Abortion rights are still protected in California, but access to crucial information about pregnancy options is not.

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It finally happened.

On Friday morning, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and life is changed for millions. The constitutional right to abortion is no longer guaranteed nationwide. Americans in more than half of the states could have their access banned or severely restricted. In the 13 states with trigger bans, it will happen within hours or days.

The truth is, abortion isn’t going to be curtailed in California anytime soon. In 2022, lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills to strengthen and expand reproductive rights.

A proposed amendment to the state constitution enshrining the right to contraception and abortion was approved by the Senate this week and could appear in the November ballot. In March, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law prohibiting insurers from charging out-of-pocket costs for abortion services.

Other bills would provide funds to improve inequitable access and protect out-of-state patients seeking legal abortions (and the medical providers who perform them).

But living in a state where protections come first does not mean that seeking reproductive care is easy or clear or an equal experience for everyone, especially when it comes to abortion.

To weigh such an important decision, it could not be more crucial to have correct and complete information about the options, the process, the consequences.

That’s not always the case for women who visit crisis pregnancy centers — free or low-cost facilities that offer reproductive and prenatal care but ultimately aim to steer people away from abortion.

As abortion clinics have declined, religious and anti-abortion groups have spearheaded a massive nationwide expansion of these organizations, also known as pregnancy care centers or resource centers.

Not all crisis pregnancy centers can be painted with the same brush. Some provide (limited) free care, including pregnancy tests and material support, such as diapers and formula, which may otherwise be out of reach.

But the data clearly shows that these centers frequently provide misleading and incomplete information to patients who often find themselves in dire straits.

A recent study by The Alliance, a national coalition of gender-focused legal and policy groups, found that 66% of California’s crisis pregnancy centers “make false or biased medical claims, particularly regarding pregnancy and pregnancy. ‘abortion”.

Common misleading claims include promoting unproven links between abortion and everything from premature birth, infertility and breast cancer to “increased promiscuity.”

Another report by the national, pro-choice nonprofit organization NARAL Pro-Choice America — formerly known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws — found that a majority of crisis pregnancy centers in California in a survey touted unproven links between abortions and an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and mental health problems.

The record of these centers pressuring or shaming pregnant women to parent or adopt is well documented.

The website of a nationwide network of crisis pregnancy centers ominously tells visitors, “What abortion clinics don’t tell you is that they profit from your decision.”

And, by the way, “you may not need an abortion,” the organization claims, since one in four pregnancies will “NATURALLY” end in miscarriage.

Yet the NARAL study found that 70% of institutions said they provided unbiased advice, and only 20% clearly identified themselves as anti-choice organizations.

At the same time, these centers often position themselves as reproductive health clinics, even settling near health facilities offering abortion services. It can be misleading.

According to the Alliance’s analysis, only 10% of California’s crisis pregnancy centers provide prenatal or preventative health care, and only 30% had services related to sexually transmitted infections. (Only one center provided contraceptive care.)

In fact, only a quarter have a doctor and a third have a registered nurse associated with their staff.

And, while crisis pregnancy centers have more and more ultrasound services, these are usually non-diagnostic or “memory” ultrasounds, which provide little information about the health of a fetus and are considered an “unapproved use of a medical device” by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, and Food and Drug Administration.

I only had to browse the websites of several of these centers located in and around Sonoma County to see this for myself.

A center which promised ‘unbiased information’, focused on the negative effects of emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill) and warned that ‘many women who have taken the abortion pill experience regret’.

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