State lawmaker launches investigation into "crisis pregnancy centers"

Stephen Skinner of West Virginia has sent letters of inquiry to 37 anti-choice centers in his state

By Katie McDonough
Published August 20, 2013 12:37PM (EDT)
             (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
(AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

While reproductive rights opponents in states across the country continue to scrutinize the safe operations of abortion clinics, one state lawmaker in West Virginia has turned the tables and launched an investigation into "crisis pregnancy centers."

Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, wrote that he launched the investigation because he is "deeply concerned that women may be deceived by a [crisis pregnancy center's] name, advertising and location into believing that it offers comprehensive reproductive care, including contraception and abortion, or at the very least, referrals for those services."

"[These centers] should be able to [advocate against abortion], but what they can't do is tell people that they're providing medical services when they're not," Skinner added.

Skinner sent letters of inquiry to 37 centers across the state, and he modeled his questions off the state attorney general's recent inquiry into abortion clinics, as the Charleston Daily Mail notes:

The first question in both letters is identical: how often are the centers or abortion clinics "inspected by the State or a self-regulatory body?"

They both also ask about "compliance" plans at the respective centers.

"I have exactly the same legal authority to ask these questions as the attorney general," Skinner said.

The Jefferson County attorney said he's considered asking questions about the centers for some time.

"He's sending questions to centers who have licensed medical providers. They're licensed," Skinner said. "I'm sending letters to entities that I don't know if they have any license, or anyone whose actually been trained by medical personnel on giving services to women.

"I would like to know whether these centers are actually telling women all of their medical choices."


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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