Crisis Pregnancy Centers? More Like Anti-Abortion Extremism Shelters

Thanks to Roxana Bennett for submitting another hard-hitting guest post, which was originally published on Roxanna’s site Choose Your Own Adventure.

The current issue of MS. Magazine, Fall 2010, features an article by journalist Kathryn Joyce titled “The Clinic Across the Street.” One of the most well-researched and insightful articles I have read in a long time, Joyce details links between ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centres’ and known anti-abortion extremists.

A ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centre’ is a delightful misnomer for an anti-abortion ‘clinic’, usually placed next door to, on the same floor as, or as geographically near to as possible, an actual abortion clinic. If a CPC is at ground level, chances are they will be fenced with ‘sidewalk counselors’, people who try their utmost to lure pregnant women away from the abortion clinic to the CPC. In her article, Joyce uncovered the alarming truth that many of these CPCs are used as shelters and storage for people who are known to be violent anti-abortion extremists. The kind of people who shoot doctors who perform abortions and blow up clinics. The kind of people who advocate ‘justifiable homicide‘ and regularly stage clinic blockades.

I had the privilege of speaking with Kathryn Joyce about her article and research. One of the points she makes in her article is that many CPCs falsely advertise their services; thankfully, many states are requiring these clinics to post signs in their offices advertising exactly what they do and do not provide, or face a daily monetary fine.

About the false advertising, Joyce said:

“In the past when I’ve been researching this, a few particular examples of misleading advertising would be CPCs that would use the Planned Parenthood logo as their own, copy it so transparently in an effort to confuse women. I’ve found CPCs that operate in the same building and on the same floor as an abortion provider, obviously they’re hoping to confuse people. It will look like a real medical clinic, they’ll hand you a clipboard to fill out, be very nice, never informing you that they do not provide abortion services. A lot of women go into these centres by accident, or hoping to take advantage of the free services they do provide, like ultrasounds.

These places receive federal and state funding under abstinence only programs, sometimes under different marriage promotion campaigns. They get millions of dollars in federal support. They put out propaganda about links between breast cancer and abortion and other medical misinformation.”

Speaking about the link between CPCs and known anti-abortion extremists, Joyce said:

“CPCs do receive federal funding, they do receive mainstream support, they appear to have an agenda that is ‘woman-friendly,’ providing an alternative to women seeking an abortion. Which is insulting to the intelligence of women, when they’ve already made a choice that is going to be abortion. They do have a lot of ties with extremists, people who have been advocating justifiable homicide, people who have staged and led clinic blockades in different strategic areas like Dr. Carhart’s clinic in Kansas. There are relationships between the CPCs and the extremists who will use the CPC as a staging ground for operations, to just take a break, store materials, do the basic personal things, get back up support for hosting these unrelenting demonstrations and protests outside clinics.

There are a number of very prominent extremists that have this track record of working with CPCs. Cheryl Sullenger, who was convicted of conspiracy to blow up an abortion clinic, started at a CPC. Michael Bray, who wrote a book about justifiable homicide, saying it’s biblically permissible to kill anyone who performs abortions, founded a CPC. Scott Roeder served in an outreach capacity as a sidewalk counselor attempting to divert women to a CPC. There’s a pedigree of people involved in the pro-life movement that started in these places. The research that the Feminist Majority did shows that the if a CPC sets up near an abortion clinic is ups the potential for violence by twenty percent.

Joan Andrews Bell and James Kopp, who run a series of CPCs have been arrested repeatedly. They spur each other on to more violent forms of anti-abortion direct actions and crimes against clinics and providers like the one outside Dr. Carhart’s clinic.

They exist explicitly to provide shelter for sidewalk counselors; people like Norman Weslin, who has been arrested for blockading clinics. The CPC has been set up to shelter criminals, like the place near the Carhart’s clinic, these people store their protest signs there, they go in and out the back door.”

Which came first, the CPC or the terrorist? Joyce believes that they work “hand in hand” and that the mainstream movement “benefits from the extremism.” I think it’s possible that some extremists are groomed while working at a CPC; but the fact that many CPCs are owned, operated, and run by convicted criminals is not just transparent, but seriously alarming.

What struck me while reading Joyce’s article and researching some of the key players in the American anti-abortion arena was the fact that James Kopp is a suspect in three non-fatal shootings of Canadian abortion providers. He crossed the border numerous times and there have been several links made between Kopp and anti-choice groups in Canada. Which begs the question, who’s running the CPCs in Canada? American extremist groups? Who’s funding these organizations? Birthright International claims it has no religious or political funding or affiliation. Where are they getting their money from? It sickens me to think that they would have enough private donors to run an international agency.

Some anti-choice organizations like Birthright International and OptionLine have both American and Canadian branches of CPCs. Some of our Conservative Government seems to have modeled itself after the Bush administration, during which time Joyce says:”We had a lot of attack on contraception, like hormonal or chemical contraceptives the anti-abortion groups call ‘silent abortion;’ at the state level huge numbers of initiatives being proposed, very imaginative, active, mobilized anti-abortion force attacks from all angles.”

Sound familiar, Canuck ladies? Both the Liberal and Conservative governments have tried to introduce over 35 anti-choice bills since 1989, the most recent being Roxanne’s Law, Bill C-510. I’ve already ranted about this bill so I asked Joyce her opinion.

“We’ve seen versions of these tactics here, bills proposed that are completely misleading.

That’s taking something that is an issue that often includes men trying to control womens’ bodies by intimidation or coercion whether it’s stealing their contraception or forcing them to give birth. This is a question of domestic violence, a method of control in pathological relationships. When these things get turned into arguments about abortions a lot of anti-abortion activists argue that most women are forced into having abortions and that men are forcing them. If you talk to protesters outside an abortion clinic they’ll tell you that women are being coerced by their male partners into having abortions or that if men are supportive of their female partners having an abortion then they are not men enough.

The duality and hypocrisy that play on something that everyone knows is absolutely horrible, appalling; that’s about domestic violence.”

In researching Crisis Pregnancy Centres, I’ve found shocking and horrific websites that I’m sure will give me nightmares forevermore. Some of the links above will point to sites that the anti-abortion movement has put up themselves, some will link to pro-choice sites. The lies, hatred, and sickness that I’ve read from the anti-abortion groups have made me physically ill.

The most ridiculous lies I have discovered come from, a site that claims to be “Humbly Helping The Pro-Life Movement Deliver The Truth.” How you can be pro-life and advocate murdering doctors and hating homosexuals seems just a tiny bit hypocritical and fucked up, but if you want to make yourself weep for the future of humanity, dig around this site for a while. Guaranteed to make you ashamed to be a member of the human race.

This fun site,, is full of goodies like scientific studies that seem to be entirely fabricated from fanciful and fucked up imaginations.

This gem,, is chock full of neato stuff like calls for sidewalk counselors, fake photos of aborted embryos, comparisons between Planned Parenthood and the KKK, and a lovely links page that will take you right to:

Human Life International, one of the largest anti-choice organizations in the world with 99 satellite offices in 87 countries.

The mind reels, and then throws up.

For a reality check, go here, here, and here.

Many thanks to Kathryn Joyce, for her research, writing, and determination to tell the truth.


  1. Thank you for such an informative post! This is an issue that is so hidden from the public’s view.

    I am proud to say that here in NYC we have awesome public leaders who are taking this issue up and trying to put an end to this manipulation. I hope that other cities will follow suit. It is wrong to lead women to believe that a center offers health services when they don’t.

    BTW, has anyone seen The L Word episode where Kit goes to a “clinic” only to find out it is one of these centers? It is hilarious. Season three :)

  2. freewomyn says:

    Thanks for the strong article, Roxana. I didn’t realize there was a connection between clinic violence in the US and Canada, although I’m not surprise. Andrea’s article last week about the anti-choice movements influence in the UK showed strong connections there, too.

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