Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Thou Shalt Not Lie
These anti-abortion activists lure clients in by posing as medical facilities--but local ordinances can force them to tell the truth or close
I subscribe to several dozen newsletters, newspapers, and local news sites to keep up. But in the coming weeks, I will lift some of those finds out of the short takes section, highlighting local news stories that can teach us how communities are responding to challenges from a newly aggressive right. I am starting with my own community—but please, send your own local news to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in this new content stream. And if you know someone who would be interested in today’s story, please:
The shift in momentum towards the anti-abortion forces has been swift and destabilizing. Furthermore, our political culture can encourage us to focus on political retaliation and political struggle on the macro-level. Rebalancing the Supreme Court through impeachment and court packing, or winning a filibuster-proof Senate, are certainly ways of addressing the collapse of civil rights, but are they the most desirable response? Are they possible within a reasonable timeframe? Do we want a Supreme Court that can be changed out and manipulated because the party in power wants a rubber stamp on its policies?
As important is the sense of despair many liberals and progressives feel when we throw our collective weight behind gambits and activism that are unlikely to yield tangible success.
But here’s another idea. What if we all looked at how we could support reproductive rights in our own communities—and not just support, but defend our neighbors against anti-choice institution building?
For example, is there an establishment in your community pretending to offer medical services to pregnant women who lack resources, otherwise known as a “crisis pregnancy center” or “pregnancy resource center”? Earlier this summer, I published an interview with Jennifer Holland, a historian of the anti-abortion movement, who pointed out that these volunteer-run Christian organizations are crucial institutions anti-abortion activism. Luring women in (no, they are not serving trans people or men/people who can become pregnant, for reasons that will shortly become obvious) with the promise of medical care, CPCs offer a few medicalized procedures—a pregnancy test and perhaps an ultrasound—and focus on persuading someone who wouldn’t be there if she could afford to have a child to carry the pregnancy to term. The ultrasound is generally used, not as a diagnostic tool, but as a visual aid to personalize the woman’s relationship with her “baby”.
CPCs are everywhere. I recently learned that in my own state, Massachusetts, there are ten clinics statewide that offer full reproductive health services, including abortion counseling and abortion, and 30 crisis pregnancy centers that deliver little or no medical care and minimal forms of material support if a woman agrees to carry the pregnancy to term. And we need to say woman, because that support—mentoring, and baby supplies once a child is born—are predicated on functioning in a Christian environment that is unfriendly (to say the least) to LGBTQ identities.
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