means, basically, that these unregulated, un-inspected organizations promote fuzzy interpretations and blatant lies to try and scare women looking for abortions out of having the procedure done, and we get to foot the bill. Meanwhile, there are now more than 900,000 women are now living more than 150 miles from the nearest abortion clinic.