A North Carolina abortion rights group revealed Monday that most "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPC) in the state were misleading women about their health care options.
A NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation (NPCNCF) report (PDF) found that more than two-thirds of CPCs provided medically inaccurate information.
The centers have been in operation for years, but have recently gotten more attention after the Republican-controlled state Legislature decided to provide them public funding with proceeds from a new "Choose Life" license plate. At present, there are eight times more CPCs in North Carolina than abortion clinics.
In all, 92 percent of the 122 identified centers had no medical professionals on staff, and the state provides no mechanism for regulating them. Only 22 percent disclosed that they were not medically licensed.
Because the centers are not medically licensed, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not protect patient confidentiality.
In one of the more disturbing anecdotes from the report, an investigator posing as a pregnant Jewish woman was told by five centers that she would not go to heaven unless she converted to Christianity. At one meeting, volunteers prayed for an investigator and recommended she become a "born-again virgin."
"Our investigation of CPCs in North Carolina makes clear that our state's leaders cannot ignore how these centers intentionally mislead and misinform women, including those facing unintended pregnancies," NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina executive director Carey Pope said in a statement.
"We have no objection to a center that offers women who have decided to carry a pregnancy to term any help they like," she later told The Charlotte Observer. "But lines are crossed when the center is not up-front about its limited services or uses misinformation or intimidation or coercion."
Planned Parenthood affiliates and physicians who provide abortions had already sued to block new abortion restrictions that will go into effect Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also suing to force the state to create license plates for supporters of abortion rights.