Crisis pregnancy center warning quietly removed from state abortion info website

Anti-abortion rights group pushed for language to be removed

By: - June 28, 2023 5:06 am

The State of Nevada, under the direction of then-Gov. Steve Sisolak, last year launched an "Abortion Information for Nevadans" page to provide accurate info on the state's abortion laws and to warn the public about crisis pregnancy centers, which often present themselves as medical clinics when they are primarily designed to stop women from considering abortions. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo instructed the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to remove from its website information warning the public about crisis pregnancy centers.

 A four-paragraph section with the subheading “Report Misleading Abortion Service Providers” first appeared on an “Abortion Information for Nevadans” page launched by DHHS in October 2022, under the direction of Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. It described CPCs as “organizations that seek to intercept women considering abortion.”

“CPCs often advertise that they provide medical services, advice, and counseling in a clinical setting,” the section continued. “However, CPCs do not provide comprehensive, accurate, or evidence-based clinical information. Instead, the primary goal of CPCs is to dissuade people seeking abortions from obtaining the procedure.”

The site then linked to an existing portal for reporting complaints to the state and encouraged the public to report any misleading practices by Nevada CPCs.

The Wayback Machine, a website that archives internet pages, shows the information appearing on the page on April 13 and May 28. The Current noticed the CPC section had been removed on June 1.

Lombardo spokesperson Elizabeth Ray confirmed that the governor’s office instructed the DHHS to remove the information.

“Governor Lombardo was concerned by the mischaracterization and politicization of crisis pregnancy centers on a government website,” she said in an emailed statement. “Governor Lombardo believes that crisis pregnancy centers offer critical resources, support, and care for pregnant women in Nevada.”

A partial screenshot of a Nevada Right to Life virtual campaign to encourage Gov. Joe Lombardo to remove language about crisis pregnancy centers.

Nevada Right to Life, an anti-abortion rights group, in mid-May asked its followers to sign a virtual petition encouraging Lombardo to remove the CPC language, saying it was “derogatory.”

In an emailed statement to the Current, Nevada Right to Life Executive Director Melissa Clement praised the removal of the language, which they called “threatening and bullying.” Clement accused former Gov. Sisolak of attempting to “criminalize community service organizations that walk alongside and provide critical services and help to pregnant and parenting women.”

She added, “It is a relief to finally have a governor who does not see himself as the marketing department of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.”

Lombardo, who unseated Sisolak last year, is already affiliated with CPCs, of which Nevada has at least seven. Lombardo as a gubernatorial candidate attended a fundraising gala for Women’s Resource Medical Centers of Southern Nevada, a CPC in Las Vegas. WRMCSN at that event auctioned off a helicopter ride-along donated by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, which Lombardo oversaw as then-sheriff of Clark County.

More recently, Lombardo received praise from pro-abortion rights advocates and criticism from far-right followers for signing a Democrat-backed bill to prohibit the state from assisting in the arrest or extradition of someone charged in another state for a crime related to reproductive health care services such as abortion, unless that crime is also a crime in Nevada.

Lombardo has routinely called himself “pro-life” but emphasized that Nevadans through a statewide vote codified protections for abortion.

Removal of the CPC-focused section appears to be the only recent change made to the state’s abortion information webpage. Other sections, which include information on the state statute protecting abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and explanations of the various types of abortions, remain intact.

According to a spokesperson for the DHHS Division of Public and Behavioral Health, which oversees the complaint portal, no complaints related to abortion services were filed during the time period the CPC language was up.

Ample evidence exists nationwide about the predatory practices used by CPCs. One analysis from 2021 of CPCs across nine states, not including Nevada, found they provided virtually no medical care and routinely promoted false medical claims.

The Wayback Machine captured the section on crisis pregnancy centers on the state website on May 28, 2023.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, three children and one mutt.