RTN Protest in the fall in front of the Women's Center, a fake health center in Chicago.

Lisa Battisfore has been involved in the healthcare field in different capacities through the years, but it wasn’t until she volunteered with the clinic escort program in Chicago that she found her place among the reproductive justice movement, and created her own organization to fight back.

Reproductive Transparency Now (RTN) is not about saying fake health centers (sometimes known as crisis pregnancy centers) that lure in those seeking pregnancy resources “suck,” because even though they do, Battisfore says it is more than that. It is about deconstructing the messages fake health centers peddle, and educating abortion seekers and the general public about the danger of these institutions.

“We feel like people need to understand how entranced fake health centers are in our society and how hard it will be for us to put a stop to them,” she said.

In Chicagoland, there are four key fake health centers that deter abortion seekers: Aid for Women, Caris Pregnancy Counseling and Resources, Southside Women’s Services, and the Women’s Center. Each is registered as a 501©(3) non-profit and does not have to pay federal income taxes.

Illinois has 97 fake health centers and 24 abortion clinics, a 4:1 ratio.

The idea is to dissuade abortion seekers, to confuse them and force them to have ultrasounds, or give them fake health information, all in the name to stop an abortion. While these places label themselves as a resource for pregnant people, they are only focused on stopping abortion and inciting fear.

This is where RTN comes in.

Battisfore noticed that many people do not know what fake health centers are because of their intricate marketing schemes – sometimes people confuse them with real abortion health centers. 

Battisfore uses social media and protests to fight back against the false information they provide by putting out infographics, hosting interactive events and switching the tables by protesting at fake health centers, whereas many fake health center supporters are often the ones protesting at abortion clinics.

“Fake health centers have designed themselves to target marginalized populations,” she said. “They target pregnant people of color, people who are poor, people who don’t have a regular physician or have to travel long distances for health care.”

In December, RTN sent in an undercover member to the Women’s Center to seek care to learn first-hand how they treat their clients. The brochure the person received said the number one side effect of abortion is death, citing that people who get abortions are 95 percent more likely to die the following year after an abortion and are two-three times more likely to commit suicide – both unfound statements.

Battisfore hopes by showing the true nature of fake health centers, people will take their harm more seriously, especially in an era where Roe v. Wade is hanging by a thread.

Explore fake health centers near you here.

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Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a writer and the calendar editor for Rebellious Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @samstroozas.