WVFREE and Women’s Health center work to expose fake clinics

WVFREE and the Women’s Health Center collaborated for an Expose Fake Clinics Happy Hour Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Bodega Market and Cafe to inform attendees about fake pregnancy clinics in West Virginia. Food was provided, a cash bar was available, and both organizations handed out free merchandise.

Katie Quinonez, partner with the Women’s Health Center, said the number of fake clinics is problematic in West Virginia and people need to be educated about them.

“This is an effort to expose fake clinics, and the issue is worth highlighting right now because there are more than sixteen in the state of West Virginia,” Quinonez said. “And fake clinics are essentially just sham clinics that try to confuse women into coming in the front doors, they don’t provide any actual medical care, are anti abortion, anti birth control and contraception.”

Quinonez said the clinics take away the rights and freedom from women who are pregnant.

“They basically try to manipulate women who are pregnant and may be considering terminating their pregnancy into not doing that, so taking their choices from them,” Quinonez said.

Quinonez said if a building becomes vacant next to a reproductive health clinic, fake clinics often move in. She said this is an easy method to spot a fake clinic.

“The Women’s Health Center actually has a crisis pregnancy center located right next door to us, which is something we have to battle when getting patients through our front doors,” Quinonez said. “Women’s Health Center is the state’s only full service nonprofit reproductive health center, and we’re the last remaining abortion provider in the state of West Virginia. The Women’s Health Center and WVFREE work together on a lot of initiatives to insure there is a lot of public awareness surrounding this very important issue.”

Katie Wolfe, a partner with WVFREE, said the organizations started organizing happy hours about fake clinics because education about the clinics became more important after a Supreme Court case ruled in favor of the fake clinics.

“There was a supreme court case, NIFLA v. Becerra, about fake clinics in California, that passed an ordinance that required fake clinics to say that they were not health providers, but the court ruled in favor of the fake clinics on the basis of freedom of speech,” Wolfe said. “This case made it to where now it’s up to public education and making sure people know they exist. We are visiting the cities, where there are fake clinics, so people are knowledgeable about what they are. In Huntington there is one fake clinic, A New Beginning, which made this one of our cities to visit.”

Wolfe said WVFREE finds fake clinics under the name of crisis pregnancy centers, and they can then relay the information over to the public.

“The fake clinics do a really good job staying under the radar,” Wolfe said. “A lot of them do have websites that you can go to and realize they are not a legitimate facility. We also find out from people who have visited them and alerted us that they had a bad experience there or what was actually going on inside. Some are even a national group, like Birthright, who have several fake clinics all over the country, so if they are under that name we immediately know they are fake.”

WVFREE and Women’s Health Center’s next event will in Morgantown, West Virginia, to raise awareness of the two fake clinics in the city.

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at [email protected].