How openDemocracy is tracking anti-abortion misinformation around the world
Nine months ago, we began following the money of two US religious right groups. Then, we deployed our own global network – of feminist investigative journalists.
Claire Provost and Nandini Archer
12 February 2020
US religious right activists with links to Trump’s White House have supported the spread of what are called ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ around the world, openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash project revealed this week.
There are thousands of these centres in the US where some have been previously criticised for presenting themselves as neutral health facilities while hiding their anti-abortion and religious agendas from women who are looking for help. But the global scale of these activities has not been mapped until now.
Abortion advice should be as safe as abortion itself
By Tracey Allyson Wilkinson
January 31, 2020
It’s completely reasonable for people to disagree about the morality of abortion. It’s completely unreasonable — and unethical — for medical professionals and those masquerading as them to give potentially life-endangering misinformation about it.
Abortion by medication has been available in the United States since 2000, when it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The regimen consists of two pills taken 24 to 48 hours apart. The first pill, mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone, which is required for pregnancy. The second pill, misoprostol, causes the uterus to empty. This two-pill approach is currently used in 39% of all abortions in the U.S., a proportion that has been increasing over time.
Need an Abortion? There’s an App for That
by Steph Herold
Published on January 22, 2020
If you needed accurate, evidence-based information about abortion, would you know how or where to find it? Most people have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction when it comes to abortion, and you really can’t blame them: Anti-abortion misinformation is everywhere, from fake pregnancy centers to racist, shaming billboards to your state legislature. And now there’s an even more intimate way to access abortion information that can be truthful and reliable or wildly misleading—an app on your smartphone.
As Abortion Access Dwindles, App Offers Safe and Discreet Options
By Erin Sagen
Published December 5, 2019
Each year, 25 million unsafe abortions are performed around the world. The rate of unsafe abortions is higher where access to skilled providers and effective contraception is limited or unavailable, or where sexual education is lacking.
Accessing medically accurate information about abortion can be a sensitive pursuit for people desperate for answers; it’s particularly dire if they’re pregnant without wanting to be. Decisions based on misinformation can lead to disability — and even death.
The New Front Line of the Anti-Abortion Movement
As rural health care flounders, crisis pregnancy centers are gaining ground.
By Eliza Griswold
Nov 11, 2019
On the door of a white R.V. that serves as the Wabash Valley Crisis Pregnancy Center’s mobile unit are the stencilled words “No Cash, No Narcotics.” The center, in Terre Haute, Indiana, is one of more than twenty-five hundred such C.P.C.s in the U.S.—Christian organizations that provide services including free pregnancy testing, low-cost S.T.D. testing, parenting classes, and ultrasounds. Sharon Carey, the executive director of the Wabash Valley center, acquired the van in January, 2018, for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, after finding a company that retrofits secondhand vehicles with medical equipment. That May, Carey began to dispatch the van to rural towns whose residents often cannot afford the gas needed to drive to the C.P.C. or to a hospital. Carey has selected parking spots in areas with high foot traffic, so that prospective clients can drop in to learn about the C.P.C.’s services. In Montezuma, she chose the lot outside a Dollar General. In Rockville, she discovered an I.G.A. supermarket frequented by the local Amish community; the van parks next to the hitching post where Amish shoppers tether their buggy horses. Driving straight up to the Amish farms would have been the wrong approach, Carey felt. The community is insular, and was unlikely to welcome outsiders offering their teen-agers free pregnancy tests or screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Pregnant people are being offered an unproven treatment to “reverse” abortions
There’s no real evidence that it works — and no data on the side effects.
By Anna North
Nov 11, 2019
“Even if you’ve taken the abortion pill, you can still change your mind,” proclaims the website of a group called Alternatives Pregnancy Center.
The center offers what it calls “abortion pill reversal,” a treatment it claims can stop a medication abortion that’s already been started. Many organizations around the country are beginning to offer the procedure, and a growing number of states require that patients seeking abortions be told about it.
Can Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Family-Planning Funds?
By Ed Kilgore
Nov 8, 2019
Like nature, federal funding streams abhor a vacuum. So when the Trump administration pushed Planned Parenthood out of women’s family-planning programs by stipulating that recipients could not refer patients to (or have an organization connection with) abortion providers, a pot of about $60 million a year suddenly became available to anyone who could supply the stipulated services without running afoul of the new regs.
For the most part, the anti-abortion movement’s favorite alternative to Planned Parenthood clinics, its huge (an estimated 2,750 of them) network of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” don’t really pretend to offer “family planning” or women’s health services. They mostly exist to talk or coerce pregnant women into carrying pregnancies to term, providing (at most) limited services (ultrasounds, of course, and perhaps neonatal health advice and adoption referrals) to make that choice seem morally or religiously obligatory.
A new chain of Christian pregnancy centers will provide a controversial service: Contraception
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
November 7, 2019
AUSTIN — When a low-income woman searches for reproductive care, she often goes to a Planned Parenthood clinic, where she’s treated as a patient with an array of medical options. Or she might go to a Christian pregnancy center, where she is counseled to carry a pregnancy to term.
But some Christians now see an opening for a third way to reach women — before they become pregnant — that also enables them to compete for federal money Planned Parenthood has decided to relinquish.
Crisis pregnancy centers' endanger adolescent health, doctors say
November 7, 2019
(Reuters Health) – “Crisis pregnancy centers” look and act like healthcare clinics but fail to meet medical and ethical standards, often using biased and inaccurate information to persuade women not to pursue an abortion, say two national doctors’ groups.
The “misinformation” these centers offer typically includes limited options for the next steps of pregnancy and unscientific sexual and reproductive health explanations, according to a joint statement by the Society for Adolescent Health and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
California Just Became the First State to Require Public Colleges to Provide Abortions
Medication abortion must be available on campus starting in January 2023.
by Marie Solis
Oct 11 2019
California became the first state in the country to require its public universities to provide medication abortion on campus after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the “College Student Right to Access Act,” or Senate Bill 24, into law on Friday. The University of California and California State University systems don’t currently offer abortion on campus.
The 34 universities have until January 2023 to comply with the new legislation, time that will be used to assess each campus health center’s ability to provide medication abortion, a first-trimester procedure that involves administering two pills to induce what is effectively a miscarriage.