Andrea Kopel, executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women New York (NCJW NY), shows sign used to promote the Pro Truth Campaign, a coalition to protect women's health led by NCJW NY, with UJA support.

It’s hard enough to navigate the healthcare system these days. Now imagine being a woman alone in New York City who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy. You’re scared. You want to learn more. And you enter what you think is a legitimate women’s healthcare clinic, staffed with licensed medical professionals who offer free services like sonograms or pregnancy tests.

Except the clinics are fake, peddling lies.

These places, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, are designed to deceive vulnerable women into thinking they are full-service reproductive healthcare providers. They don’t counsel women about all of their options. They often perpetuate misleading information about how far along a woman may be in her pregnancy or the rate of miscarriage, or myths that abortion causes breast cancer, mental health issues, or the inability to become pregnant in the future.

More than 3,000 fake clinics can be found across the country. And they are here locally, too. In New York City alone, more than a dozen so-called pregnancy centers are in the five boroughs.

So this past summer the National Council of Jewish Women New York (NCJW NY) decided to take action, with funding from UJA-Federation, to support their coalition-building work. NCJW NY now leads the Pro-Truth Campaign, a coalition with Lady Parts Justice League, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and other nonprofits to educate the community about these centers.

“The fake clinics are very strategic,” says Andrea Kopel, NCJW NY executive director. “They target low-income women of color. Many times these centers are located near legitimate women’s health care clinics, often in the same building, and designed to look like actual reproductive health clinics. So it’s confusing to someone who may not speak the language or is scared. They’re hoping someone who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy will walk in by accident.”

Pro-Truth has developed valuable resources to expose these centers, including a website with a trove of information about how to identify fake clinics, and a pamphlet in English and Spanish that can be distributed to schools, community centers, legal assistance centers, and other agencies. Pro-Truth is also actively growing its social media presence.

“Pro-Truth is about every person being given comprehensive and accurate information about their health and bodies so they can make an informed decision,” Andrea says.

At a time in their lives when women need access to the truth — we’re there for them.