John Oliver Starts a Crisis Pregnancy Center to Show How Predatory and Unqualified They Are on Last Week Tonight
While Last Week Tonight has talked about access to abortion in the past, their main story this week covered a different aspect of accessible abortion in America that’s not talked about as much: crisis pregnancy centers (CPC), or the “exact opposite of an abortion clinic.”
Oliver begins, “Tonight’s main story concerns pornography. Some people believe it should be available and accessible without stigma. Others think, well, ‘It’s not for me but it’s fine for other people in certain situations.’ And a few people think it should be banned completely. Sorry did I say pornography? I meant abortion.”
CPCs are places that don’t provide abortions, but rather “are only there to talk women out of abortions.” Through vague wording, misleading names that usually include the word “choice” or “options”, and other tactics, they lure women to their facilities for the sole purpose of discouraging them from having an abortion. This means providing blatantly incorrect information from scripts (35% of suicidal behaviors may be attributed to abortion, doubles the risk of breast cancer, other bullshit claims that are basically made-up body horror), setting up near actual abortion providers in hopes that people will be confused, and parking vans outside legitimate abortion providers to try and get them in.
(For an individual perspective on CPC’s, I first learned about them through Megan Koester’s article “Two Big Frauds: I Pretended to Be Pregnant at a Crisis Pregnancy Center” which is a haunting and infuriating look at how these place prey on fear to manipulate women with misinformation.)
By performing “the trappings of a healthcare facility”, CPCs will emotionally manipulate women by writing uninvited messages on ultrasounds (“Hi Mommy and Daddy”), calling them “mom” and their ultrasounds babies, or straight up lying to them about how far along they are so they aren’t able to get a procedure in time. Oliver shares one clip from Abby Johnson at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference who said in a speech, “We want to appear neutral on the outside” and that “The best client you ever get is one that thinks they’re walking into an abortion clinic.”
Johnson also says that they’re adamant about cutting women off from support after 6 months. “So the basic argument there is, ‘We’re just not in a position where we can take care of a baby forever,” says the host, “‘We don’t have the time or the resources so we’re not making that commitment right now.’ To which I would say, ‘Yeah! Exactly!'”
There are more than 2700 crisis pregnancy centers and less than 1700 abortion providers in the US, with huge differences in certain states. It’s 1:38 in Mississippi, Oliver points out. Most are faith-based and started by churched. They’re not subjected to the same regulations as an actual healthcare provider and some even get government funding. Yeah.
To prove how easy it is to start a CPCs, Last Week Tonight starts one themselves in classic Last Week Tonight fashion, in the same way they did for they segment on mega-churches (“Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption”). This one, “Our Lady of Choosing Choice” includes an ultrasound van (“Vanned Parenthood”) and a special appearance by Rachel Dratch’s “Wanda Jo Oliver” who doesn’t even need any official training to operate it! She can tell you anything and there’s nothing stopping her!
“The point is this is perfectly legal and there is nothing stopping us…and frankly there really fucking should be,” says Oliver.
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