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Mass DPH Launches Education Campaign on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

By Tom Marino | June 11, 2024
Last Updated: June 11, 2024
Massachusetts Department of Public Health educational information on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

BROOKLINE – Governor Maura Healey announced Monday, June 10, that the state launched a public education campaign about anti-abortion centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers. Advertisements began running across the state in both English and Spanish the same day.

Healey’s administration says the campaign is the first of its kind in the country.

According to the state, crisis pregnancy centers often look like medical facilities and often say they offer a full range of reproductive health care. They often mislead patients about their options to divert them from accessing an abortion.

The campaign intends to highlight what the administration called disinformation provided to women seeking reproductive healthcare by these centers.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health designed the campaign with the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation, a nonprofit that educates the public about access to reproductive health care.

“In Massachusetts, we are committed to protecting and expanding access to safe and legal abortion,” said Governor Maura Healey. “That includes protecting patients from the deceptive and dangerous tactics that anti-abortion centers often use to stop people from accessing comprehensive reproductive services.”

Healey said the campaign seeks to provide accurate information to enable residents to make informed decisions about the best care for them.

The campaign will appear on social media, billboards, radio, and in transit ads. The Massachusetts Legislature allocated $1 million in funding for the effort through its FY2023 supplemental budget.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), there are more than double the number of crisis pregnancy centers than comprehensive health clinics.

Crisis pregnancy centers often choose locations near reproductive health clinics. Their websites often appear in searches for abortion services and advertising is targeted to those considering abortion. Websites and advertisements often do not reveal the center does not offer abortions.

Some crisis pregnancy centers have been shown to spread disinformation on abortion.

Many centers do not have a licensed medical professional on-site to provide or oversee care. Most are not bound by federal patient privacy protections.

“Pregnant people who want to understand their options deserve accurate information,” said Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. “I, along with our newly formed Reproductive Justice Unit, look forward to working in partnership with (the administration) to ensure residents have access to reproductive healthcare.”

The DPH issued guidance in January on combating deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers. This included reminding licensed providers and facilities of their obligations to provide patients with “accurate and complete information for informed decision-making, accurate portrayal and advertising of clinical services, and licensees practicing within their scope of practice and their license.”

When the guidance was issued in January, DPH said there were over 30 centers in the state, with only four subject to DPH licensure under state law.

Those who wish to report negative experiences with a crisis pregnancy center can file a civil rights complaint.

Those with concerns with a licensed provider, or an individual who claims to be a licensed provider, should contact the Board of Registration in Medicine.

The Bureau of Health Professions Licensure fields complaints about nurses and other health care professionals.

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