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Bans Off Our Bodies

What's a crisis pregnancy center, or "fake clinic"?

A crisis pregnancy center, or CPC, is also known as a "fake clinic". That's because CPCs aren't accredited clinics. Instead they masquerade as medical facilities to lure pregnant visitors, then harass them with anti-choice disinformation about abortion and birth control.

None of the CPCs in the Central Coast provide medical services. At most, they may offer pregnancy tests or ultrasounds. This is because CPCs are affiliated with religious groups that lobby to restrict birth control and abortion access for women even rape survivors.

If you're an activist doing Community Research into local CPCs – including their disinformation campaigns and links to national extremist groups – our community has all the resources you need to protect your community and fight back.

How can I find legitimate clinics instead of CPCs?

You can ​find accredited clinics by using Trusted Abortion Providers, the most accurate clinic whitelist ever developed for the Central Coast community, by Central Coast activists. You can also avoid CPCs by consulting The CPC Watchlist.

In the past, California required CPCs to state on their websites that they refuse to provide or refer for abortions. In 2018, President Trump's Supreme Court overturned this requirement. That's when we stepped in: to alert activists to CPCs preying on their Central Coast communities.

According to the CPC Watchlist, 12 CPCs operate in the Central Coast. Although they're no longer required to disclose their refusal to refer for abortion, 58% still do on their websites. You can check a CPC's website by doing a Google "site:" search, like this: " refer abortion"

What are signs of a crisis pregnancy center?

While the pro-choice community knows of 12 CPCs operating in the Central Coast, you may have discovered a previously unknown CPC in your own community. Here's a checklist of five red flags you can use to confirm your suspicions...

  • It's in their name: A whopping 83% of the Central Coast's CPCs feature "life" or "pregnancy" in their names, which serve as far-right dog whistles. The other 17% later rebranded under the more generic "Network Medical" and "Ohana Health", to mask their religious links.

  • They exaggerate risks: Abortion is 4 times safer than aspirin, 10 times safer than Viagra, and a staggering 14 times safer than pregnancy! Yet the "abortion education" that CPCs provide fixates on risks that fewer than 2% of patients report experiencing.

  • They attack birth control: None of the 12 CPCs offer birth control. In fact, 25% claim contraception is ineffective and discourage women from using any because almost half of the Central Coast's CPCs are backed by religious groups that claim contraception violates "Biblical principles".

  • No STD testing: STD testing is a basic service even non-reproductive health centers offer, especially since STDs are the second leading cause of stillbirth in pregnancy. Yet 83% of these CPCs refuse to provide basic testing.

  • No medical accreditation: While 33% claim to be licensed as "free clinics", none are accredited as medical facilities, as confirmed via Cal Health Find. Thus, they're not bound by patient privacy laws and can disclose your pregnancy to others without your consent!

What other disinformation do CPCs promote?

Although the above red flags characterize virtually all 12 CPCs in the Central Coast, a significant minority of CPCs demonstrate additional warning signs that are common to CPCs generally. Here are five more red flags you can use to identify a possible CPC...

  • They attack Planned Parenthood: Accredited clinics do not criticize other clinics – in fact, the American College of Physician Ethics forbids it. However, 17% of the Central Coast's CPCs explicitly attack Planned Parenthood and lie about its services.

  • They discriminate by religion: Despite claiming to treat all visitors equally, 42% of these CPCs use "god", "faith" and "Christ" to describe their services. Within this subset, 20% explicitly require volunteers to identify as "Christian" and to oppose abortion "in cases of rape".

  • They espouse "abortion reversal": Since CPCs are non-accredited, they can legally promote pseudoscience – including claims that one can "reverse" abortion. In fact, 25% of the Central Coast's CPCs promote this easily debunked claim via their links to religious groups.

  • They endorse... miscarriage? Shockingly, 33% of the Central Coast's CPCs claim miscarriage is a "natural" alternative to abortion because "one in five pregnancies end[s] in a miscarriage", according to one CPC. This goal is to delay a woman's abortion till her pregnancy is too late-term.

  • They spread mental health myths: Although over 95% of women report positive mental health after an abortion, 42% of the Central Coast's CPCs lie by claiming patients suffer "shame" or "suicide". In reality, women denied abortion are 3 to 4 times more likely to suffer.

How many CPCs are in the Central Coast?

California has a one-to-one ratio of CPCs to real clinics, on average. But in the Central Coast, that ratio is two-to-one. And nationally, the ratio is three-to-one. We won't mince words: The U.S. is awash in anti-choice fraud, especially since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

CPCs have grown at a linear rate. In 2000, the Central Coast was home to one CPC, in Ventura. By 2010, there were six, and by 2020 twelve. These CPCs aren't shy about targeting teens either. According to the CPC Watchlist, each CPC targets an average of 3.3 high schools.

Help us with locating CPCs and warning our Central Coast communities. If you think you've discovered a new CPC, email us at the address below. Remember: Your community can always obtain no- to low-cost care from the Ventura County Health Care Agency and Planned Parenthood.

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