According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, a local news source in Fairbanks, Alaska, Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Tanana Valley will soon be changing its name.
It's not all that uncommon for CPCs to change their names and even locations, especially once they start getting a bad rap for, well, what CPCs generally get bad raps for: false advertising, deceptive tactics, and biased information. But this particular name change has me even more concerned than usual: the CPC's new name will be "Fyndout Free Clinic."
Clinic? Clinics are places that staff doctors, nurses, and most importantly, carry a license to operate a medical facility. From what we can tell from the article, not to mention our general understanding of CareNet's centers, this place offers nothing more than pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. Did I mention one does not have to be a doctor to operate an ultrasound machine? If any medical personnel are on staff at "Fyndout" at all, the article fails to mention them; the CEO is simply referred to as "Nancy Bienvenue," a woman who claims that a 7-8 week gestation fetus "can be seen turning with arms waving and legs kicking" via ultrasound.
"I suppose," says CPC Watch fundraising and outreach coordinator Becca James, who recalls her first (8 week) ultrasound vividly. "Some movement for sure, but arms and legs? I knew they were there. The doctor told me they were, but she also said they were almost impossible to see so early. I mean what is it at that point? 2 inches or less? I wouldn't say you can see the movement."
But whether or not the microscopic limbs can be seen moving is hardly the point. The point is, this is a place that is claiming to be a medical facility, and yet the CEO (not identified as a medical professional) pre-frames women's conceptions of what they see in their ultrasound by using terminology generally reserved for live humans: a woman who contacted me about her experience at this particular CPC says the staffer told her the fetus was "waving at her" and trying to say she didn't want her "mommy" to "kill her/him."
A quick look at the center's website reveals much of the usual misinformation found in the majority of crisis pregnancy centers. On the subject of an abortion-breast cancer link, this particular CPC published a statement from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services. Who needs to make their own lies when a government statement is in and of itself inconsistent with the most current research, even going so far as to skew the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' statement. While ACOG has stated (rather confidently) that there is no evidence to support a link between abortion and breast cancer, the alleged HHS statement published at Fyndout's website adds that element of uncertainty:
[ACOG's] findings indicate that early studies of the relationship between prior abortion and breast cancer risk have been inconsistent and are difficult to interpret because of technical considerations. They find that recent studies argue against a causal relationship between abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk. There are other opinions more supportive of the suggested relationship between breast cancer and abortion. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) supports that point of view.Unfortunately for Fyndout, I found no such statement on the Alaska HHS Department's website, even in the public notice cited in Fyndout's page on abortion risks, though this statement could have been one of the things changed after the public comment period in the days after the "informed consent" notice went live. What I did find regarding the purported link between abortion and breast cancer unanimously declared "no casual link between induced abortion and breast cancer," with the single exception of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (big surprise). Also important to mention here is the fact that these statements issued by the Alaska HHS are the result of SB 30, a politically-driven bill passed in 2005 that, according to pro-choice groups, places undue obstacles to abortion access in the state.
Regardless of whether or not the Fyndout Free "Clinic" is giving out accurate information regarding breast cancer risks, one thing is for sure: they are using the same tactics in manipulating women's decisions and skewing their outlook on reproductive options that we see time and time again at crisis pregnancy centers. Follow-up comments below the Daily News-Miner article reveal women speaking out against this CPC and its tactics:
I went to the "Pregnancy Crisis Center", they told me I wasn't pregnant, when I was. While waiting for the test to come back they had me watch a horror movie "This is abortion" or something like that, showing full term babies all cut up in the trash ..., wouldn't let my boyfriend come in to watch with me. Then they had him join me to lecture us on how important it was to be married over anything else. If I hadn't already been throwing up daily, that would have done it for me.
Another woman reported she received the same delay tactic from that center. The woman who contacted me regarding her experience at Fyndout (then CareNet Pregnancy Center) gave a similar account, except she was told point blank that having an abortion would increase her risk of developing breast cancer "tenfold." She was also told that the dilators used in an abortion procedure "ruptured membranes in the cervix making it unlikely [she] would be able to carry to term later on." Neither of these statements are founded in any medical research to date.
That crisis pregnancy centers are able to call themselves "medical clinics" when all they offer is pregnancy tests and ultrasounds is beyond me, and it's not just the Fyndout center that's getting away with it. Options Medical Clinic in Gaffney, SC offers pregnancy tests and what the website calls "limited ultrasounds," as well as a wealth of false and medically inaccurate information. Same with the ACPC Women's Clinic in Pueblo, CO. And yet using the term "clinic" is somehow legal, as is allowing untrained personnel to operate ultrasound machines for non-medical purposes despite repeat warnings from ACOG and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Perhaps Congress should revisit the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act?