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The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Problem Pregnancy and Worcester’s False Clinic Epidemic

Problem Pregnancy, Worcester, MA. Photo courtesy of MassLive

Clark students are often greeted by “Welcome to Worcester” fliers that end up in dorm rooms during the first weeks of the fall semester. This year, residents were surprised to find a blurb promising to “help needy pregnant women” among advertisements for local restaurants and stores. The University claimed in August that the poster-sized fliers were brought in by unauthorized guests.

The clinic that placed the ad, Problem Pregnancy, promises to give visitors free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, as well as alternatives to an abortion. They also claim to provide free baby supplies and refer patients to social and medical care if necessary. On paper, Problem Pregnancy seems to be like Planned Parenthood, offering abortions and reproductive health services for those who need them. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Local journalist Bill Shaner explained in his article, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Like Problem Pregnancy Disguise Anti-Abortion Stance With Pro-Choice Messaging,” that Problem Pregnancy is “the anti-abortion movement’s answer to Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion providers.” It’s a clinic that uses deceptive language and images of young mothers with babies to try and elicit a Planned Parenthood-like image.

 A banner on their website promises that “the choice is yours”: deceptive messaging meant to lure in people that are on the fence about getting an abortion. There’s the impression that the care provided will be impartial, and that the patient will ultimately decide the outcome. However, a quick click onto their webpage under their “Abortion Consultation” tab tells a different story. It notes that “Problem Pregnancy does not perform or refer for abortions.” They also say that 10-25% of pregnancies end in a spontaneous abortion. 

Problem Pregnancy claims that they can tell patients whether their pregnancy is viable, and determine if a miscarriage is likely. But Problem Pregnancy is not a registered medical clinic, which means that the people administering pregnancy tests and ultrasounds aren’t required to have any medical qualifications. 

A similar crisis pregnancy center in Worcester, the Clearway Clinic, is facing a lawsuit after a patient who alleges that they weren’t notified of a dangerous pregnancy. In comparison to Problem Pregnancy, Clearway Clinic is a licensed medical office. However, they still operate under the same pro-life values that Problem Pregnancy does, citing the abortion pill reversal hotline as a resource and a “Thinking about Abortion?” webpage that makes you question if an abortion is the right decision or even whether you’re able to make that choice yourself. 

On Problem Pregnancy’s website, they describe what a “typical abortion” is like. The “First Trimester Surgical Abortion” page describes a surgical abortion, and notes that the risks and side effects to the mother may include anything from feeling faint and being nauseous to an “incomplete abortion,” or even death.

Problem Pregnancy opened in December of 1982, shortly after the Planned Parenthood across the street opened. While they may offer basic reproductive care services, the organization seems more focused on convincing its patients to go through with a full-term pregnancy. Worcester City Councilor Thu Nguyen led a lengthy campaign to better regulate false advertising from “clinics” like Problem Pregnancy. A draft ordinance was put before City Council on Oct. 17, and was ultimately voted down, 7-4. Mayor Joseph Petty spoke for the “no” party, arguing that the ordinance would not be legally enforceable, according to reporting from Neal McNamara, of Worcester Patch. 

Aside from their advertisement that was distributed to Clark students, Problem Pregnancy seems to be keeping to itself for now. The Scarlet attempted to contact the clinic by phone; the clinic would not offer a comment without an in-person consultation.

Planned Parenthood should continue to be the first choice for those wanting to get care provided by a licensed medical professional and actual reproductive health advice. You can reach out to them online at or text ‘PPNOW’ to 774636 for more information.

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