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Pro-Choice Groups Continue Call for Oversight of "Fake Clinics"

A new law requires the Florida Department of Health to contract with a not-for-profit statewide alliance of organizations to provide pregnancy support and wellness services that are non-coercive and exclude religious content. (Pixabay)
A new law requires the Florida Department of Health to contract with a not-for-profit statewide alliance of organizations to provide pregnancy support and wellness services that are non-coercive and exclude religious content. (Pixabay)
September 10, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's abortion battle continues with pro-choice groups calling for the aggressive regulation of so-called crisis pregnancy centers.

A new state law provides taxpayer dollars to the nearly 200 faith-based organizations that purport to offer counseling to pregnant women. But some advocates for women's health claim the centers are "fake clinics." The centers are part of the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, which has received $21 million in state funding since 2007 - including $4 million in the current budget.

Amy Weintraub is reproductive-rights program director for the group Progress Florida. She said she wants the state department of health to regulate the centers because she believes they are misleading women.

"They are anti-abortion, and they provide biased information to try to persuade women out of accessing abortion care,” Weintraub said. “Almost none of them provide any medical care aside from an ultrasound."

Conservatives support the centers as a counterbalance to what they see as a proliferation of abortion clinic doctors. The National Women's Liberation group is planning a "Fake Clinic Picket" in Tallahassee for Thursday, September 27, in conjunction with other rallies and protests around the state.

The law requires the pregnancy centers to provide information in a "non-coercive manner," not include religious content and provide research references if they give women any medical information. However, Weintraub said, after hearing the accounts of numerous women who say they were misled, her group delivered thousands of petitions to Gov. Rick Scott's office demanding more oversight.

"We are hoping that this will be a wake-up call to them that there are people and organizations watching them and imploring them to do what is in the best interest of the health of Florida women and girls,” she said.

According to the Department of Health, the centers are allowed to "provide information on alternatives to abortion, education and training, adoption information, counseling, and medical resource referrals." According to reporting from The Florida Phoenix, some centers are audited quarterly and annually.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL