What NPR Got Wrong About Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Pregnant people deserve the full story. NPR, like crisis pregnancy centers, failed to give it to them.

On Monday, National Public Radio (NPR) released a piece on “All Things Considered” praising crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) for the services they provide new mothers. The piece (appropriately) garnered immediate backlash from reproductive rights advocates for its biased, one-sided reporting of what is widely considered misleading and harmful practices of CPCs.

The article was published during NARAL, Lady Parts Justice League, and Shout Your Abortion’s “Week of Action” aimed at exposing fake health clinics. Interestingly, there was no coverage on NPR about the national effort to spread awareness about “unlicensed, unregulated” centers.

Many “crisis pregnancy centers” are not licensed clinics, but rather provide minimal services and referrals. Their goal is to prevent people from obtaining abortions, and there have been many records of CPCs using deceptive means in order to do so.

NPR published the same misinformation that often draws women into these “fake clinics,” legitimizing their deceitful means.

There have been accounts of women being lied to about the gestational age of the fetus, delaying their abortion care until it is too late. Some have used false facts in order to convince women they may not need an abortion. One crisis pregnancy center encourages women to wait and see if “natural pregnancy termination” (otherwise known as a miscarriage) is right for them.

In 2014, there was an estimated 788 abortion clinics in the United States, and the attack on reproductive rights has led to even more widespread closure to clinics since then. Meanwhile, crisis pregnancy centers have garnered niche support from anti-choice politicians and donors, helping fund the nearly 2200 across the country.

NARAL Pro-Choice American has documented the rise of CPCs — and the harm. The increase in crisis pregnancy centers are part of a conservative agenda to decrease access to abortion care by funding CPCs with taxpayer dollars. Additionally, politicians use TRAP laws to force clinics that provide abortions to close — leaving many people without any other choice than a CPC.

NPR neglected to cover why so many individuals are directed to CPCs in the first place. And while the reporter cited Medicaid statistics by American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — she failed to mention that ACOG itself has come out against CPCs, stating they “use misinformation to divert women from appropriate care.”

CPCs intentionally target a demographic they never intend to support — women seeking abortions. And they use dishonest methods to restrict and limit women from accessing their legal right to abortion care.

Many states and local governments have pushed back against CPCs. In fact, this month King County Board of Health in Washington passed an ordinance requiring CPCs without medical licenses to post notices informing the public that they are not health care clinics. And in June, a federal court upheld a San Francisco ban on crisis pregnancy centers due to their deceptive tactics.

The question is not whether or not the women featured in the NPR story benefited from CPCs. If CPCs were open about their services and limitations, there would be no issue. But CPCs intentionally target a demographic they never intend to support — women seeking abortions. And they use dishonest methods to restrict and limit women from accessing their legal right to abortion care.

Everyone should have all the information and resources they need in order to make the decisions that are best for them and their families. CPCs have routinely neglected to do that. And NPR published the same misinformation that often draws women into these “fake clinics,” legitimizing their deceitful means.

In an era of “alternative facts,” news outlets have the increasingly challenging task to sift through misinformation and find accurate stories. The NPR segment published on Monday was simply an example of poor reporting — an attempt to find a new “hook” on CPCs that instead resulted the same old propaganda.

Pregnant people deserve to have accurate information. Unfortunately for them, NPR did not deliver the full story.