Fake Clinics Work Group

“Florida women describe being harassed, bullied, and given blatantly false information at fake clinics. These fake clinics undermine the trust at the foundation of the patient-provider relationship by posing as health care providers and peddling inaccurate medical information.” – Dr. Nicole Fanarjian, OB/GYN

Fake clinics dramatically outnumber actual women’s health care providers. Click for larger view.

Warning: Fake Clinics Harm Florida Women

Fake clinics are anti-abortion, usually religiously-affiliated organizations that call themselves “crisis pregnancy centers” and are often members of the Florida Pregnancy Support Services network.

Fake clinics exist to talk women out of abortions. Fueled by a staunch anti-abortion agenda, they use free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds for persuasion instead of medical diagnosis.  Numbering nearly 200 in Florida alone, fake clinics have become the local organizing force for the anti-abortion movement.

Fake clinics purport to offer pregnancy-related health care and medical services, but fail to provide comprehensive, evidence-based medical care. Using lies and manipulative practices, they work to shame women out of getting reproductive care – particularly birth control and abortion:

  • You won’t get abortion help or even birth control at a fake clinic.
  • Deceptive advertising is their M.O. as they adopt names that sound like actual reproductive health centers.
  • They intentionally locate on the same block, sometimes even in the same building, as actual abortion providers.
  • They place deceptive ads under internet searches for “abortion.”
  • They lie about risks associated with the abortion procedure, linking abortion to increased risk of infertility and breast cancer.
  • Their staff and volunteers may pose as medical professionals wearing scrubs or white coats.
  • They often schedule appointments as far out as possible because they know timing is critical with any pregnancy. Women who wait may face costs that are prohibitive or be too far along to get an abortion.

Tricking, shaming, and scaring potentially pregnant women is unjust. Floridians deserve timely access and a full range of care options, not medically inaccurate information pushed on them by fake clinics.

Extremists in the Florida Legislature have repeatedly attacked women’s health care, in particular targeting access to safe and legal abortion. One avenue of attack has been legitimizing fake clinics through putting their network under contract with the Florida Dept. of Health (DOH) umbrella and funding them with a $4 Million per year contract to provide “wellness services.”  Despite the proven public health need for women to be able to access the full range of timely and affordable reproductive health care services, our State government is funding fake clinics that do the exact opposite.

We’re fighting back.

TV news coverage of the petition delivery at the State Capitol

Speaking truth to power. The Floridians for Reproductive Freedom (FRF) Fake Clinics Work Group is demanding that the DOH holds fake clinics accountable and work to expose fake clinics in our own communities.  In July, we delivered a petition signed by more than 5,500 Floridians demanding more DOH oversight of the fake clinic network and their local operations.

Acting locally.  Members of our work group regularly host visibility events in front of fake clinics to raise awareness of their operations and the fact that they are not bonafide women’s health centers.  The next event, sponsored by Progress Florida, Pinellas National Organization for Women, and the St. Pete League of Women Voters’ Reproductive Rights Action Team in on Saturday, December 1 at 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM. The Pinellas County,  location will be disclosed to registrants via email upon registration.  RSVP or check out the Facebook event page.

Posting warnings online.  The FRF Fake Clinics Work Group, in partnership with national partner, ExposeFakeClinics.com, encourages Florida reproductive rights advocates to leave reviews for fake clinics on Google Maps, Yelp, and other review sites that inform those searching for abortion care or other sexual health services that this particular operation is not a comprehensive women’s health care provider.  Honest reviews that provide evidence gleaned from the fake clinic’s own website or from phone calls or visits, that clarify the services of the operation for unfamiliar potential patients is the goal.

Reaching out to candidates. Members work to get fake clinic-related questions to organizers of an upcoming candidate forums or candidate questionnaires. This works to inform elected officials and the general public of fake clinics’ existence in Florida communities.

Getting fake clinics out of public schools. School boards in Florida are allowing fake clinic staff onto approved guest speaker lists for teachers to invite into their classrooms to cover topics around sexual health.  Some counties are even contracting with fake clinics to provide sexual health education. Our work group is studying this issue as we develop strategy.

Get involved.

Whether you are interested in working for policy change at the State level or in exposing a fake clinic in your own town, the FRF Fake Clinic Work Group welcomes your involvement.  For more information, contact Amy Weintraub, work group chair .