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Attorney General Ellison issues consumer alert about crisis pregnancy centers

Crisis pregnancy centers may provide misleading information about abortion and contraception, and often do not provide services they claim to offer. Consumers are encouraged to contact the Attorney

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Attorney General Keith Ellison issues consumer alert about crisis pregnancy centers.
Contributed / The Office of Minnesota Attorney General
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a consumer alert Monday that warns Minnesotans seeking reproductive health care about the limited services and potentially deceptive nature of certain claims made by crisis pregnancy centers, according to a press release .

There are 85 crisis pregnancy centers in Minnesota — most of them faith-based, unregulated medical clinics that seek to deter patients from obtaining abortion care. They often provide free services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy tests and counseling sessions to discuss pregnancy options, all of which can be attractive to patients facing unplanned pregnancies.

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“The Minnesota constitution guarantees the right to safe and legal abortion. Many crisis pregnancy centers claim to offer comprehensive healthcare, but their purpose is to prevent pregnant people from accessing that right — which sometimes they accomplish by misleading, misinforming, or deceiving people,” said Ellison.

“All Minnesotans — including pregnant people — deserve to get accurate, medically sound information about their options from providers they can trust. As Minnesota’s chief consumer advocate and legal officer, I want to alert Minnesotans that crisis pregnancy centers often do not offer the services they claim to offer, and that the information about abortion and contraception they offer may be inaccurate or misleading."

This is consistent with the results of an investigation by the Post Bulletin published in August, which also found that more than a quarter of Minnesota’s crisis pregnancy centers – five of which are state funded – advertise a controversial and potentially dangerous procedure to “reverse” a medication-based abortion.

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“I encourage anyone who may be pregnant to do their homework and to seek out medically accurate and sound information about their health and their options from licensed healthcare professionals,” Ellison said.

The consumer alert press release cited a 2021 report about crisis pregnancy centers authored by a collaboration of law and policy centers working to advance gender equity, including Gender Justice in St. Paul . The study found that within Minnesota “only 9% of the centers claim to have a physician and only 20% indicate they have a registered nurse on staff.” The study also found that more than 95% of Minnesota’s crisis pregnancy centers do not provide prenatal or wellness care to pregnant consumers, and a majority do not provide prenatal referrals.

Crisis pregnancy centers are not regulated under Minnesota law, even though 27 centers receive almost $3 million in state funding each year through the Positive Alternatives Grant Program , administered by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, chair of the House Health Finance and Policy Committee, tried to increase government oversight of crisis pregnancy centers in 2019. She proposed an amendment to the Positive Alternatives statute that would have required grantees to provide medically accurate written materials and set guidelines for how to determine accuracy. It also would have required the health commissioner to establish a stricter evaluation process each grant cycle. However, the amendment never made it past the conference committee.

"The Legislature should look closely at strengthening the law to ensure that patients are not misled and their health is protected," Liebling said.

Ellison urges anyone with any concerns or information about potentially misleading claims made by any crisis pregnancy center to contact his office by calling 651-296-3353 in the Twin Cities metro area; 800-657-3787 in greater Minnesota; or 800-627-3529, Minnesota Relay; or by filing a complaint online .

Related Topics: ROCHESTERABORTIONMINNESOTA
Molly Castle Work is an award-winning investigative journalist. She has investigated a range of topics such as OSHA and worker safety during COVID-19, racially-disproportionate juries and white-owned newspapers' role in promoting lynchings. Readers can reach Molly at 507-285-7771 or mwork@postbulletin.com.
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