Anti-abortion ‘fake clinics’ exist in Georgia. What they are and how to spot them.

Joshua Boucher/jboucher@thestate.com
·4 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will have a domino effect in Georgia.

In 2019, Georgia passed the “heartbeat ban,” a law that would have banned most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Ultrasounds can now detect cardiac activity in embryonic cells that will eventually become the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women realize they’re pregnant.

A challenge to that law remains before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is waiting for the Supreme Court guidance in Mississippi’s case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The Supreme Court’s decision effectively gives states the right to ban or restrict a person’s choice to terminate pregnancy. Georgia’s “trigger law” in effect means the state will likely ban abortions.

Georgia has at least 20 abortion clinics, including one each in Columbus, Dublin and Vidalia. The state also has ‘fake’ clinics.

According to Planned Parenthood, fake clinics (often called crisis pregnancy centers) look like health centers but have a hidden agenda. The anti-abortion centers advertise free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling, but do not include abortion as an option.

The Reproaction Education Fund tracks anti-abortion clinics throughout the United States. The organization included seven Georgia clinics in their fake clinic database, including cites in Columbus and Macon.

Planned Parenthood lists signs to identify clinics as fake.

Signs that GA pregnancy clinic may be ‘fake’

  • It’s listed online or on map apps as a pregnancy resource center, pregnancy help center, pregnancy care center, women’s resource center, or abortion alternatives.

  • They advertise free pregnancy tests, abortion counseling, pro-abortion screenings, abortion education, post-abortion care, or after-abortion help — but they refuse to help you get an abortion.

  • They advertise “abortion pill reversal” or say you can “reverse” an abortion. (This isn’t true — you can’t reverse an abortion.)

  • They say abortion is unsafe, or that it leads to cancer, infertility, or mental health problems. (This isn’t true — abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. The rate of major complications is less than 1%, and it’s safer than getting your wisdom teeth taken out. Abortion also doesn’t increase your risk for cancer, infertility, or mental health problems.)

  • They say abortion is illegal. (This isn’t true — abortion is legal in the US.)

  • They say negative things about abortion, birth control, condoms, or sex.

  • They don’t provide condoms or other effective birth control methods like the pill, patch, ring, shot, IUD, or implant — if they do offer birth control services, it’s usually only the fertility awareness method.

  • They try to pressure you into continuing a pregnancy, sometimes giving you baby clothes or small fetus dolls.

  • They try to talk about religion even when you don’t want to.

  • They say judgmental things about sex before marriage or LGBTQ+ people.

Because of Georgia’s 2005 Women’s Right to Know Act, saying abortion causes mental health problems or medical risks is not a sign of a ‘fake’ clinic. The law says all abortion counseling has to include medical risks and possible psychological effects. The law also requires patients be informed of the father’s responsibility, available medical assistance, free ultrasounds and medical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Planned Parenthood has vowed to fight if the abortion law is overturned.

“We have been preparing for this. We’re ready for this fight. Abortion is still legal and we will continue to fight across the country — this will not stop us,” the nonprofit tweeted.

“Your body is your own. You and only you should control your personal medical decisions.”