Why Anti-Abortion Fake Clinics Aren’t Helping New Parents

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

A recent Q&A in the New York Times magazine’s ethicist column [1] addressed a question I’m often asked about anti-abortion fake clinics: “Aren’t they doing a good thing, even if it’s done in a bad way?”

My answer every time: absolutely not.

Here’s the scenario: Someone wrote in that they crochet baby blankets as a hobby, and often donated them to the local hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU.) Unfortunately because of the pandemic, they’ve been unable to donate there, and considered donating to a local anti-abortion fake clinic even though they are staunchly pro-choice. I can understand the frustration. Many in-person donation and volunteering opportunities have been cut back for COVID safety precautions, despite the need for these services increasing in many cases. When you have the time, resources, and ability to support, but can’t, it can feel disheartening. Helping others feels good, and knowing your talents can be used to improve others’ lives, especially families in need at the start of a new life, must be incredibly rewarding.

The columnist responded that there are likely other places that could accept the donation, possibly requiring the donor to mail out a shipment or be creative with who they considered for the donated items. I have my own recommendations at the bottom of this post. But first, I want to address how the columnist opens their advice:

“These clinics you’re considering donating to are doing something very good: They’re looking after mothers and babies who need care. They’re also implicated in something you think is seriously wrong: shaming women who want to exercise their legal right to an abortion and campaigning to restrict or eliminate that legal right.” [1]

Well, they got the second part right. But it’s flummoxing that an ethicist can’t see through the façade of fake clinics. For one, these centers don’t just shame people seeking abortion, but also actively deceive, lie to, and block people from other essential health care services required to manage pregnancy – whether the person decides to remain pregnant or not. Furthermore, if an individual or organization’s aid is contingent on making others do what the they want in order to receive that aid, can we really call that aid at all? No way. What fake clinics do is not support. It’s coercion, control, and brainwashing. It’s not “very good,” but very dangerous.

Not to mention, these centers often don’t just give away items donated to them. In many cases, fake clinics offer what they call “mommy bucks” as a part of their “earn while you learn” programs, where people seeking pregnancy or parenting items have to listen to brainwashing anti-abortion, anti-sex lessons or receive Christian ministry education to earn certificates they can use in exchange for a few packs of diapers or the like. And as the vile, racist anti-abortion fake clinic operator Abby Johnson revealed, these services have an expiration date: “If I were to open a pregnancy center, I would not have pregnancy items past six months. Are we running a charity? Are we running a place where we want women to become self-sufficient? […] Cut them off.” [2]

All this while many fake clinic chains collect millions in taxpayer dollars at the state, federal, and local level to carry on this deception, shaming, and at times fraudulent behavior, as I’ve written about extensively in the past. So no, there’s no part of the anti-abortion fake clinic’s mission that could be labeled as “very good,” particularly when the organizations that spew all this bad into the world also receive public money that could be going to feed needy families or a whole host of other initiatives that actually help pregnant people and children.

As for other donation options, the advice-seeker could check in on what donations are accepted by All-Options, a pro-choice pregnancy resource center, or inquire with local food & diaper banks that sometimes collect other items. Additionally, mutual aid collectives have formed across the country since the start of the pandemic with a lot of opportunities to donate and plug in to support the community. Even places that operate as safe havens, like firehouses, could be a smart place to offer this generous and heart-felt donation.


  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/magazine/abortion-rights-donations.html?searchResultPosition=1I Donate to Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Clinics? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
  2. https://youtu.be/4NNpkv3Us1I?t=953
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