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Abuses of Bogus Abortion Clinics Told : Hearing: Women tell House panel of being shown graphic films of bloody fetuses and of ‘counselors’ accusing them of murder.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lured by Yellow Page ads promising free services at hundreds of “clinics” across the country, women seeking abortions instead have been confronted with graphic films of bloody fetuses and “counselors” who accuse them of murder, a House panel was told Friday.

“At these fake clinics there are no doctors, nurses or other trained health care personnel on site,” said Rep. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of a House subcommittee that is investigating the centers. “In fact, these so-called medical facilities are simply fronts for abusive anti-abortion campaigns.”

The telephone directory ads, many of which appeal to women with “unwanted” pregnancies with offers of free testing, were denounced by nearly a dozen witnesses who appeared before the House Small Business subcommittee on regulation.

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But at a separate press conference, several women who said they run legitimate centers offering alternatives to abortion accused Wyden of running a “kangaroo court” because he would not allow them to testify at the hearing.

Wendy Stone, public affairs associate for the Americans United for Life coalition, said before the hearing that Wyden was “slandering” and “censoring” the “unsung heroes of the pro-life movement” who run legitimate crisis pregnancy centers throughout the country.

At the hearing, however, Wyden argued that “the vast majority of Americans who are against abortion want no part of the lies and deceit perpetrated by the establishments being investigated by the subcommittee.”

Instead, he placed much of the blame for the problem on telephone companies and directory publishers that print “a blizzard of confusing display ads and category listings which are grossly misrepresentative.”

Wyden and several witnesses at the hearing criticized listings of non-medical centers under the “clinic” heading, and anti-abortion centers in the “abortion services” rather than the “abortion alternatives” category.

Shannon Locke of Northwest Little Rock, Ark., told the subcommittee she called the Central Arkansas Crisis Pregnancy Center when she found out she was pregnant in December, 1990. When she asked how much an abortion would cost, “the woman asked me to come into their office because she was at home away from her desk and didn’t have the information,” Locke said.

While waiting for the results of her pregnancy test at the center the next day, Locke said she was forced to watch a film that suggested that abortions caused women to bleed to death or lose the ability ever to have children.

After the “counselor” told Locke her test was positive, “she argued with me about the fact that I should not have an abortion and even said she would adopt the child herself,” Locke said. “She was trying to really hurt me, trying to really get to me--and she did.”

Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, read to the subcommittee excerpts from a manual published by the anti-abortion Pearson Foundation, based in St. Louis.

Fitzsimmons said the manual, titled “How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach Pregnancy Center,” states at one point: “Remember, there is nothing wrong or dishonest if you don’t want to answer a question (on the phone) that may reveal your pro-life position.”


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