GOP senators introduce resolution to honor anti-abortion 'crisis pregnancy centers'

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Ron Johnson is among the Republican senators co-sponsoring Sen. Mike Lee's resolution to declare the week of the November election 'National Pregnancy Center Week.'

All 50 states will hold midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022. If Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and other congressional Republicans get their way, the week of the election will be officially designated in honor of anti-abortion pregnancy centers that misrepresent their purpose, claiming that they provide a range of services for pregnant people, lying about the supposed dangers of abortion, and manipulating patients to reject the procedure.

On July 29, Johnson announced that he and 18 other Senate Republicans had signed on as original co-sponsors of a resolution sponsored by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee "[d]esignating the week beginning November 7, 2022, as 'National Pregnancy Center Week' to recognize the vital role that community-supported pregnancy centers play in saving lives and serving women and men faced with difficult pregnancy decisions."

Though they present themselves as health clinics, so-called crisis pregnancy centers are not medically regulated. They engage in actions aimed at misleading patients about abortion and manipulating them into delaying their decision on how to proceed with their pregnancy until it is legally too late to terminate it. Thousands of these centers operate across the country.

The Guardian reported in June that Google searches in specific states frequently lead people who search for abortion care to crisis clinics that actively work to stop them from receiving that care.

Johnson, who backs a ban on nearly all abortions, said in May, according to the Wall Street Journal: "It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going away. ... I just don't think this is going to be the big political issue everybody thinks it is, because it's not going to be that big a change." He suggested that his own constituents that his own constituents could just drive to another state if they want to have an abortion.

In a statement issued on July 29, Johnson's press office touted the resolution and his work to protect crisis pregnancy centers from what he claimed were "violent attacks": "Sen. Johnson has played a crucial role in advocating for the protection of pregnancy centers and other pro-life organizations following an increase in violent attacks after the draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was leaked to the media. In June 2022, he joined his Republican colleagues in a letter calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate and work to prevent violence against pro-life organizations."

Other Republican co-sponsors of the resolution include Senate Minority Whip John Thune; National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott; and Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Marco Rubio (FL) and Tim Scott (SC).

Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) announced a similar resolution in the House a day earlier, on July 28. Twenty-seven of his GOP colleagues have already co-sponsored the legislation.

The American Medical Association calls crisis pregnancy center "legal, but unethical." In an article published in 2018 in its AMA Journal of Ethics, the authors noted:

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.

Anti-abortion rights lawmakers hope to put both chambers of Congress on the record as supporting "the important work of pregnancy centers across the United States" and recognizing "the importance of — (A) protecting life; and (B) assisting women and men in need as they bring children into the world."

These proposals come as Republican lawmakers across the country, emboldened by the unpopular June decision by the Supreme Court's GOP-appointed majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade abortion rights precedent, are pushing for a ban on most or all abortions.

Good, who has demanded an abortion ban in Virginia with no exceptions, said in a press release, "This is an historic year to call attention to the life-saving work conducted by the many pregnancy centers across the United States. Thankfully, after nearly half a century the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was finally made by five courageous justices."

"As the real work of fighting to protect every human life begins, now more than ever, our pregnancy centers will be called upon to aid women and families facing unexpected circumstances," the first-term congressman added. "I am proud to support them in their efforts."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.