On April 3, eight activists gathered to protest the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, D.C. The action was one of the first of its kind in the D.C. metro area, and even in the rain, activists were in high spirits.
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center is an anti-abortion fake clinic that claims to serve over 2,000 people a year. The clinic is large and is painted in white and green, making it stand out amongst the other storefronts along a busy intersection in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Outside the clinic, a sign reads, “Pregnant? Need Help?” with a number and the caption, “free pregnancy tests.” While it seems like a crisis pregnancy center with limited services, it actually is affiliated with Heartbeat International and CareNet, two of the largest fake clinic networks in the country.
Emily Patton, a clinic escort with the Washington Area Clinic Task Force, kicked off the action by talking about her experience as a clinic escort and the harassment she faces from the pro-life movement in Northern Virginia. Emily shared some of the common tactics fake clinics use.“Because fake women’s health centers aren’t licensed medical professionals, they aren’t subject to HIPAA,” she said. “All of the information they collect from their ‘patients’ isn’t necessarily confidential.” She remarked how aggressive the opposition is, and how our movement needs to start holding them accountable. After, activists surrounded the clinic with signs to warn the community reading, “this clinic lies” and “get fake clinics out of D.C.”
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center has largely gone unnoticed despite having a presence in the community since 1985. Neighbors passing by were surprised to see us out there, and many had no idea that it was an anti-abortion fake clinic. One man who lived nearby seemed shocked by the news, asking, “You mean, this isn’t an abortion clinic?”
As reproductive justice advocates prepare for a decision in the Supreme Court case NIFLA v. Becerra, Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center is also preparing. They recently announced plans to offer medical services like free ultrasounds at the clinic, and have recently expanded by opening another fake clinic in D.C. that targets low-income women.
Reproaction is proud to educate the community about anti-abortion fake clinics, and we are excited to continue to take bold action to call them out for their deceptive tactics in D.C. and across the country.