If the battle over abortion rights is one of the key issues of the 2024 election — and it is — then the fight to contain crisis pregnancy centers is its second front.

Abortion rights advocates say the facilities, which they describe as “anti-abortion centers,” use mountains of misinformation to terrify and intimidate the most desperate of women into not going through with the procedure.

“These are con artists posing as health care professionals,” U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-5th District, said. “They are knowingly ... misleading patients for the sake of their ideology.”

There are more than 30 such centers in Massachusetts. In some parts of the state, they outnumber health centers or hospitals that provide abortion care, according to a tally by Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Of those, only four are licensed by the state Department of Public Health, the same data show.

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court toppled Roe v. Wade, and with control of the White House and Capitol Hill on the line, Democrats are using every arrow in their collective quiver to drive home the message that reproductive rights are under siege.

The issue is particularly critical among younger voters who played a key role in President Biden’s election in 2020 and who helped Democrats roll back an expected Republican wave in 2022.

Reproductive rights ranked second only to the economy in a Harvard University poll of young voters released earlier this spring.

On Monday, Bay State advocates brought the fight to those anti-abortion centers, unveiling a new, publicly funded advertising campaign aimed at educating residents on the public health threat that they pose to the most vulnerable of populations.

The new effort “counter-punches to the vast amount of misinformation and disinformation that the centers peddle every day, deceiving people who may be frightened or confused as they find themselves at a crossroads,” state Public Health Commissioner Robbie Goldstein said at a news conference outside a women’s health clinic in Brookline.

“These individuals have an important decision to make,” he said. “It’s a choice. They are, or they may be, pregnant. They are seeking care, support, information, options, and, most importantly, the truth.”

The crisis facilities, these same advocates argue, cloak themselves in clinical language, employ white-coated staff who are not licensed professionals, and even use manipulated ultrasounds to scare women into not getting abortions.

Often, they are right across the street from legitimate women’s health care centers, all to further obfuscate their true mission: Aiding in the Republican-backed effort to end access to abortion nationwide.

“This is happening every day across the country, including right here in Massachusetts,” Clark, the No. 2 Democrat in the House said during Monday’s news conference. “Bay Staters deserve to know how to spot these fake clinics and to advocate for themselves.”

“Nearly two years ago this June we saw the Supreme Court roll back a fundamental individual freedom and [overturn] Roe v. Wade,” U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-4th District, said. “The right for a woman to access safe and effective abortion care is vital to public health and women’s empowerment.”

Since the high court’s ruling, 21 states have moved to ban or restrict access to the procedure, according to a New York Times tracker.

Abortion remains safe and legal in Massachusetts, though advocates warned Monday that might not always be the case if opponents successfully push through a nationwide ban.

“Anti-abortion centers are the foot soldiers of the anti-abortion movement,” Rebecca Hart Holder of the advocacy group Reproductive Equity Now, said. “These facilities are how anti-abortion extremists operate in protected states like ours.”

For now, reproductive rights advocates have public opinion on their side.

More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) to a CommonWealth Beacon/WGBH poll released in April said they believed the high court made the wrong decision when it toppled Roe v. Wade, returning the issue to the states.

The poll also underlined the personal nature of the debate, with more than half of respondents (51%) saying they had known someone who had an abortion.

Advocates, across events in recent weeks, have sought to underline those very personal stakes.

And with the nation’s high court set to decide other abortion-related cases before its current term ends, those personal stakes will only deepen.

“Everyone should care about this issue … you never know what your reproductive journey will be,” state Attorney General Andrea J. Campbell said during a public hearing in Boston last month.

But those journeys require accurate maps. The campaign unveiled Monday could end up being a vital first step for many.


Original story HERE.