Watchdog Asks State Attorneys General to Investigate Crisis Pregnancy Centers for Deceptive Practices


Contact: Michael Clauw,, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a non-profit watchdog group, filed a series complaints highlighting deceptive practices of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) affiliated with Heartbeat International and Care Net—anti-choice organizations that intentionally target women searching for legitimate abortion care providers to “save babies” from abortion. The complaints—sent to the attorneys general of Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington—allege CPCs in their states appear to violate consumer protection laws by telling clients their personal health information (PHI) is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—a law both Care Net and Heartbeat have acknowledged does not apply to the vast majority of these centers.

CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Tricking consumers into believing their sensitive health information will be kept confidential by claiming it is HIPAA covered when it is not, isn’t just despicable, it’s deceptive and likely violates state consumer protection laws prohibiting deceptive marketing. Attorneys general should not hesitate to take on those who prey on women with disingenuous claims of confidentiality.”

Read CfA’s Complaints to:

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Plakin

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry

Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson

Although HIPAA is relatively narrow in protecting the electronic transmission of health information for the purpose of medical billing, it has become consumer shorthand for confidentiality of medical data. CPCs in all five states where CfA filed complaints appear to exploit this misconception, peppering their websites with privacy assurances invoking HIPAA. Several of these CPCs even provide clients with instructions for filing a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services if they feel their data has been misused, asserting clients have legal recourse that is not, in fact, available.

It is also unclear whether and to what extent these CPCs share the data they collect. When several senators sent a letter to Heartbeat International asking for information about its data practices, through counsel, the organization declined to explain how and with whom it shares client data. The potential distribution of pregnancy-related data is especially relevant in the wake of the Dobbs decision, with new state laws criminalizing abortion and enacting travel bans.

Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “No one should have to worry about their personal health information falling into the hands of anyone who might seek to use that information against them. Consumers have the right to know exactly how their sensitive data will be used before they share it.”

Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.