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Groups call on Department of Health to hold fake women’s health centers accountable

News from Progress Florida and Florida NOW

Contact: Amy Weintraub/ 304-541-9027/
Judi Marraccini / 941-957-8077/

TAMPA - Lining an entire block on West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, more than 50 representatives from the National Organization for Women and Progress Florida held a press conference Friday afternoon to call attention to the proliferation of fake women’s health centers in Florida. The groups are collecting signatures for a petition to Dr. Celeste Philip, Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, urging her to increase efforts to hold fake clinics accountable.

More than 120 Florida fake clinics (they like to call themselves crisis pregnancy centers) have sprung up across Florida to convince pregnant women not to have abortions through shame and misinformation. Often they represent themselves as legitimate, comprehensive reproductive health care clinics in their efforts to lure women in the door, but in fact they offer no access to contraception or abortion care. There are more than 20 of these fake women’s health centers in the Tampa Bay region alone.

"Fake clinics offer a form of counseling in which a volunteer or staff person asks probing questions and pressures a woman to carry her pregnancy to term," said Amy Weintraub, Reproductive Rights Program Director at Progress Florida. "They give false, inaccurate, and misleading information to women to dissuade them from getting an abortion. They’ll say abortion causes breast cancer or infertility. Or that it leads to suicide or something they’ve dubbed post-abortion stress disorder. Research shows none of these claims are actually true.”

Speakers at Friday’s event expressed concern that a case out of California, NIFLA v. Becerra, currently before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), could be decided in favor of the fake clinics. California’s network of fake women’s health centers are seeking to overturn a state law requiring them to post signs indicating when there is no licensed medical staff on site or that comprehensive reproductive health care is available elsewhere in the community.

In addition to the SCOTUS case, Friday’s press conference participants protested the Florida law passed during the 2018 legislative session which permanently funds the network of fake clinics with millions of taxpayer dollars annually. Senate Bill 444 was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott and funds only entities that exclusively promote childbirth.

“The Legislature knowingly cut out qualified family planning providers who, in addition to supporting well pregnancy, provide birth control and referrals to safe and legal abortion care," said Terry Sanders, President of the Florida National Organization for Women. "Florida women need to know when they enter a fake clinic’s doors they will not receive medically accurate information and will not receive access to the full range of reproductive health care services."