Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Launches First-in-the-Nation Public Education Campaign on the Dangers of Anti-Abortion Centers

Campaign ads warn of disinformation spread by so-called "crisis pregnancy centers” throughout Massachusetts
For immediate release:
6/10/2024
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Public Health

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Launches First-in-the-Nation Public Education Campaign on the Dangers of Anti-Abortion Centers

Sophie Hamlin, Communications Manager

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh speaks at press conference

BROOKLINE — The Healey-Driscoll Administration today launched a first-in-the-nation public education campaign highlighting the dangers and potential harm of anti-abortion centers, also called “crisis pregnancy centers.” Anti-abortion centers often look like medical facilities and purport to offer the full spectrum of reproductive health care while, in reality, they often mislead people about their options if they are pregnant and dissuade them from accessing abortions.  

The campaign ads, which began running June 10 across Massachusetts in both English and Spanish, amplify how anti-abortion centers provide misinformation about abortion services to prevent people from making an informed choice about their care. The campaign is designed to help people understand their full range of options, directing them to mass.gov/GetTrustedCare with information about how to recognize anti-abortion centers and where to access unbiased, full-spectrum reproductive health care in Massachusetts.  

“In Massachusetts, we are committed to protecting and expanding access to safe and legal abortion,” said Governor Maura Healey. “That includes protecting patients from the deceptive and dangerous tactics that anti-abortion centers often use to stop people from accessing comprehensive reproductive services. This campaign is an important way to provide accurate information so residents can make informed decisions about reproductive care that are right for them.” 

“The troubling practices of anti-abortion centers serve to undermine the trust that people should have in our health care system,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “Education and accurate information can help counter the misinformation and unethical tactics these centers use to prey on people at a particularly vulnerable time.”  

This public education campaign, which will appear on social media platforms, billboards, radio, and transit, was funded through a $1 million investment that the Massachusetts legislature passed as part of its FY2023 supplemental budget. The campaign was created by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in collaboration with the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation, a nonprofit focused on educating the public about equitable access to reproductive health care. 

Visit the campaign’s digital toolkit to view shareable ads, including a :15 and :30 second video spot. 

In Massachusetts, anti-abortion centers outnumber comprehensive reproductive health clinics by more than two to one. Anti-abortion centers use deceptive practices to attract patients: they may be located near reproductive health clinics; they create websites that appear in online searches for abortion clinics; and they advertise online and in print media in ways that aim to appeal to those who are considering abortion. Anti-abortion centers often spread disinformation about abortion care and fail to counsel patients about all their options, delaying or dissuading people from accessing abortion. 

Many anti-abortion centers do not have licensed medical professionals on-site to deliver services, oversee care, or provide information and answers to clients. In addition, most facilities are not bound by federal patient privacy protections, which could leave patients vulnerable to the distribution of their personal health data. 

“Pregnant people who want to understand their options deserve accurate information,” said Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. “We applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration and DPH for helping to ensure that patients can protect themselves from anti-abortion centers’ deceptive efforts, and I along with our newly-formed Reproductive Justice Unit look forward to working in partnership with them to ensure residents have access to reproductive healthcare.” 

“Anti-abortion centers exist to block access to full service, evidence-based, high-quality care offered by licensed providers. That is unacceptable,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh. “The marketing campaign is designed to protect people, by urging them to seek safe and unbiased reproductive health care from caregivers who can provide the right care — the best care — free from coercion or misinformation.”     

“Every day, individuals in the Commonwealth walk into anti-abortion centers unaware that these facilities are masquerading as comprehensive medical providers and pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of those seeking help, support, and options,” said Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “As a physician, I find this kind of deception and misrepresentation unconscionable, and as Commissioner, I feel compelled to push back as hard as possible against these shameful practices and blatant misinformation.”  

“Information is power, and today, Massachusetts is putting power in the hands of our communities by alerting them to the dangers of deceptive anti-abortion centers,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, President of the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation. “We’re so proud that the Healey-Driscoll Administration is addressing this public health threat head-on, and we have been honored to work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on the creation of this first-in-the-nation public education campaign. Together, we can combat anti-abortion centers’ predatory practices and ensure every person in Massachusetts has access to the health care they want and need, without deception or delay.” 

In January, DPH issued guidance to combat anti-abortion centers’ deceptive practices. The Department sent a memo reminding licensed providers, clinics, and hospitals of their obligations under state law and as a condition of licensure. These obligations include “providing patients accurate and complete information for informed decision-making, accurate portrayal and advertising of clinical services, and licensees practicing within their scope of practice and their license.” 

Individuals who have had a negative experience with an anti-abortion center can file a Civil Rights Complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Those who have concerns about staff who are – or who claim to be – licensed providers can file complaints with the Board of Registration in Medicine for physician concerns or the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure for concerns related to nurses, physician assistants, or other health care professionals. Patients may also reach out to Abortion Legal Hotline, a free and confidential resource, created by the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Women’s Bar Foundation, and the ACLU of Massachusetts to connect people with pro bono legal advice about their rights to access abortion care. 

The Reproductive Equity Now Foundation provides a Massachusetts Abortion Care Guide that offers information about safe, trusted abortion care in the state. In addition, learn about abortion protections at mass.gov/AbortionAccess

Statements of Support

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)

“In the wake of the Dobbs decision that stripped Americans of their constitutional right to abortion, it is more important than ever that pregnant people are aware of the dangers of anti-abortion centers that mislead and misinform patients, collect and share their most sensitive health data, and dissuade them from making the medical decisions that are right for them. I am proud that Massachusetts is leading the nation in ensuring pregnant people and their families have access to medically accurate information and comprehensive reproductive health care.”

Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-5) 

"Right-wing extremists use anti-abortion centers to lure in women, spread disinformation, and withhold critical health care. It's all part of the same plot to undermine reproductive freedom in America and advance an ideology of control. People deserve to know the truth about these fake clinics, and I'm grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for leading the way. Together, we will stop MAGA Republicans' anti-freedom agenda and protect every Bay Stater's right to make their own health care decisions."

Congressman Jake Auchincloss (MA-4)

“Reproductive freedom is under attack in 2024. The deceptive tactics used by these anti-abortion centers are another front in that fight. These clinics present a public health risk. Women have a right to make healthcare decisions with objective information, free from an agenda.” 

Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3)

“Massachusetts has been a national leader in the fight to protect women’s reproductive rights, and today’s announcement by Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, and Secretary Walsh is proof that we will continue to stand up for women’s freedom to make their own health care decisions. We will never stand by while extreme anti-abortion centers and politicians undermine the health and safety of women and families.”

 House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy)

“The Legislature is proud to have acted to codify and expand access to women’s reproductive health care in recent years, including allocating money for this important awareness campaign. At a time when other states continue to restrict access to abortion, I thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their efforts in creating this campaign, and for protecting a woman’s right to choose.”

Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland)

“In Massachusetts we stand firmly for reproductive rights, which includes the right to truthful information when seeking reproductive healthcare. The Senate was proud to invest $1 million into this initiative to proactively support individuals who are seeking an abortion with getting the honest and fact-based healthcare they deserve. I’m grateful for the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s work to roll this out and I look forward to seeing the campaign get started.” 

Sheila Ramirez, Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts

"We are grateful to Governor Healey, Secretary Walsh, and Commissioner Goldstein for championing this effort to get patients the information they need to make safe and informed decisions about their reproductive health. This public awareness campaign is important to get people full and accurate information about their reproductive health care options, and to disrupt the lies and harm perpetuated by anti-abortion centers. Too often our providers at PPLM see patients who mistakenly went to a nearby crisis pregnancy center and report being put through counseling they didn’t want, have received inaccurate ultrasound readings, and been given false and fearmongering information about abortion. It’s disorienting and terrifying for patients realizing they’ve been lied to, and it makes it harder on health care providers to build trust with patients in the care they provide and in the health system as a whole."

Julia Kehoe, President and CEO, Health Imperatives

“We are grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration and Reproductive Equity Now for their unwavering commitment to protecting the rights, health, and economic security of women and girls in Massachusetts. Health Imperatives’ comprehensive services are available to anyone regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, but all too often patients come to us in crisis after getting misleading or incorrect information from a ‘crisis pregnancy center.’ This first in the nation campaign will ensure that people know where to get the health care they need and deserve.”

Kristie Monast, President and CEO, HealthQ

“HealthQ is grateful to Governor Healey, Secretary Walsh, Commissioner Goldstein, and Reproductive Equity Now for their commitment and efforts to ensure every person seeking an abortion in Massachusetts is able to find the care they want and holding anti-abortion centers accountable for their deceptive practices. Anti-abortion centers are trust eroders in the health care system. At HealthQ we spend a lot of time correcting misinformation that patients who've been seen at anti abortion centers come in with and explaining why there is a discrepancy. These patients have had their trust in the healthcare system strongly disturbed and it's very hard for them to understand and rebuild it. There is no place for facilities whose goal is to mislead patients in healthcare. Earning trust from patients is a privilege. At HealthQ we value that opportunity, treasure the experience and are grateful to our patients and community who give it.”

Fredie Kay, Founder and President, Massachusetts Women’s History Center

“We are locked in a battle against misleading marketing and misinformation. These pregnancy centers have hidden agendas and prioritize their objectives over the wishes of unsuspecting and potentially vulnerable pregnant people. The Massachusetts Women’s History Center thanks Governor Maura Healey, Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, Secretary Kate Walsh and Commissioner Robbie Goldstein for calling out these organizations and spreading the word that such centers exist - in Massachusetts and throughout the country. The Massachusetts Women’s History Center is honored to stand with the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and is grateful to have a Governor who understands the importance of increasing awareness of their existence so that pregnant people are not taken advantage of for the sake of someone else’s agenda.”

Yuki Davis, Executive Director, Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund

"Anti-Abortion Centers, or Crisis Pregnancy Centers, can be detrimental to abortion seekers across the country trying to access safe, legal abortion care. At the EMA fund, we are committed to reducing social and economic barriers to abortion care and bodily autonomy, and to make abortion accessible to anyone who needs one." 

Diana Namumbejja Abwoye, Board President, Our Bodies Ourselves

“Despite enormous progress in making medication abortion available to those in ALL 52 states, regardless of legal restrictions now in place, many do not know of this option and the ease with which one can obtain information and help via organizations like PLAN C. Similarly, many do not know of the misleading messages and problematic role played by ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ created by anti-abortion organizations. We are so pleased that the Healey-Driscoll Administration will be using social media and other means to help the public gain access to accurate information to help achieve their reproductive health goals.” 

kimika ross and feyla mcnamara, Co-Executive Directors, Tides for Reproductive Freedom

“Tides for Reproductive Freedom is encouraged by the initiative taken by the state of Massachusetts to combat the misinformation and dangerous medication administered by Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). In our recent Community Access Scan respondents ranked CPCs as the 3rd most trusted source of information regarding abortions. While in the field we spoke with community members aligned with the need for safe and affordable access to abortion who directed us to their local CPCs (typically set up in low-income communities and communities of color), citing them as allies in the work we do. This speaks to what we have said since our founding- CPCs are predators in our communities, spreading confusion and building trust where others have failed. This is a big step to invest in our people and demonstrate real care about how we are impacted by these harmful and irresponsible organizations.” 

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Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Launches First-in-the-Nation Public Education Campaign on the Dangers of Anti-Abortion Centers

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