Pro-Choice Demonstration. Prominent sign reads, "You can't ban abortion; you can only ban safe abortion."
Following the Supreme Court's 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade, Massachusetts lawmakers strengthened legal protections for abortion providers, mandated insurance companies cover abortion services, and expanded stockpiles of medication abortion drugs; photo by Matt Hrkac, CC BY 2.0.

‘Deceptive’ tactics by crisis pregnancy centers focus of Mass. legislation

Legislation in Massachusetts would ban some of the tactics used by “crisis pregnancy centers” to prevent people from having abortions.

Many of the centers have the words “medical” or “health” in their names, but do not offer licensed reproductive medical care.

Laurie Veninger, reproductive rights activist for the Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition, said the centers advertise “free” tests and ultrasounds and then pressure women into continuing their pregnancies.

“If they were a business, that would be curtailed by existing laws about deceptive advertising,” Veninger pointed out. “But these places are religious nonprofits.”

Veninger explained the crisis centers are often located near abortion providers, where anti-abortion activists try to lure people their way. Abortion opponents contend the centers simply offer confidential services to those facing unplanned pregnancies.

Following complaints, the Department of Public Health recently sent a memo to nearly 30 crisis pregnancy centers regarding state laws and patients’ rights.

Veninger argued Massachusetts is “in the crosshairs” of what she calls “religious extremists,” targeting states where abortion remains legal. She asserted many low-income people are being deceived, with potentially dangerous outcomes.

“Some of them have told us that they called up and made an appointment, because they thought they were going there for an abortion,” Veninger observed. “And then when they got there, didn’t get one, and then, they had to wait another week to get the appointment at the real clinic.”

Veninger emphasized the extra week can mean the difference between having a medication abortion or requiring a surgical procedure. A class-action lawsuit claims a nurse at the Clearway Clinic in Worcester County failed to inform a patient her ultrasound showed an ectopic pregnancy, nearly costing the patient her life.

by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service

Kathryn Carley began her career in community radio, and is happy to be back, covering the New England region for Public News Service. Getting her start at KFAI in Minneapolis, Carley graduated from the University of Minnesota and then worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, focusing on energy and agriculture. Moving to Washington, D.C., she filed stories for The Pacifica Network News and The Pacifica Report. Later, Carley worked as News Host for New York Public Radio, WNYC as well as Co-Anchor for Newsweek’s long running radio program, Newsweek on Air. Carley also served as News Anchor for New York Times Radio. She now lives near Boston, MA.

Languages Spoken: English

Topic Expertise: education, environment, nuclear energy

Local Expertise: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Wisconsin, Minnesota

Demographic Expertise: public schools, families, children, nutrition

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