John Oliver Takes Down 'Manipulative' and 'Coercive' Anti-Abortion Organizations

John Oliver's latest target to get an in-depth takedown was "crisis pregnancy centers"—anti-abortion organizations that masquerade as healthcare providers. Oliver devoted 20 minutes to exposing the tactics of these centers on Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight, which now outnumber legitimate abortion clinics in the United States by nearly double, according to the host. (According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, a non-profit organization that fights for women's rights to have an abortion, there were more than 3,500 CPCs in the U.S. in 2017, compared to the roughly 788 abortion clinics in the U.S. in 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute.)

These centers—often referred to as "CPCs"—keep their mission vague. "CPCs seem happy to have women confuse them for abortion clinics," the host explained. "CPCs can lure women to meet with them on false pretenses—basically they are catfishing them."

The late-night comedian added that CPCs mislead potential visitors via phone calls and Google searches. Often, CPCs build offices or park mobile clinics near abortion clinics, and then try to convince them not to go through with the abortion—sometimes with false statistics, like suggesting that abortions double the risk of breast cancer. (Oliver deems this "bullshit.") Many CPCs also offer free ultrasounds and encourage women to get emotional and cry during the process.

"If that isn't coercive enough, which it comfortably is, clinics have written messages uninvited on the ultrasound like 'Hi Mommy and Daddy,'" Oliver said. "If you're going to write an unrequested ultrasound message, at least be creative about it!"

After he told his audience about CPCs, Oliver brought out Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch to explain his new non-profit organization, Our Lady of Choosing Choice, which offers a mobile crisis pregnancy center called "Vanned Parenthood." (Fans of Oliver will recognize the callback to the church the comedian opened in 2015, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption—a satirical and yet legally recognized church intended to expose and ridicule televangelists whose churches receive tax-exempt status.)

With Our Lady of Choosing Choice—which Oliver filed as a non-profit with the State of New York—Oliver and Dratch demonstrated how real CPCs stop "just short of the line" to avoid being regulated as healthcare providers, and therefore are able to legally spread misinformation—and even receive federal funding.

Dratch took on the identity of "Wanda Jo Oliver," who drives around her Vanned Parenthood van offering "advice" to pregnant women. "I tell women if they get an abortion, it'll make a ghost baby that'll haunt their hoo-ha forever!" Dratch exclaimed.

"This is all perfectly legal and there is absolutely nothing stopping us from parking outside an abortion clinic tonight and haranguing people in the morning," Oliver agreed. "And frankly, there really fucking should be."

Last month, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments to determine if Oliver is right—that these crisis pregnancy centers should be illegal—according to a report from The Cut.