GOP gubernatorial hopeful in Kentucky visits anti-abortion pregnancy center


Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron called the Pregnancy Help Center, which seeks to convince pregnant people not to get abortions, ‘an amazing resource.’

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who in January officially filed to run for governor in the Bluegrass State, visited a crisis pregnancy center earlier this month that a leading medical group says offers misleading or incorrect medical information that "undermine women's health."

"I was grateful for the opportunity to visit the Pregnancy Help Center in Richmond earlier this week. This medical clinic is an amazing resource, offering free medical services, compassionate support, & information for women, men, & families affected by an unplanned pregnancy," Cameron, who is running in the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in November, tweeted on Feb. 5.

The Pregnancy Help Center is among hundreds of fake abortion clinics across the United States that "oppose abortion, shame abortion care, or promote alternatives to abortion," according to Reproaction, a nonprofit that works to advance reproductive freedom.

The Pregnancy Help Center says on its website that it offers "free medical services and accurate information on all options regarding unplanned pregnancy, including abortion, adoption and parenting," but notes on the pages of its website that it does not provide or make referrals for abortions. According to Reproaction's database, the center is affiliated with Heartbeat International, a network of so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" whose goal is to prevent pregnant people from choosing abortion.

The American Medical Association says crisis pregnancy centers such as the one Cameron visited:

strive to give the impression that they are clinical centers, offering legitimate medical services and advice, yet they are exempt from regulatory, licensure, and credentialing oversight that apply to health care facilities. Because the religious ideology of these centers' owners and employees takes priority over the health and well-being of the women seeking care at these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options. Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women's health.

Cameron has celebrated crisis pregnancy centers before.

In February, Cameron joined 24 Republican state attorneys general in signing a letter demanding that Yelp, the online review website, remove warning labels called "consumer notices" on crisis pregnancy center pages that say these types of clinics "typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite."

"Discriminating against the services of crisis pregnancy centers hinders women and families from accessing the life-affirming care and support that they need," Cameron said in a statement announcing the letter. "Yelp's decision to issue warnings on the profiles of crisis pregnancy centers but not on Planned Parenthood facility profiles places politics above the health and wellness of women and children, and we will do everything in our power to stop this discrimination."

In September 2022, Cameron tweeted: "I was grateful for the opportunity to visit the Hope Pregnancy Care Clinic in Morehead earlier today. The clinic is an amazing resource for the community, offering medical services, education, counseling, and life-affirming care to women."

The clinic falsely claims on its website that abortions "suck the contents of your baby from the uterine wall" and stresses rare complications such as "bleeding, infection, cervical and uterine damage, scar tissue, sepsis, and loss of fertility." It also makes the unfounded claim that research suggests "worse mental health issues tend to crop up after a several years [sic]" in a person who has had an abortion.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that "abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer, depression, or infertility."

The Hope Pregnancy Care Clinic also says it offers an "abortion pill reversal," which ACOG says is "not based on science" and doesn't "meet clinical standards."

"In states across the country, politicians are advancing legislation to require physicians to recite a script that a medication abortion can be 'reversed' with doses of progesterone, to cause confusion and perpetuate stigma, and to steer women to this unproven medical approach," ACOG says. "Unfounded legislative mandates like this one represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety."

Abortion is set to be a major issue in the November gubernatorial election, in which Republicans are seeking to oust Beshear as leader of a state that former President Donald Trump carried by double-digit margins in 2016 and 2020.

Beshear has denounced Kentucky's near-total ban on abortion, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned its ruling in Roe v. Wade that had affirmed a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.

"The trigger law is an extremist law that the vast majority of Kentuckians disagree with," Beshear said. "It provides zero exceptions for victims of rape and incest, giving them no options despite the fact that they have been harmed and what they're going through is ... absolutely zero fault of their own."

Abortion rights groups are challenging the state's abortion ban in court.

A new nationwide poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 50% of respondents in Kentucky believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 13% say it should be illegal in all cases.

In November, 52% of the Kentucky voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution specifying that it did not "protect a right to abortion."

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the gubernatorial election a "Lean Democratic" contest.