Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul applauded the Senate’s passage of his legislation to hold crisis pregnancy centers that engage in deceptive practices accountable.
Illinois law establishes the fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health. There have been reports in Illinois and nationwide of limited services pregnancy centers, often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers,” using deceptive and misleading practices to spread false information and interfere with patients’ timely access to the full range of reproductive care.
“I experienced deceptive crisis pregnancy center tactics firsthand on a visit to a Planned Parenthood health center in Illinois. People who appeared as though they might work there were outside attempting to divert us away from the health center,” Raoul said. “Patients report going to crisis pregnancy centers – sometimes even receiving exams and ultrasounds – thinking they were visiting a different clinic that offers the full range of reproductive care. This is an extreme violation of trust and patient privacy that should not occur in our state. I would like to thank members of the Senate for passing legislation to help my office hold those engaging in deceptive practices accountable.”
Senate Bill 1909, sponsored by Sen. Celina Villanueva, was approved by the Senate and will now be considered by the House.
“There is a war on people’s ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health care,” said Sen. Villanueva. “Workers at crisis pregnancy centers should not be able to deceptively mislead women into making decisions that aren’t the best for them or their futures. When you go to the doctor and someone appears to be medical staff, you trust they are medical staff. You trust your ability to make autonomous, informed, evidence-based decisions. Reproductive health care should be no different.”
The mission of most crisis pregnancy centers is to convince pregnant people to carry to term and not have an abortion. While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise their services generally to pregnant people, many of these centers offer very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling against abortion. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.
Some are located near clinics that do provide comprehensive reproductive care and use names similar to clinics to misdirect patients from the full range of information and care that it is their right to access. Crisis pregnancy centers do not provide abortions or referrals for abortions. Many do not provide contraceptives or comprehensive prenatal care. They often do not have any medical professionals on site, and they do not necessarily disclose any of these limitations in their online or in-person materials. They also may not keep medical records and personal information private and confidential.
In addition to initiating SB 1909, Attorney General Raoul offered recommendations to patients seeking reproductive care to ensure they can access the full range of health services. Patients should check to be certain that they are entering the correct facility because crisis pregnancy centers may be located near abortion clinics and use similar names to divert women away from abortion providers. They should also make sure the facility they plan to visit offers the full range of reproductive care options if that is what they seek.