Crisis Pregnancy Centers

This law topic summary was last updated on: September 12, 2018

Crisis pregnancy centers, often referred to as limited service pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers, are non-profit health clinics that intentionally mislead pregnant people about their reproductive health-care choices in order to prevent them from obtaining abortions.

There are over 3,500 crisis pregnancy centers in operation across the country. CPCs are almost entirely backed by anti-choice organizations, including: Care Net, Heartbeat International, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA).

CPCs employ a variety of deceptive tactics in order to discourage pregnant people from choosing to obtain an abortion. They routinely trick patients seeking abortion into entering their facilities by looking like an abortion clinic, opening next door to one, or running misleading abortion ads on Google. Once a pregnant person visits these clinics, CPC representatives deceive patients by making false claims about the physical and mental risks of abortion and providing false information about contraceptives. CPC representatives will also engage in emotional manipulation by showing graphic videos, providing baby items, or by using terms such as “baby” and “killing” when referring to the fetus and abortion.

In 2009, Baltimore became the first city to enact an ordinance requiring limited-service pregnancy centers to post signs in their waiting rooms indicating that such centers do not provide or make referrals for abortion or birth-control services. A similar ordinance was passed in Montgomery County, Maryland, requiring centers to post signs indicating the lack of licensed medical providers on staff. Both ordinances were later blocked by federal courts. Similar local ordinances in Texas and New York have also been blocked and/or revised in court.

In 2015, California passed the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act. The law requires crisis pregnancy centers to disclose to patients that their facilities do not offer comprehensive reproductive care, including contraception and abortion. The law requires the state’s licensed pregnancy centers to display a brief statement with a number to call for access to free and low-cost birth control and abortion care. Additionally, facilities without medical licenses are required to post a notice saying they have neither a license nor licensed providers on staff.

The conservative law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), challenged the law on behalf of NIFLA, arguing the law violates their First Amendment free speech and religious exercise rights. Both the lower court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the disclosures, holding they fell within the state’s broad power to regulate medical providers to protect patients. ADF and NIFLA appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to take up the challenge. In a 5-4 decision on June 26, 2018, the justices sided with the CPCs and ruled that the California law likely violated the First Amendment, and the case was sent back to the lower courts for reconsideration.

In 2017, Hawaii enacted a law requiring anti-abortion clinics inform pregnant people of the availability of comprehensive family planning services. Once again, ADF and NIFLA filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing the law violates their free speech and religious exercise rights. That same year, ADF sued the state of Illinois, in federal and state court, after a new law was enacted requiring pregnancy centers to provide referrals for abortion services. All cases are currently pending.

Examples of pro-CPC state legislation (last updated September 12, 2018)

Legislation supporting crisis pregnancy centers typically come in two forms: resolutions commending the work of CPCs, and laws seeking to increase state and federal funding of CPCs (at the expense of actual reproductive health clinics).

Enacting proclamations honoring CPCs around the country may seem harmless, but this strategy lends legitimacy and government approval to CPCs despite their deceptive tactics. Such resolutions typically contain language commending the work of CPCs; acknowledging the so-called contributions they make to women’s reproductive health; encouraging federal and state funding for CPCs; and denouncing reproductive rights organizations that work to expose their deceptive tactics. This type of resolution is based on model legislation drafted by the Americans United for Life (AUL).

Laws seeking to increase state and federal funding of crisis pregnancy centers come in various forms. Some laws attempt to increase funding of CPCs through the state’s budget; while other laws create grant programs for entities that promote pregnancy and parenting services as alternatives to abortion. Other laws attempt to divert tax dollars from federal programs, like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

According to an analysis by Rewire, in this fiscal year alone, CPCs in 14 states (Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin) will receive over $40 million in taxpayer dollars.

Finally, many states fund CPCs through the issuance of “Choose Life” license plates. According to Guttmacher, 32 states allow the production of “Choose Life” license plates; 17 of the states donate a portion of the proceeds raised to specific anti-choice organizations or crisis pregnancy centers; and 10 states specifically prohibit any funds raised from being distributed to organizations that provide abortion services, counseling, referrals or advertising.

Laws

Title Number State Proposed Status
Missouri Two-Parent Notification Law 2014 (HB 1192) HB 1192 Missouri Dec 27, 2013 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 1848) HB 1848 Missouri Feb 13, 2014 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Prohibiting Regulation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers 2014 (HB 1103) HB 1103 Missouri Dec 3, 2013 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Prohibiting Regulation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SB 50) SB 50 Missouri Dec 1, 2012 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Prohibiting Regulation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SB 658) SB 658 Missouri Jan 6, 2014 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Increasing Income Tax Credits for Contributions to Pregnancy Resource Centers (HB 1132) HB 1132 Missouri Dec 6, 2013 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Prohibiting Regulation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers 2013 (HB 31) HB 31 Missouri Dec 3, 2012 Failed to Pass
South Dakota Bill Requiring Waiting Period and Counseling (HB 1217) HB 1217 South Dakota Jan 31, 2011 Current
Kansas Honoring Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SCR 1606) SCR 1606 Kansas Jan 22, 2013 Current
Louisiana Resolution Commending Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SR 110) SR 110 Louisiana May 15, 2013 Current
Illinois Choose Life License Plate Bill (HB 1244) HB 1244 Illinois Feb 1, 2013 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Regarding Two-Parent Written Notification Requirement (HB 99) HB 99 Missouri Dec 2, 2014 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 351) HB 351 Missouri Jan 5, 2015 Failed to Pass
Arizona Bill Regarding Ultrasounds Performed at Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 2467) HB 2467 Arizona Jan 15, 2015 Failed to Pass
Arizona Bill Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers 2015 (HB 2227) HB 2227 Arizona Jan 29, 2015 Failed to Pass
Minnesota Bill Regarding Abortion Facilities Licensure Requirement (SF 794) SF 794 Minnesota Feb 12, 2015 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Prohibiting Regulation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 919) HB 919 Missouri Feb 11, 2015 Failed to Pass
Michigan Choose Life License Plate Bill (SB 84) SB 84 Michigan Feb 5, 2015 Proposed
Michigan Choose Life License Plate Bill (HB 4140) HB 4140 Michigan Feb 5, 2015 Proposed
Illinois Choose Life License Plate Bill (HB 423) HB 423 Illinois Jan 28, 2015 Proposed
California Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775) AB 775 California Feb 25, 2015 Current
New York Bill Regarding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (S 508) S 508 New York Jan 7, 2015 Failed to Pass
New York Bill Regarding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (A 4055) A 4055 New York Jan 29, 2015 Failed to Pass
New York Bill Regarding Crisis Pregnancy Center Disclosures (A 3748) A 3748 New York Oct 29, 2013 Failed to Pass
New York Bill Regarding Pregnancy Service Center Disclosures (S 5175) S 5175 New York May 13, 2013 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 1906) HB 1906 Missouri Jan 7, 2016 Failed to Pass
Arizona Bill Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers 2016 (HB 2206) HB 2206 Arizona Jan 13, 2016 Failed to Pass
Nebraska Choose Life Plates Bill (LB 768) LB 768 Nebraska Jan 6, 2016 Failed to Pass
Georgia House Resolution Recognizing Pregnancy Centers (HR 1306) HR 1306 Georgia Feb 8, 2016 Current
Georgia Senate Resolution Recognizing Pregnancy Centers (SR 820) SR 820 Georgia Jan 26, 2016 Failed to Pass
California Pregnancy Center Notice Requirement for Abortion Clinics (AB 2775) AB 2775 California Feb 19, 2016 Failed to Pass
South Dakota Bill Revising Regulations for Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 1212) HB 1212 South Dakota Feb 3, 2016 Current
Georgia Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program (SB 308) SB 308 Georgia Jan 28, 2016 Current
Oregon Bill Funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 4059) HB 4059 Oregon Feb 1, 2016 Failed to Pass
Louisiana Resolution Commending Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SCR 72) SCR 72 Louisiana Apr 20, 2016 Current
Louisiana Resolution Commending Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HCR 82) HCR 82 Louisiana Apr 18, 2016 Current
Indiana Bill Regarding Civil Rights Protections and Religious Freedom (SB 344) SB 344 Indiana Jan 7, 2016 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Relating to the Protection of Religious Organizations (SB 916) SB 916 Missouri Jan 13, 2016 Failed to Pass
Oklahoma Bill Regarding the Posting of Certain Information (SB 30) SB 30 Oklahoma Feb 6, 2017 Current
Missouri Bill Reauthorizing Tax Credits for CPCs (SB 15) SB 15 Missouri Jan 4, 2017 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Providing Protections for Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 174) HB 174 Missouri Jan 4, 2017 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Providing Protections for Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SB 41) SB 41 Missouri Jan 4, 2017 Failed to Pass
Oregon Bill Funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HB 2125) HB 2125 Oregon Jan 9, 2017 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Reauthorizing Tax Credits for CPCs (HB 655) HB 655 Missouri Jan 19, 2017 Failed to Pass
Kansas Resolution Honoring Crisis Pregnancy Centers (SR 1706) SR 1706 Kansas Jan 23, 2017 Current
Georgia Bill Regarding the Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program (SB 193) SB 193 Georgia Feb 16, 2017 Current
Illinois Pregnancy Help Center Referral Act (SB 1595) SB 1595 Illinois Feb 9, 2017 Proposed
Oklahoma ‘Choosing Childbirth Act’ (HB 1703) HB 1703 Oklahoma Feb 6, 2017 Current
Louisiana Resolution Commending Crisis Pregnancy Centers (HCR 63) HCR 63 Louisiana May 9, 2017 Current
Missouri Bill Regarding Local Abortion Policies (SB 6) SB 6 Missouri Jun 12, 2017 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Regarding Local Abortion Policies (HB 9) HB 9 Missouri Jun 12, 2017 Failed to Pass
Missouri Bill Reauthorizing Tax Credits for CPCs (SB 632) SB 632 Missouri Jan 3, 2018 Proposed
Missouri Bill Extending the Expiration Date of Tax Credits for Donations to CPCs (HB 1288) HB 1288 Missouri Jan 3, 2018 Current
Florida Pregnancy Support and Wellness Bill (SB 444) SB 444 Florida Jan 9, 2018 Proposed
Florida Pregnancy Support and Wellness Services Bill (HB 41) HB 41 Florida Jan 9, 2018 Current
South Dakota Bill Regarding Pre-Abortion Counseling (SB 110) SB 110 South Dakota Jan 22, 2018 Current
Alabama Resolution Recognizing the Contributions of Pregnancy Care Centers (SR 59) SR 59 Alabama Feb 13, 2018 Proposed
Kentucky Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Help Centers (HCR 152) HCR 152 Kentucky Feb 12, 2018 Current
Kentucky Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Help Centers (SCR 154) SCR 154 Kentucky Feb 6, 2018 Current
Minnesota ‘Choose Life’ License Plate Bill (SF 2644) SF 2644 Minnesota Feb 26, 2018 Failed to Pass
Minnesota ‘Choose Life’ License Plates Bill (HF 2998) HF 2998 Minnesota Feb 22, 2018 Failed to Pass
Louisiana Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers (HCR 26) HCR 26 Louisiana Apr 2, 2018 Current
Tennessee Resolution Honoring the TLC Community Center (HJR 1007) HJR 1007 Tennessee Mar 28, 2018 Proposed
Tennessee Resolution Honoring the TLC Community Center (HR 299) HR 299 Tennessee Apr 10, 2018 Current
Missouri Appropriations Bill (HB 2011) HB 2011 Missouri Feb 13, 2018 Proposed