In an undercover investigation conducted by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, counselors at crisis pregnancy centers in Virginia were recorded giving women medically suspect information regarding abortions, birth control, and condoms.
In one conversation, a counselor in Manassas was recorded telling a woman who claimed to possibly be pregnant that condoms don’t prevent STD’s or pregnancy, as they are “naturally porous.” Birth control, the counselor said, frequently causes hair loss, memory loss, headaches, weight gain, fatal blood clots, and cancer.
“The first thee ingredients in the birth control pill are carcinogens,” the CPC counselor said, continuing that she always tries to convince women not to take it. “Safe sex is a joke,” she said. “There’s no such thing.”
In another recording, a counselor discouraged a woman from obtaining a medical abortion, saying that they’re “nasty in my mind,” and that “pieces of the dead baby” can remain in the uterus and cause infection “like a sliver.”
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The recordings were released by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia on Wednesday as part of the group’s undercover investigation into Virginia’s 58 state-funded CPC’s. Part of a nationwide network of approximately 2,500 Christian centers, the clinics advertise health and pregnancy services but do not provide contraception, prenatal care, or abortions. The clinics in Virginia are funded by the sale of “Choose Life” license plates at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles—a move that was sponsored by Ken Cuccinelli, who was then in the Virginia state senate.
The report released by NARAL stated that 71 percent of Virginia’s CPC’s provide medically inaccurate information regarding adverse health consequences and effectiveness of birth control, condoms, and abortion. Forty of the CPC’s told women that abortion leads to long-term psychological damage, development of eating disorders, and drug addictions. In one exchange, a CPC counselor allegedly said that for women of certain blood types, abortions could cause their bodies create antibodies that would attack fetuses in future pregnancies.
Dolores Wisecarver, Director of A Women’s Choice, a CPC in Falls Church, disputed NARAL’s findings, saying that staff at the CPC are quick to explain that they are not medical professionals and often direct women to make appointments with doctors, sometimes even paying for them.
“We do promote chastity in women that are not married, and natural family planning,” said Wisecarver. “We feel that a woman’s fertility is a normal thing—you have to take meds when you’re sick, not when you’re healthy, and all medication has side effects. I took birth control for years and didn’t know how sick it was making me until I stopped.”
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But Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, disagrees.
“This shocking audio exposes Virginia’s CPC’s for what they are: anti-choice field offices designed to mislead, shame, and lie to women during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives,” she said, adding that “regardless of your stance on abortion, we can all agree that anyone seeking health care services and advice should receive comprehensive, non-judgmental, and factually accurate information.”