I spent a couple days in the fall wandering into crisis pregnancy centers pretending I was pregnant to see what sort of information the Christian-run groups would give me about abortion and birth control.

Planned Parenthood has been campaigning against these types of centers for years, arguing that they deceptively present themselves as medical clinics, but then distribute misleading information and refuse to refer desperate women for abortions or contraception.

In front of a Senate Committee last week, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon Executive Director Roey Thorpe announced the results of a months-long investigation volunteers conducted at many of the 52 Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Oregon. After visiting these centers in much the same way I did, Thorpe says that many presented themselves as "health clinics" through their advertising and policies (like waiting rooms, intake forms, and staff in lab coats) although they are not medical facilities at all. "The majority of the centers we visited distributed medically inaccurate information about health risks of birth control," says Thorpe.

Thorpe used the investigation to bolster support for Senate Bill 769, a law that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers to be more upfront about their work. Under the bill, all places that provide pregnancy tests or ultrasounds to prominently post near their entrance whether they provide referrals for abortions, access to a doctor, prenatal medical care, and comprehensive birth control services.

But it looks like the bill is dead. The health care policy committee that heard Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion advocates' testimony last week declined to push the bill out to a floor vote, effectively killing it.

One galling detail is that the Crisis Pregnancy Centers actually used my article to argue against regulations. Larry Gadbaugh, the CEO of Pregnancy Resource Centers of Greater Portland, very selectively quoted from my piece, choosing to include in his testimony the paragraphs that make the centers look fair and open minded, and not the sections that back up what Planned Parenthood found. Here's the section he quoted to legislators:

In my own experience faking pregnancy at two of the Pregnancy Resource Centers of Greater Portland, I found the staff both compassionate about my liberal beliefs and upfront about the services they don't provide. When I scheduled an appointment over the phone at the SE Powell clinic, the receptionist told me straight away, "We do not refer for abortions. We just let people know ahead of time what we do and don't do." During our meeting when I asked a counselor at that location to help me figure out the pros and cons of ending my pregnancy, she handed me a blank sheet of paper and told me I should write out for myself how I felt about my options. Cheers to that.
... and one of the segments he chose to leave out:
At both crisis pregnancy centers I visited, the counselors gave me straightforward, unbiased advice. But the pamphlets they gave me as sources for more information were pure anti-abortion propaganda.

My personal pile of glossy pamphlets included a tract about the dangers of cohabitating before marriage (too late); an abstinence-promoting pamphlet informing me that based on my sexual experience, I have been exposed to 4,095 potentially STD-bearing individuals (whoops); a card directing me to check out true stories from other girls who have "been there" at Standupgirl.com; a pamphlet about the clinic's support group for "abortion-related trauma"; and a scary-looking booklet about the abortion pill titled, "RU-486 SURE?"

For now, it looks like Crisis Pregnancy Centers will continue to exist in Oregon without regulation and oversight. Pro-life websites claim that as a win.