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Imposter Syndrome

FAKE ABORTION CLINICS are all over the U.S.—they outnumber real abortion providers nearly four to one. Fake clinics are created solely to deceive women by looking like a doctor’s office and using “counseling” to discourage them from having abortions. Here’s how to tell a legit clinic from one of these fake joints when you’re looking to explore all of your reproductive options. 

For starters, do your internet homework before you make an appointment. A fake clinic’s name and website will look nearly identical to a real clinic’s—a pastel palette, words like choice and options, and pictures of wistful young women and people in scrubs. So put on your glasses and read between the lines. Every real clinic states clearly that they provide abortion care in big, bold letters. Fake clinic sites will feature info about different kinds of procedures along with a button that reads: “Click to make an appointment!” This is how they get you. If the words “we provide” aren’t next to the types of abortion they describe, or if they emphasize the risks or a bunch of (fully debunked, btw) dangers of abortion (like that it causes breast cancer—it. does. not), they’re fake AF. Another red flag is a focus on free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds—stuff that looks medical. But if you see the words “limited ultrasound,” that means some rich-ass anti-abortion donor bought them a machine that any unlicensed technician (i.e. even your drunk uncle Jeff) can operate, and tell vulnerable people anything they want about the results. Still not sure? Give them a call and straight up ask if they do abortions. A real clinic will give you info about the full range of services they provide (including comprehensive options counseling). Most fake clinics will either say they don’t, or they’ll tell you to come in and talk about it. (Code for “Let me prolong your time not seeing an actual doctor and lie to you about the effects of abortion.”) Pro tip: You can find a totally real clinic in your area at ineedana.com

OK, so you’re sure you’re not going to a fake clinic, and you’ve made your appointment at a real provider. But you’re not in the clear just yet. Fake clinics are often right across the street from actual providers. There might even be “friendly” people outside welcoming you to the wrong parking lot. Do a Google street view of the real clinic ahead of time and pay attention to any directions they give you.

It’s all pretty rage inducing, right? Well you can fight back! My organization, Lady Parts Justice League, launched the #ExposeFakeClinics initiative with the Abortion Access Hackathon and other groups across the country, and we’ve got all kinds of tools for shining a bright light on lies and deception. Join in the action at exposefakeclinics.com.

By Lizz Winstead
Illustrated by Karina Shor

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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