Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Ashli A. Owen-Smith, PhD SM

Second Advisor

Donna J. Smith

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost services to women seeking reproductive health services. A trend amongst CPCs is to present themselves as licensed medical facilities on their client-facing websites (CFWs).

AIM: To identify the current state of medical representation of Crisis Pregnancy Center websites in Georgia.

METHODS: The sample was selected from a Crisis Pregnancy Center Map website. 71 CPCs were identified in Georgia. Modes of medical presentation and medical services offered on the CFWs as well as commonly used tropes to encourage clients to seek their services were systematically documented. Data were analyzed using qualitative content software.

RESULTS: Of the 71 CPC websites reviewed, 56.3% of CFWs describe their services as medical in nature. A third of centers (32.4%) directly described themselves as a “medical clinic”. Thirty-four centers describe their center volunteers as “medical professionals”, however, only 9 centers explicitly list the name and credentials of medically trained staff providing services. While 100% of CPCs offer free pregnancy testing, 73.2% offer limited obstetric ultrasound, and 25.4% offer STI/STD testing. Many centers in Georgia are affiliated with anti-abortion umbrella organizations like Care Net (61.9%), National Institute for Family and Life Advocates (54.9%), and Heartbeat International (42.2%).

DISCUSSION: At least half of all Georgia CPCs are using some method or combination of methods to represent themselves as licensed medical facilities to potential clients seeking reproductive health services. Anti-abortion umbrella organizations, who have programs to convert CPCs to “medical ministries”, have a significant presence in the state. Many of these centers are eligible for federal and state funding, and the growing conversion to “medical ministries” must be well understood if they are to continue to receive public dollars and provide services to women and families in Georgia.

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