RELEASE: In Jersey City, Gottheimer Sounds the Alarm on Deceptive Anti-Choice Clinics

More than 50 misleading Crisis Pregnancy Centers across NJ. Endanger reproductive freedom

Apr 22, 2024
Press

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

JERSEY CITY, NJ — Today, Monday, April 22, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer sounded the alarm on anti-choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) posing as reproductive healthcare providers across New Jersey and highlighted their intentionally deceptive marketing practices.

Video can be found here.

“I urge everyone to raise their voices about Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the state, so no women in New Jersey ever suffer from their intentionally deceptive tactics. If we don’t stand up now and make our voices heard, far-right extremists will continue to advance their agenda. I’ll say it again: no one should get between a woman, her doctor, and her faith,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “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.”

The dangers of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs):

  • CPCs pose as a healthcare clinic with doctors and nurses, but are often 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 action to combat CPCs includes:

  • 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.
  • Gottheimer, with Congresswoman Angie Craig, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, calling on him to stop the flow of federal tax dollars to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). 
  • Gottheimer urged his colleagues in Congress to vote against far-right extremist legislation that supports taxpayer dollars going to anti-choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC). 
  • 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.

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:

Good morning. I want to thank you for being here today to unite in support of reproductive freedom.

We’re here in Jersey City, right outside one of the more than fifty so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” across our state. This center calls themselves “first choice.” But really, they should call themselves “no choice,” because, despite how they market themselves to women, their goal is to push their own extreme ideological agenda. 

If you look at their website or branding, you can understand why women might go to a so-called Crisis Pregnancy Center thinking they will get real reproductive medical care and counseling.  

They might think, as it says on First Choice’s website, that they can get an ultrasound and “abortion information consultation,” with all of the “abortion options.” This center even has information on the “abortion pill” – or Mifepristone – and “after-abortion care.” But, instead of being availed of their options, women are often referred to people with no medical background who use scare tactics to block the right to choose, even in case of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk. There are no doctors employed here.

As First Choice’s website says in tiny print at the very bottom of the page: “First Choice is an abortion clinic alternative that does not perform or refer for termination services.” Again, despite marketing themselves as a healthcare provider, they never refer or recommend abortion as an option, even in cases where a mother’s life is at risk. When you get to the bottom of it: their business model is intentionally deceptive and manipulative – and gets right between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. Their tactics pose a serious risk to women’s health. And it’s got to stop now. 

Since the Dobbs decision, actual reproductive health clinics have been under attack. Clinics across the country are closing their doors in the wake of state abortion bans. Just this month, Arizona’s Supreme Court upheld a near-total abortion ban from 1864, threatening more than three million women’s reproductive freedom. When these bans come into effect and clinics shut down, women don’t just stop needing reproductive healthcare. I fear that the “only choice” that will be left open in some areas are Crisis Pregnancy Centers, like the one behind us.

Today, I’m sounding the alarm about the dangers of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers and doing everything I can to prevent these anti-choice centers from receiving a cent of taxpayer funding and spreading any more dangerous mis- and disinformation.

These centers could give a masterclass in false advertising. The website of First Choice Women’s Resource Center features a photo of a woman with a stethoscope — front and center, which signals that it is operated by a doctor.

In actuality, according to NJ Monitor, this center is “run by an evangelical ministry that asks volunteers…[to] attest to their beliefs that human life is sacred and abortion is unacceptable.”Notice, they don’t ask for a medical or nursing license.

Some of the information on their website is beyond misleading. On one page, they write, “Due to lack of regulations and unsafe medications, the FDA also issued a warning not to order pills by mail.” That’s completely wrong and made up. Mifepristone is safe to prescribe and can be issued by a physician in person or via telehealth. They go on to fearmonger about medical abortions. Anyone just scanning this website will be easily confused and scared by the vague, aggressive text.

First Choice highlights abortion pill “reversal” — a medical treatment that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has called “unproven” and “unethical.” This so-called treatment can be potentially harmful by giving pregnant women misleading information that an abortion can be undone.

First Choice only offers what they call “limited ultrasound,” which is not sufficient to be a full medical evaluation. 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.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin has issued a consumer alert about their deceptive marketing, warning people that Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not provide health care. In November, the Jersey Attorney General’s Office even launched an investigation of a Crisis Pregnancy Center for violating New Jersey anti-consumer fraud laws. Yelp also stuck a disclaimer on Crisis Pregnancy Centers, informing visitors that they “may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.”

The research is clear: Crisis Pregnancy Centers will do everything possible to prevent a woman from making her own decisions about her own body and to run out the clock.  And, as states impose draconian fifteen, or even six-week abortion bans, time is of the essence. Our country is in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis. More than a thousand women died of pregnancy-related issues in 2021, a sixty percent increase compared to 2018. Instead of empowering these deceptive centers, we should be investing in real, lifesaving reproductive healthcare.

In Congress, I’m working to stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers like this one from the intentionally deceptive practices and from getting in the way of women’s healthcare.

First, I’m helping lead the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act to prevent Crisis Pregnancy Centers from spreading deceptive advertising about healthcare. 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.

Second, I recently sent a letter with my colleague Congresswoman Angie Craig from Minnesota to Secretary Becerra at the Department of Health and Human Services or HHS, urging him to put an end to taxpayer funding of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers. In 2022, eight states bankrolled Crisis Pregnancy Centers with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants or TANF grants.

HHS has introduced a rule that would prevent TANF funding of Crisis Pregnancy Centers last year. Far-right extremists in Congress have attacked that decision, voting to block the rule in the House and introducing companion legislation in the Senate. TANF grants are meant to provide money for work programs, childcare, and pre-k programs that help America’s neediest families, not ideologically-driven Crisis Pregnancy Centers. I’ll continue to do everything I can to prevent this legislation from moving forward. 

Finally, I’m working every day to make reproductive healthcare more accessible. This month, I announced new legislation, the Protecting Personal, Private Medical Decisions Act, to stop legal attacks on the abortion pill. Crisis pregnancy centers are just one chapter in the anti-choice playbook — just like abortion bans and restrictions on IVF. 

I’m grateful that here in New Jersey, our legislature and Governor are putting pressure on Crisis Pregnancy Centers. We need to work together — federal, state, and local officials — to stop these centers from doing more harm. 

I urge everyone to raise their voices about Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the state, so no women in New Jersey ever suffer from their intentionally deceptive tactics. If we don’t stand up now and make our voices heard, far-right extremists will continue to advance their agenda. I’ll say it again: no one should get between a woman, her doctor, and her faith.

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 us today. I know that when we all stand up for women’s healthcare and the right to choose, that here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.

God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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