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Elizabeth Warren’s War on Pregnancy Resource Centers
July 7, 2022
Abortion supporters often claim that they’re “pro-choice,” not “pro-abortion,” a claim that regularly collides with their actual policies. When government policy is bent relentlessly to favor abortion, supporting a woman’s “right to choose” abortion isn’t distinct in any meaningful way from supporting abortion itself.
But abortion supporters reveal how shallow their “pro-choice” ideology is when they oppose helping pregnant mothers make, or even learn about, any choice other than abortion. The most recent example is on display in Congress, where four Democrats are targeting pregnancy resource centers, purporting to “prohibit disinformation in the advertising of abortion services.”
“With Roe gone, it’s more important than ever to crack down on so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ that mislead and deceive patients seeking abortion care,” said Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, promoting her bill. “We need to crack down on the deceptive practices these centers use to prevent people from getting abortion care, and I’ve got a bill to do just that,” she added.
Under Warren’s bill, charities could be fined $100,000 or “50 percent of the revenues earned by the ultimate parent entity” of the charity for violating the act’s “prohibition on disinformation” related to abortion. But the legislation itself does not define prohibited speech. Warren’s bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to “promulgate rules to prohibit a person from advertising with the use of misleading statements related to the provision of abortion services.” Warren’s bill would thus turn the Federal Trade Commission into a national abortion disinformation board. Perhaps the task of determining what counts as a prohibited “misleading” statement would fall to the recently unemployed Nina Jankowicz for the remainder of the Biden administration. Warren does not seem to have considered who might do this job in a future Republican administration.
Warren also signed on to a letter in which members of Congress tried to pressure Google into suppressing search results for such centers — which was followed by a similar letter from the office of New York attorney general Letitia James. It appears not to have dawned on these abortion enthusiasts that pregnancy resource centers are the ones in need of protection, as activists have spent the past two months firebombing and otherwise vandalizing them in the name of promoting abortion access.
Nationally, pregnancy resource centers outnumber abortion facilities three to one, and in some states by as many as eleven to one. Knowing that many women choose abortion because they feel that they have no other option, the pro-life movement has placed tremendous resources into these centers, which exist to offer alternatives to abortion, usually at no cost. That help takes many forms: pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, other prenatal care, pregnancy counseling, assistance considering adoption and navigating the adoption process, and financial or material support for women in need.
Warren’s legislation codifies the long-standing animus of abortion advocates toward these centers, relying on the oft-repeated but rarely substantiated claim that these centers harm women. Pressed for examples, abortion supporters have little to offer.
A report from abortion-advocacy groups examined the websites of about 600 pregnancy resource centers in nine states, labeling them “deceptive” on the basis that they offer “virtually no medical care,” despite using “language and imagery signifying they were providers of medical services.” In fact, many of these centers do offer some types of medical care, and the report divulges no instance of a center advertising for specific services that aren’t actually available.
Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s investigation of pregnancy resource centers — which it labels “fake women’s health clinics” — has turned up evidence only of “lies” such as this one: “More than 67 percent of the locations intentionally referred to the fetus as ‘baby’ and told our investigator she was already a mother because she was already pregnant.”
It is only in the upside-down logic of abortion advocacy that these fundamental realities could be depicted as lies.
Warren’s legislation is hardly the first example of a policy targeting pregnancy resource centers. In California, former attorneys general Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra enthusiastically enforced the Reproductive FACT Act, drafted with the help of Planned Parenthood. The law required pregnancy resource centers to post large advertisements for the state’s free or low-cost abortion program. Though the Supreme Court found the policy unconstitutional, other abortion-friendly states and localities have attempted to enact something similar.
While abortion supporters portray pregnancy resource centers as harming women, in fact these centers offer much that abortion groups themselves don’t provide. Compared with 354,871 abortions performed in 2020, Planned Parenthood offered only 8,626 instances of “prenatal care” and 2,667 adoption referrals. Among Planned Parenthood procedures and services related to pregnancy decisions — including abortion, prenatal or miscarriage care, and adoption referrals — abortion made up more than 96 percent.
It’s easy to see why abortion supporters — and especially those who profit from the provision of abortion — would want to undermine those who offer women choices other than abortion. Research suggests that the model works. One 2021 study found that pregnant women who visit a pregnancy resource center are about 20 percent less likely to choose abortion than pregnant women who don’t visit one. And the Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that over the past five years alone, the nearly 3,000 pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. have saved the lives of more than 828,000 unborn children. Without a doubt, they will continue to save lives and help women in need — despite the best efforts of Warren and her allies.
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