Brow Beat

John Oliver Opens “Vanned Parenthood” to Reveal How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Mislead Women Who Want Abortions

However you feel about abortion, you ought to be troubled by the existence of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which pressure, mislead, and sometimes straight-up lie to women who are considering ending their pregnancies. But as John Oliver details in Last Week Tonight’s main segment this week, it’s not only legal for CPCs to falsely tell women that, for example, having an abortion increases their risk of breast cancer, but they often get government funding to do so. (They also, for some reason, greatly exaggerate the failure rate of using condoms as birth control, when you figure that preventing unwanted pregnancies should be fairly high on their list of priorities.) Since they use legal loopholes to avoid being classified as medical providers, CPCs aren’t subject to laws like HIPAA, which protects patients’ privacy, but they go out of their way to present themselves as full-service organizations, often with the word “Choice” in their names. “The best client you could ever get is one who thinks they’re walking into an abortion clinic,” says anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson.

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CPCs vastly outnumber abortion providers, with more than 2,700 nationwide compared to fewer than 1,700 abortion clinics. How easy is it to open one? Let Oliver and his fake wife, Wanda Jo (Rachel Dratch) show you. Having previously created Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption to show how easy it is to claim religious freedom from tax obligations, Oliver this time establishes a legal entity called Our Lady of Choosing Choice, Inc., a crisis pregnancy center on wheels—called “Vanned Parenthood,” of course—that can spread misinformation anywhere women are thinking about exercising their legal rights. “Getting an abortion turns your breast milk into kombucha!” burbles Wanda Jo—and the law protects her right to do it, too. Granted, in a week when we’re apparently seriously considering whether women who get abortions ought to be hanged, simply telling them lies until they have no choice but to carry a pregnancy to term seems like small potatoes. But there are too many CPCs for the Atlantic to fire them all, so Oliver’s segment spreads some much-needed awareness, and shows off a snazzy set of wheels to boot.

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