RELEASE: Gottheimer Launches Campaign to Shutdown Deceptive Anti-Choice Clinics Posing as Women’s Healthcare Providers in NJ

Oct 06, 2023
Press

Above: Gottheimer in front of an anti-choice clinic posing as a legitimate healthcare provider.

HACKENSACK — Today, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), in front of an anti-choice clinic posing as a legitimate healthcare provider, announced new action to prevent these crisis pregnancy centers from providing false or misleading information that puts women’s health at risk. Gottheimer plans to stop at deceptive crisis pregnancy centers across New Jersey so women know they exist and to fight to shut these dangerous centers down. 

There are more than 50 crisis pregnancy centers in New Jersey which are not staffed by licensed medical health professionals. Women often go to these healthcare hoax clinics thinking they will receive real medical help, but instead they are greeted by people with no medical background whose goal is to manipulate and mislead women with their own ideological agenda.

The dangers of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs):

  • CPCs pose as a healthcare clinic with doctors and nurses, but are not staffed by licensed medical professionals.
  • CPCs regularly ignore medical ethics and are staffed by people with no medical background whose goal is to manipulate women with their own ideological agenda.
  • New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin issued a consumer alert, warning people that crisis pregnancy centers do not provide health care. They are organizations that seek to prevent people from accessing reproductive health care and provide false or misleading information.
  • CPCs lie about the risks associated with abortion, use aggressive tactics to manipulate women into changing their minds based on no medical information, and deceive women into thinking they’re too far along to legally get the care they need.
  • CPCs promote dangerous medical misinformation such as abortion pill “reversal” — an unproven and unethical treatment. This so-called treatment can be potentially harmful by giving pregnant women misleading information that an abortion can be undone.
  • In June, a woman sued a CPC for failing to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in an emergency surgery and the loss of her fallopian tube.
  • CPCs don’t provide legitimate prenatal care or refer women to health clinics that would offer a full range of health services. 
  • CPCs locate their facilities near real healthcare clinics so their employees can physically divert women away from real healthcare providers. 

Gottheimer’s new action to stop anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers:

  • First, Gottheimer plans to stop at deceptive crisis pregnancy centers across New Jersey so women know they exist and to fight to shut these dangerous centers down. 
  • Second, Gottheimer is helping lead the Stop Anti-abortion Disinformation Act in the House to prevent crisis pregnancy centers from spreading deceptive advertising about health care. This legislation directs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit mis- and dis-information related to abortion services and authorizes the FTC to penalize organizations that break this rule.
  • Third, Gottheimer sent a letter to the Governor and leaders in the State Legislature asking them to build on their good work ensuring New Jersey is a safe haven for a woman’s right to choose, by restricting crisis pregnancy centers’ deceptive marketing practices. Gottheimer also wrote to support state legislation to outlaw this type of advertising that masquerades as health care.

“Women go to these healthcare hoax clinics thinking they will get real medical help, but instead they are greeted by people with no medical background whose goal is to manipulate women with their own ideological agenda,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We need to do everything we can to shut down these so-called clinics. We need to stop the fake programming they’re pushing. Today marks my first stop at one of the many healthcare hoax centers around the state – women need to know they exist, and we must shut them down. We will make our voices heard and call out crisis pregnancy centers across the state so no women in New Jersey ever suffer from their abusive tactics. It’s up to all of us to spread the word about these dangerous centers.”

“We applaud Congressman Gottheimer’s efforts to ensure that all individuals have access to accurate and reliable information about reproductive health care services.  So-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ exist to push a dangerous agenda fueled by misinformation.  It is important that we work together to support quality health care providers that adhere to a higher standard of care with respect to individual privacy and health care decisions,” said New Jersey Family Planning League President Rachel Baum. 

“What is a health care clinic with no doctors? No nurses? No healthcare workers at all? It is simply a facility designed to spread false information to the women seeking care. There are currently more than 50 CPCs in New Jersey and at least one in every county. In order to be a true safe haven for women seeking reproductive care, we must eliminate the spread of misinformation from these PCs and improve our desire to care,” said Bergen County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz.

“These centers masquerade as clinics and guidance centers providing unbiased information for women in crisis. But these centers are run by evangelicals who operate on the principle that women are just baby-making machines who fall for deceptive advertising and that fetal rights trump women’s rights every time. They use guilt and misinformation to interfere with a woman’s autonomy and decision-making process in an anguishing moment,”said Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso.

“Crisis pregnancy centers prey on women in the most vulnerable moments of their lives. A far cry from health care, these places compound trauma by misguiding and misrepresenting their true, ideological goals. Women deserve dignity, they deserve to trust their health care providers and they deserve to have all possible options to make the best and most mindful decision for themselves and their family. We have laws against false advertisement, we should have laws against drawing in desperate women under false and misleading pretenses,” said Assemblywoman Ellen J. Park (LD-37).

Gottheimer was joined by Bergen County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, and New Jersey Family Planning League’s Expanding Abortion Access Program Director Ashley Generallo.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer in front of an anti-choice clinic posing as a legitimate healthcare provider.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

I want to thank you for being here today to unite in support of a woman’s right to choose and access to safe healthcare. As you know, I don’t believe anyone should get between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. 

I think we’d all agree that these have been dark times for women’s health care since the Supreme Court issued the Dobbs decision overturning Roe versus Wade, ripping away personal and private protections for millions of women across America — putting their health and safety on the line. That decision opened the floodgates for extremists in statehouses across our country to ban abortions even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Last summer, it was reported that a 10-year-old young girl in Ohio was raped and forced across state lines to get an abortion. 

In Mississippi, a 13-year-old girl was raped by a stranger and forced to give birth because of the state’s abortion ban. Her family found it impossible to get her an abortion because of the bans enforced in Mississippi and most surrounding states following the Supreme Court’s devastating ruling.

Medical schools in many states have stopped teaching new doctors, including OBs, how to treat women who need emergency life-saving procedures, including sepsis. And ultra-right governors have banned abortion at six weeks, when most women don’t even know they are pregnant.

We’re here today in Hackensack to confront another seismic threat to women’s health and safety.

The Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center behind us looks harmless, but it’s actually one of many deceptive “clinics” across our state and country known as crisis pregnancy centers. A crisis pregnancy center poses as a healthcare clinic with doctors and nurses, but you actually won’t find any healthcare professionals behind those doors. 

Women go to these healthcare hoax clinics thinking they will get real medical help, but instead they are greeted by people with no medical background whose goal is to manipulate women with their own ideological agenda.

These places are so dangerous that New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin issued a consumer alert, warning people that crisis pregnancy centers do not provide health care. They are organizations that seek to prevent people from accessing reproductive health care and provide false or misleading information.

Employees at more than 50 crisis pregnancy centers across New Jersey, including the one behind me, lie about the risks associated with abortion, use aggressive tactics to manipulate women into changing their minds based on no medical information, and deceive women into thinking they’re too far along to legally get the care they need.

Crisis pregnancy centers promote dangerous medical misinformation such as abortion pill “reversal” — an unproven and unethical treatment. This so-called treatment can be potentially harmful by giving pregnant women misleading information that an abortion can be undone.

In June, a woman sued a crisis pregnancy center for failing to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in an emergency surgery and the loss of her fallopian tube.

These clinics don’t provide legitimate prenatal care or refer women to health clinics that would offer a full range of health services. Instead, these centers mislead patients, steering them away from the full range of care available to them – and put their lives and safety at risk.

Crisis pregnancy centers will also locate their facilities near real healthcare clinics so their employees can physically divert women away from real healthcare providers. There is a Planned Parenthood here in Hackensack right down the street. 

Women should be going to real healthcare centers like Planned Parenthood at their most vulnerable moment, where there are doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals.  

We must do more to protect women from these dangerous crisis pregnancy centers.

First, we need to do everything we can to shut down these “clinics.” We need to stop the fake programming they’re pushing. Today marks my first stop at one of the many healthcare hoax centers around the state – women need to know they exist, and we must shut them down. We will make our voices heard and call out crisis pregnancy centers across the state so no women in New Jersey ever suffer from their abusive tactics. It’s up to all of us to spread the word about these dangerous centers.

Second, there are legislative actions we can take at the federal level. In Congress, I’m helping lead the Stop Anti-abortion Disinformation Act in the House to prevent crisis pregnancy centers from spreading deceptive advertising about health care. Our legislation directs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit mis and dis-information related to abortion services and authorizes the FTC to penalize organizations that break this rule.

Third, Governor Murphy, Attorney General Platkin, and Democrats in the state legislature, including Assembly Members Lisa Swain and Chris Tully and Senator Joe Lagana, have done a great job on protecting a woman’s right to choose. I believe we can do even more here in New Jersey. That’s why this morning, I’m sending a letter to the Governor and leaders in the State Legislature urging them to further protect a woman’s right to choose by restricting crisis pregnancy centers’ deceptive marketing practices and to support state legislation to outlaw this type of advertising that masquerades as health care.

All of this builds on our important work to protect a woman’s right to choose. 

Earlier this year, I proudly introduced, and I’m working to pass, my Freedom to Decide Act — to protect doctor-prescribed access to the abortion pill and support telemedicine across state lines. The legislation is essential to protecting the fundamental right for all women to make personal, private health care decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures, and reaffirms what we all know to be true: access to mifepristone does not violate federal law.

Again, no one should get between a woman, her doctor, and her faith.

If we don’t stand up now and make our voices heard, far-right extremists will continue to advance their agenda to take away women’s right to choose, even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

This is just common sense, and what most Americans know is right. We can’t allow extremism to win. We must fight to defend a woman’s right to choose and access safe healthcare.

Once again, I want to thank everyone here for joining me today and for all the work you and your members do to help our New Jersey community. I’m very proud to stand with you to make Jersey an even greater place.

Thank you and God bless our great country.

### 

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