Fake women’s health centers—AKA fake clinics—are not new. They started popping up in the 60s and really took off in the 80s and 90s. Their goal is to deceive and pressure people to carry a pregnancy to term – and they truly go for it lying to people, scaring them with bullsh*t claims about abortion and contraception, and some even share personal medical information with family members or people in the community to try to coerce folks to keep a pregnancy or shame them about having sex outside of marriage. You can learn more in this report from The Womxn Project.
Also last year we hosted a discussion exposing fake clinics featuring partners from across the country. Watch it here:
Are you horrified? Us too!
These predatory places also often pop up in areas targeting low-income people or near college campuses and given that there are no real requirements these places can just open up on a whim. So while a legitimate clinic needs to follow basic safety standards and hire trained staff making it difficult to expand the availability of reproductive health services, fake centers are opening and closing all the time and can just hang up a sign and lure people in with little funding or logistical considerations – or drive a sketchy van around. Yes, that is happening, too. Here in Rhode Island there are only two providers while right now there are about 6 sham centers and there have been as many as 11.
We should not stand by as folks are preyed on, lied to and harmed! And we aren’t!
- Throughout this week and beyond, The Womxn Project will be conducting various public educational efforts to help raise awareness and make sure folks do not accidentally end up at one of these fake centers. We will share tips on how to identify if a place you are visiting is a legitimate facility or one of these fake places.
- We will also be doing a little direct action to raise awareness and make it clear that you can have your own opinion, but you don’t get to lie to people to take away their health decisions or harass people to push your own views on them. You can follow on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all week to see us shaking things up – and helping to expose the lies!
- We just can’t allow a situation where people who are already struggling to get health services are being preyed on and lied to – or worse, denied info and referrals, so that timely care is delayed. We are supporting the federal effort to urge the U.S. Health and Human Services agency to clarify who is a covered entity for privacy rules, limit when entities can share information on abortion or pregnancy, and make clear that reproductive health information cannot be shared with law enforcement agencies who target individuals who may be seeking an abortion.
We will continue to shut down efforts like a 2021 bill that would have created a program to funnel state money to a local crisis pregnancy center. Fortunately, after a huge public outcry the bill was defeated, but in other states we have seen money taken from social safety net and public health programs to give funds to these deceptive places.And of course we will keep pushing for affordable access to the care people need from compassionate, trained professionals by getting rid of barriers through the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act and an expanded agenda of abortion access bills in 2023!
People have strong feelings about abortion and we each get to have our own opinion, but we should not be able to take decisions and care away from someone else – or in this case actively lie and disseminate inaccurate information to people who may already be in a tough position and need comprehensive information and affordable health services – not judgment or harassment.
SHAM CLINICS GO AWAY!
What a week we had and there is even more to come! Last Monday, The Womxn Project launched a week of action to shine a light on sham clinics. We had volunteers show up at fake facilities in Providence and Westerly with signs and flyers around the clinics to make sure folks know that right in their community people are being targeted and harmed by these centers.
We also had a virtual day of action on Wednesday where folks raised awareness – and a little hell to shine a light to make sure folks are not preyed on and let these places know we are paying attention. Reach out to us if you are interested in getting a copy of the toolkit and taking a little virtual action on your own time! Visit our Facebook to see more pics, watch videos and learn more.
The week ended with a FABULOUS editorial from TWP board member, Dr. Ogechukwu Uwanaka and Dr. Megan Smith in the Providence Journal talking about how these fake centers worsen health disparities. Check out their piece!
Worried someone you care about could end up in one of these places? TWP has been sharing educational info, including how to spot them! We also created a list of the known facilities in our state. Check it out and share it widely to help #ExposeFakeClinics.
We are continuing our efforts with a set of virtual actions on September 7th and 8th. Sign-up to find out more and help us spread the word!