‘Pregnancy crisis centers’ endanger adolescent health, doctors say

(Reuters Health) – “Pregnancy crisis centers” look and act like health clinics but fail to meet medical and ethical standards, often using biased and inaccurate information to persuade women not to have an abortion, say two national groups of physicians.

The “misinformation” offered by these centers generally includes limited options for the next stages of pregnancy and unscientific explanations of sexual and reproductive health, according to a joint statement by the Society for Adolescent Health and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology which has been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

These centers “increasingly obtain funding, support and legal protections from the government despite their secondary religious goals resulting in exclusions from care and counseling that deviate from scientific evidence and national standards of care,” Andrea said. Swartzendruber from the University of Georgia in Athens, co-author of the position statement.

“Unfortunately, awareness of crisis pregnancy centers and the limits of their services seems low among the general public,” she told Reuters Health by email. “Centers often hide their real mission of attracting people who might otherwise seek their services. “

In the joint statement, the authors claim that these centers do not adhere to standards of medical practice in sexual and reproductive health, in particular informed consent. They encourage federal, state, and local governments to be careful with funding and only support programs that provide accurate, unbiased, and complete information about unplanned pregnancies, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and all pregnancy options. , including abortion.

The statement also urges government regulators and accreditation bodies for health professions to monitor standards of medical care and ethics at these centers. Beyond that, the authors discourage school boards and administrators from outsourcing sex education to these centers and urge companies with online platforms to monitor how these centers represent their services through blogging, social media posts and advertisements.

Finally, the statement encourages health professionals, health groups and health services to understand and discuss the limits of crisis pregnancy centers and to help young people identify and access services with specific care. , safe and evidence-based.

“Although people working in CPCs in the United States have the right to First Amendment free speech, their provision of disinformation can be harmful to young people and adults,” the authors of the statement write.

“Emergency pregnancy centers receive federal funding. We need to discuss the medical and ethical standards of these centers because people may view receiving government funds as an endorsement of sound medical advice, but study after study shows that CPCs routinely provide misleading and inaccurate medical information, ”said Katelyn Bryant-Comstock of IntraHealth International in Chapel Hill, NC, who was not involved in the position statement.

“Many emergency pregnancy centers actively target young people with medically inaccurate information,” she said via email. “Our taxpayers’ money pays for services that undermine the health of people, and we need to voice our concerns about organizations that are funded to promote health services. “

To help the public and researchers identify crisis pregnancy centers, Swartzendruber and a colleague created a map of the approximately 2,500 such centers operating in the United States (crisisgrossessecentermap.com).

“Inclusion of CPCs on some state lists of entities providing sexual health and pregnancy services may mislead health care providers and others into assuming that CPCs provide comprehensive and impartial care. “said Joanne Rosen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the position statement.

Sexually active adolescents and young adults, who typically have limited resources and powers, should be able to access services focused on their specific needs and preferences, Rosen said via email.

“Pregnancy resource centers can help meet some of these needs, but their resources and services are not enough and they come with strings attached,” said Katrina Kimport of the University of California at San Francisco, who studies reproductive health decision-making.

“As the position statement shows, because they do not meet medical and ethical standards, these centers cannot be part of a reliable health care system,” she told Reuters Health by email. . “Teenagers deserve better.

THE SOURCE: bit.ly/2NoHvVZ Journal of Adolescent Health, online October 28, 2019.

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