PRCH Consulting Medical Director Anne Davis, MD, MPH, on Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York City
Author: PRCH Consulting Medical Director Anne Davis, MD, MPH
Testimony of Anne R. Davis, MD, MPH Medical Director Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health Before the New York City Council, Committee on Women’s Issues November 16, 2010 As an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Manhattan, I wholeheartedly support our city council’s efforts to improve the care of pregnant women in New York City. This bill will protect my patients from being misled by limited-service pregnancy centers masquerading as legitimate health clinics. I have direct experience with patients who have visited so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). The “care” they provide has been uniformly harmful to my patients and their families. By offering pregnant women misinformation in the guise of medical fact, CPCs have kept my patients away from the services they need, whether it is sound prenatal care or a safe abortion.
Crisis pregnancy centers claim to give “unbiased, accurate information about the procedure to women considering it.”1 That is not what my patient Susan2 received. She went to a CPC in downtown Manhattan early in her second trimester, thinking that she could obtain an abortion there. The staff told Susan that she needed an ultrasound before the procedure. Then another ultrasound. They attributed the multiple tests to uncertainty about how advanced her pregnancy was. Because of these delays, Susan’s pregnancy progressed into the third trimester. Susan was 32 weeks pregnant and still seeking an abortion when she consulted me at our hospital-based clinic. I had to tell her it was no longer possible: she was well beyond the legal limit for abortion in New York. Susan was shocked, as the “counselor” at the CPC had assured her she could have an abortion in the third trimester. Moreover, when I examined Susan, I found her case straightforward—one simple abdominal ultrasound would have dated her pregnancy easily. The CPC had no medical reason for keeping her waiting. Susan was devastated and furious. Her pregnancy was unplanned, and she had used drugs and alcohol through both trimesters. Her partner had no interest in parenting. Susan’s third child, whom she brought with her to our clinic, has a severe form of autism and was starting to receive city services.
NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “She Said Abortion Causes Breast Cancer:” A Report on the Lies, Manipulations and Privacy Violations at Crisis Pregnancy Centers. October 2010. http://www.prochoiceny.org/assets/files/cpcreport2010.pdf 2 Patient’s name has been changed.
Not only did the CPC’s lies prevent Susan from getting an abortion, they also nearly eliminated her chances for prenatal care—I gave her a referral, but there was a delay before she could get an appointment. I imagine she had only one or two prenatal visits before delivering. We talked about adoption; Susan was considering that possibility but guessed that no one would want to adopt her baby given all the drugs and alcohol she had used. While this story sounds extreme, it is not uncommon. I don’t know precisely how many patients I’ve seen who had a similar experience before coming to me—most don’t talk about it. I do know that no woman deserves to be misled as Susan was. Pregnant women in New York City deserve to know what to expect from a CPC before entering, not when they find their physical and emotional health at risk. No clinic or counselor should be allowed to trick women about the medical care they will receive. I urge the City Council to pass this important bill and preserve the health and safety of New York’s women.
Published under a Creative Commons License By attribution, non-commercial
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