Most clients at a pregnancy resource center sought free diapers and baby clothes, with only 2 percent discussing abortion, according to a new peer-reviewed study that explores why people visit crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
A trio of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), analyzed six months of intake records from 273 clients who visited the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington, Indiana. The center offers a variety of pregnancy-related services, including abortion referrals—the only pregnancy resource center in the state to do so, according to the study.
Clients most commonly sought diapers (87 percent) and baby clothes (44 percent), with only four clients, the study said, asking about abortion services.
The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Contraception.
The fact that so few clients discussed abortion surprised the researchers, said co-author Katrina Kimport in a phone interview Thursday with Rewire.
“I mean that’s just incredible,” said Kimport, assistant professor with the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program at UCSF. “Based on the public discussion about crisis pregnancy centers, we anticipated that it would be larger.”
Typically run by religious groups, CPCs often masquerade as reproductive health clinics with the primary goal of dissuading “abortion-minded” pregnant people. In contrast, All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center is run by Backline, a national nonprofit organization that describes itself as offering “unconditional and judgment-free” pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption support.
Researchers also found that few clients discussed their pregnancies with counselors at All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center. Only 6 percent of clients asked about pregnancy options, but 55 percent of clients discussed parenting resources or referrals.
While acknowledging the limited scope of the research, Kimport suggests the findings illuminate a possible mismatch between the resources sought by clients and the ostensible aim of crisis pregnancy centers.
Kimport noted that the work underscores that pregnant people are not making abortion decisions at these centers. Instead, as authors of the report indicate, pregnant people arrive at their decisions by conferring privately with family and friends.
The research comes as nearly half of states now funnel tax dollars to CPCs, often at the expense of community health care.
As Rewire reported this month, Georgia’s Republican lawmakers are poised to direct a potential $2 million to the state’s CPCs. Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation, and ranks poorly on infant health and mortality.
As Georgia Democrats pointed out, the state has rejected Medicaid expansion and support services that could help families.