She went undercover to a pregnancy crisis center. They told her that the abortion is reversible.

Screenshot: Mayday Health

Screenshot: Mayday Health

In October, investigative reporter Olivia Raisner visited five Indiana anti-abortion pregnancy centers — clinics that are often federally funded, although they offer no medical care and promote disinformation to discourage pregnant women from making the decision to have an abortion. She would enter each clinic armed with her pregnant friend’s urine, a button on her shirt that secretly doubled as a camera, and make appointments. There, she refused to sign any papers asking her not to record conversations to “make sure everything I did was legal,” Raisner told me in a phone interview. “The anti-abortion movement hasn’t filmed legally for years, and we don’t want to stoop to their level,” Raisner said.

On Thursday, Mayday Health released a video capturing Raisner’s experiences at the CPCs. In one clip, after she gave a positive pregnancy test and said she was considering an abortion, an employee immediately began spreading a steady stream of easily debunked lies. The associate warns Raisner, with no evidence, that “there have been a lot of suicides” after the abortion and that “it’s a very common problem.” Ironically, research has shown this being denied Having an abortion negatively impacts a person’s mental health, and over 95 percent of people who have an abortion do not regret the decision. Despite this, the clerk staunchly claims other mental health issues could arise, warning Raisner that having an abortion could even cause her to develop an eating disorder. She told Jezebel that several clinics said so.

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The clinic worker featured in Mayday’s video specifically backed the (false) claim that if Raisner performed a medical abortion, she didn’t have the option, over a dangerous one, to reverse the abortion with a special pill tried and tested method called “abortion pill reversal”. Raisner told Jezebel that anti-abortion advocates are increasingly pushing this false, medically dangerous claim as medical abortion becomes more widely available due to its continued availability in all 50 states.

Even as Raisner poured the facts into the anti-abortion clinics, she said it still took significant effort to “control my emotions and anger” when clinic staff lied to her face. “I knew that the longer I was able to stay there and really sell my story as a pregnant person, the more I would be able to absorb,” she explained. “I had to show the interactions happening countless times a day across the country for all the pregnant people who go to these centers and don’t have the information.”

As Raisner explains in the video, it’s common for staff at crisis pregnancy centers to pose as real doctors to spread random, inaccurate medical claims about abortion — almost like anti-choice improvisation. Staff member Raisner interacts with the proceeds to go through all the hits, including the fact that abortion causes infertility (it doesn’t) and that medicated abortion pills are unsafe because of “high levels of estrogen and progesterone” (they don’t have either). They provide free ultrasounds, financial support, all the necessary resources and make them very tempting to lean on,” Raisner told Jezebel. “Unfortunately, we know that these are fake medical clinics whose sole purpose is to spread lies and shame people from abortion.”

At the five clinics Raisner visited, she said it was as if all employees were reading from the same pre-made “script,” with various anecdotes interspersed. “The conversations were almost identical — when I told them I was considering abortion, they all led to ‘suicide’ and the risk of it,” Raisner said. That sounds like the worst possible cooptation of increased public awareness of mental health.

Proponents conducting covert undercover operations related to abortion are not uncommon — but are known to be more common perpetrated by anti-abortion activists who go into abortion clinics and collect and edit footage to spread cultural panic over “Planned Parenthood selling baby parts.” “ to stoke. (The summer of 2015 feels like it was just yesterday.)

To prepare to conduct her own undercover operation, Raisner researched local crisis pregnancy centers, made calls describing her made-up “situation,” and made appointments. Before those appointments, she said she “practiced with this little remote control” to operate the button camera and prepared questions that pregnant women usually ask — like about the safety of an abortion and potential concerns. Of course, as the Mayday Health video claims, medical abortion results in fewer extreme complications than Tylenol.

Across the country, before that Roe v. calf was overturned and several states banned abortion outright, crisis pregnancy centers outnumbered actual abortion clinics by a ratio of three to one, and many centers receive state and federal funding. Additionally, because they are not actual healthcare centers, they are not bound by the same privacy standards set by HIPAA that actual healthcare providers are required to adhere to. Yet they collect the same private and personal information as healthcare providers, with the freedom to share that information as they see fit.

Raisner told Jezebel that the clinic staff took her driver’s license and address and asked about her work, family, and friends. “You’re very consciously trying to identify other people in your life who could supposedly help you raise that baby,” she recalled. After she left the clinic saying she wasn’t sure if she would have an abortion, CPC staff followed up several times and asked her to come back.

Pregnancy crisis centers have increasingly become a key surveillance apparatus for anti-abortion advocates and even state governments that contract with abortion clinics — with grave potential consequences if abortion and pregnancy loss lead to increasing criminal charges.

Several victims of crisis pregnancy centers have told the Expose Fake Clinics campaign similar stories experiences, including one that said that after she left a clinic, a CPC worker “called her almost daily and told her that if she went through with the abortion she would die or end up in hell or get very sick . Some said they were forced to sign contracts pledging not to have an abortion before leaving the clinic.

“They just want you to give birth, and they’ll do anything for it — they’ve offered me money, they’ve given me baby blankets, they’re inviting the premise that they’re going to support me,” Raisner said. But it’s all just words. “It’s clear that after that person’s birth, that support really stops.”

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