Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) offer a variety of free, but incomplete reproductive healthcare services, and use misleading and deceptive resources. Their primary aim is to prevent or deter a person from seeking certain reproductive healthcare options, including abortion.

Pregnant individuals seeking reproductive healthcare need nonjudgmental and complete health information to receive the best care, regardless of their decision to continue the pregnancy or seek abortion care.

Anti-abortion pregnancy centers have been criticized for using misleading marketing materials and sharing incomplete information about pregnancy options to discourage using birth control or receiving abortion care.

This article explores crisis pregnancy centers, their purpose, and practices. It also discusses ways a person can identify a crisis pregnancy center and where a person can find the support they need.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) present as healthcare clinics that provide care for pregnant people, but they aim to limit access to abortion care and birth control options. The government has not licensed most of these medical facilities.

CPCs aim to dissuade people in “crisis” or with unintended pregnancies, who might be considering an abortion. Instead, they provide counseling to discourage or limit access to abortion services and manipulate through deception to get people to consider parenting or adoption as better options.

Read more about family planning here.

Who runs CPCs?

Most CPCs in the United States have associations with national religious organizations that oppose abortion and refuse to supply or advocate for birth control. Many have affiliations with umbrella organizations or networks, such as:

  • Care Net
  • Birthright International
  • Heartbeat International
  • the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates

There are an estimated 2,500 to 4,000 operational CPCs in the United States, which speak with over 1 million people yearly.

Other names

The other names that CPCs use include:

  • pregnancy resource centers
  • pregnancy support centers
  • pregnancy care clinics
  • pregnancy support centers
  • pregnancy centers

CPCs may give people the impression that they are medical clinics or have medical expertise even though they do not provide a full range of reproductive healthcare.

Most CPCs also do not have licensed healthcare professionals on staff. However, staff may wear clothing suggesting otherwise.

Religious ideologies take precedence over the health and well-being of people seeking reproductive healthcare. This means people may not receive comprehensive, accurate, and evidence-based clinical information about their options.

CPCs promote anti-contraceptive and anti-abortion counseling and do not provide evidence-based information and treatment options according to accepted medical guidelines.

Misleading health claims and practices

CPCs often make inaccurate health claims. For example, CPCs often suggest an association between getting an abortion and serious mental health problems, and they provide misleading information about contraception.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), other misleading practices may include:

  • stating false risks of abortion
  • suggesting that abortion has a high complication rate
  • overestimating a person’s gestational age to suggest that they have missed the opportunity for an abortion
  • manipulating or shaming people by using disturbing visuals or ultrasound scans
  • using misleading marketing materials and advertising
  • falsely representing the facility as a legitimate and comprehensive clinic
  • understating the impact of pregnancy and childbirth on a person’s health and life

Is this unethical?

The AMA Journal of Ethics states that providing misleading or inaccurate health information violates ethical principles in medicine because it does not consider the patient’s well-being. With CPCs, anti-abortion ideology supersedes the preferences and needs of people seeking reproductive healthcare.

Not providing all of the information needed to make an informed decision without coercion also violates respect for a person’s autonomy.

Because CPCs are not licensed medical clinics, the law does not require them to maintain client confidentiality or adhere to the privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This means they have no obligation to safeguard a client’s right to privacy and confidentiality.

They also violate the medical field’s principle of justice when they impede access to abortion through delays, deception, and other tactics.

CPCs do not follow prevailing medical standards of reproductive and sexual healthcare. They may hinder or delay pregnant people from accessing timely and comprehensive care from appropriately trained, nonjudgmental, and licensed medical professionals.

Read more about the reasons for abortion here.

Not accessing timely abortion care may cause people to have to pay for more expensive procedures or even miss the gestational age ban. This means they may not be able to get an abortion.

CPCs often offer ultrasounds for pregnant people. However, an untrained or unlicensed medical staff member may perform these. This means they may incorrectly diagnose gestational age or miss a diagnosis of pregnancy complications, such as an ectopic pregnancy.

Dissuading women from using contraceptives may also put them at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Some CPCs also promote non-evidenced-based medicines, such as abortion reversal treatments, which are unproven and potentially dangerous.

There are steps that people can take to spot the difference between a CPC and a legitimate reproductive healthcare center. These include:

  • Check their website and look for online reviews.
  • Ask if the clinic is licensed.
  • Check that the center is part of the pregnancy help center or women’s resource center lists on CPC websites, such as
  • Check the center’s location. Many CPCs are near health centers that offer abortion or birth control services.
  • If the clinic offers free pregnancy tests, abortion screenings, counseling, and education but does not offer contraceptives and abortion services or refer people to an abortion provider, they are most likely a CPC.
  • The center uses guilt and other tactics to persuade a person to continue their pregnancy or says negative things about birth control and abortion.

Pregnant people can also go to the crisis pregnancy center map to identify whether the clinic they plan to visit near them is a CPC.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for access to abortion and provides a variety of sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

A person can book an appointment on their website or call 1-800-230-PLAN to make an appointment. See their list of centers across the United States.

Most local health departments offer different reproductive and sexual healthcare services. A person can also look for an abortion clinic from the Abortion Clinics Online Directory.

There are also several online abortion providers, including the National Abortion Federation and Plan C, which offer at-home abortion pills.

Learn more about how far along in pregnancy the abortion pill is still effective.

Roe v. Wade

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, access to abortion is no longer a constitutional right. This means that some U.S. states have banned abortion except in extremely limited circumstances.

People can use this online tool provided by Planned Parenthood to check what the abortion laws are in each state.

Learn more about the different types of abortion and when it’s possible to have one in the United States.

It is not currently illegal to travel to another state to obtain an abortion. However, some states are trying to introduce laws that ban people from doing so and prosecute those who help.

Planned Parenthood also offers advice on the legal risks of ordering abortion pills to a state that prohibits abortion.

Learn more about the safety of abortion home remedies.

Here are some frequently asked questions about CPCs.

Do crisis pregnancy centers follow HIPAA?

CPCs are not legally bound by federal privacy laws, such as HIPAA, which poses risks to their patient confidentiality and information.

Do crisis pregnancy centers receive federal funding?

CPCs receive funding from several sources, including state and federal funding and private donations.

U.S. states provide funding for CPCs, and several states also fund CPCs through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are facilities that present themselves as legitimate healthcare providers, but their primary aim is to dissuade people from obtaining abortion services.

They claim to provide counseling, medical services, and other assistance to pregnant people but provide misleading and inaccurate information to prevent them from seeking an abortion.

People who want to avoid CPCs should research clinics online, check their locations, and ask questions. People can visit Planned Parenthood or check their local health departments for reliable and comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and clinics.