OAKLAND, October 23, 2023 – California Attorney General Bonta today led a coalition of 16 attorneys general in an open letter supporting Yelp’s efforts to ensure that consumers are provided with clear and accurate information about the limitations of services and staffing offered by Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Yelp has provided notices on CPCs’ Yelp pages notifying consumers that CPCs do not provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare. In the letter, the coalition supports Yelp’s efforts to provide accurate information to consumers who utilize the platform to find reproductive healthcare providers.
“In this post-Dobbs era, as many states across the nation continue to restrict access to comprehensive reproductive health and abortion care, it is essential that consumers have access to timely and accurate information about how and where to access reproductive health services,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Consumers should be armed with the facts when they make decisions about their health, or when they choose a healthcare provider. The fact is that Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not offer comprehensive reproductive healthcare services or access to abortion care or referrals, and often rely on deceptive tactics to lure in consumers. We support Yelp’s efforts to give consumers the information they need while making time-sensitive decisions about their healthcare providers.”
In the letter, the attorneys general support Yelp’s efforts to help educate consumers and ensure that patients are informed of what services are and are not available through CPCs, which ultimately protects the public health. Over the past decade, CPCs have proliferated in the coalition states, outnumbering abortion clinics by a three-to-one ratio. In the letter, the coalition points out that Yelp’s efforts to provide accurate notices about CPCs on its platform helps combat misinformation, benefits consumers, and is backed by evidence that shows:
- CPCs do not provide full-scope reproductive healthcare, including abortion services or referrals, and some don’t provide healthcare services at all. A recent study looking at 607 CPCs in nine states found that the majority did not offer medical services beyond urine pregnancy tests. Only 28.1% of the CPCs offered sexually transmitted infection testing services, and only 16.6% offered any sort of sexual education. Only a small minority of CPCs have affiliated licensed medical personnel. In a recent survey, only 16% of CPCs responded that they had an affiliated physician and just over 25% indicated they have an affiliated registered nurse. Furthermore, CPCs frequently disclaim any obligation to keep patients’ medical information private.
- CPCs frequently use deceptive and unethical methods to lure pregnant people who are seeking comprehensive reproductive healthcare—including abortion—into their centers. CPCs often target vulnerable populations and communities facing barriers to reproductive healthcare access such as young people, people of color, and those for whom English is not their primary language. Additionally, CPCs have been known to provide those who visit with inaccurate and deceptive information about reproductive health. Reproductive Freedom For All, formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, conducted a study of CPCs that found: CPCs employ online marketing strategies to ensure they appear in online searches for “abortion clinic”; provide misleading information about contraception and misinformation connecting abortions to infertility, breast cancer, and mental illness; and purposely locate their centers near comprehensive health clinics or in medical buildings that give the impression that medically accurate services are available.
- CPCs delay pregnant people from accessing critical, sometimes life-saving reproductive healthcare by dissuading pregnant people from seeking abortion care. For example, according to a recent lawsuit, a Massachusetts woman ended up with a ruptured fallopian tube and emergency surgery after staff at a CPC missed that her pregnancy was ectopic. She visited the CPC for an ultrasound after searching online for a nearby place to confirm her pregnancy, and was told by the CPC that she had a viable, intrauterine pregnancy. Similarly, according to the study of 607 CPCs, a patient in New Mexico reported that, after being counseled not to get an abortion, a CPC refused to provide an ultrasound for at least two weeks, which was highly risky given the patient’s history of ectopic pregnancy.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to supporting, expanding, and protecting reproductive freedoms and ensuring equal access to quality, affordable healthcare. Weeks ago, he joined an amicus brief in the Supreme Court defending access to mifepristone, a safe and effective medication abortion pill. Last month, he announced a lawsuit against a national anti-abortion group, and a chain of five crisis pregnancy centers in Northern California alleging that the organizations used fraudulent and misleading claims to advertise an unproven and largely experimental procedure called “abortion pill reversal (APR)”. And in September, he filed a multistate amicus brief supporting the federal government’s challenge to Idaho’s radical abortion ban.
Joining Attorney General Bonta in the open letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Washington.
A copy of the letter is available here.