The campaign styles of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush haven't shared many similarities, so far — but they can add one to the list when Walker visits a crisis pregnancy center in South Carolina on Monday.
Walker has a meet-and-greet scheduled at the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, this afternoon. Bush visited the same location about a month ago.
Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, are nonprofit organizations that counsel pregnant women against having abortions and promote abstinence instead of safe sex. Most CPCs are not medically licensed, but the ones that are sometimes offer services like pregnancy testing.
CPCs have been criticized for giving medically inaccurate information about the effectiveness and risks associated with birth control and abortion.
"Crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin do not provide any preventative health care — or any health care for that matter — beyond home pregnancy tests or maybe an ultrasound run by volunteers," said Nicole Safar, government relations director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. "They present women with false information, oppose access to birth control and work to shame women who are facing an unintended pregnancy. If Gov. Walker was truly interested in preventing unintended pregnancies — not just promoting his ideological agenda — he would work with Planned Parenthood to enhance access to sex ed, birth control and other preventative health care services. Crisis pregnancy centers are not a solution for women in need of quality health care."
The Carolina Pregnancy Center describes its mission as "helping families with pregnancy related issues, experience more life through Christ!" The center's website says it does not provide, recommend or refer for abortions, but it is "committed to offering accurate information about abortion procedures and risks."
The center's website touts itself as an avenue for "talking to someone you trust — just between us girls," and also promoted a Bible study to help women who have had abortions find "forgiveness, freedom and healing."
The website says that 500,000 women have suffered from "post-abortion syndrome," however, this "syndrome" is not recognized by the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association.
In 2011 and 2012, volunteers for NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin made 14 undercover visits to 10 CPCs throughout the state for an extension of a NARAL Pro-Choice America national investigation. A 2013 Isthmus article took a detailed look at the NARAL study.
The volunteers found that every CPC warned against "post-abortion syndrome" and also advised that emergency contraception ("Plan B" or the "morning-after pill") endangers women's physical and mental health. Nine of the 10 clinics also advised, either in writing or verbally, that birth control increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.
"It's fitting that the same guy who refused to be straight with Wisconsin voters about his position on abortion in 2014 is visiting a crisis pregnancy center," said Jenni Dye, research director for One Wisconsin Now and former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. "The truth is CPCs lie to women and will do or say anything to prevent women from making educated, independent decisions about their reproductive health, just like Gov. Walker will do or say anything to get elected. On issues from abortion to immigration, Walker has proven he can't be trusted."
Dye was referring to Walker's 2014 gubernatorial re-election campaign, during which he at times appeared moderate on the issue of abortion.
In his more than 20 years in politics, Walker has never wavered on his "100 percent pro-life" stance, but he has demonstrated flexibility in the way he frames his position and in the 2014 race, he generally avoided discussing it.
But in the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month and on the campaign trail, Walker has touted signing a 20-week abortion ban into law and boasted that he cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood several years ago, long before the release of a series of undercover videos that has reignited a push at the national level to cut the organization's federal funding.
Five Planned Parenthood health centers have closed in Wisconsin since Walker eliminated state funding for the organization 2011, though none were facilities that provided abortions.
As governor, Walker has signed into law some of the most aggressive abortion restrictions in the nation. A campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.