Through my experience as an employee at SCSU’s Women’s Center, I have become much more aware of issues that meddle with women’s (and folks of other genders’) rights all over the nation. An issue at the forefront of my mind is the operation of crisis pregnancy centers (aka pregnancy resource centers) in the United States, which often use deceit, manipulation, intimidation, and downright misinformation to control people’s decisions over their own reproductive health. Therefore, in order to protect reproductive freedom and well-being, it is essential that crisis pregnancy centers be seen for how they really are and not be allowed to continue to operate in this manner in the U.S., and instead allocate more attention to encouraging people to visit comprehensive women’s health centers throughout the country.
One of the primary reasons that crisis pregnancy centers should not be allowed to continue operating in the United States is that they blatantly abuse their right to freedom of speech in order to deceive and manipulate those in crisis situations to not receive any sort of abortions, even if it goes against what the woman wants. According to a piece by researcher Kathryn E. Gilbert, a crisis pregnancy center located in Manhattan in New York City used extremely deceptive tactics to prevent one woman from having an abortion by telling her that she needed to keep coming in for additional ultrasounds, and by the time the woman was able to see an actual physician, she was too far along in her pregnancy to terminate. This is clearly a threat to reproductive rights all across the country because even though this woman was looking to have a safe and legal abortion, she was sneakily persuaded against doing so without her informed consent. However, these anti-choice organizations have been able to legally use these strategies based on their claim that being forced to use only factual and straightforward methods would inhibit their right to freedom of speech. And, as a noncommercial entity, the courts have omitted the questionable behavior of this organization as acceptable. But this omission of injustice to healthcare only perpetuates the severity of the situation, seeing as how the organization’s keen awareness of this loophole only strengthens their cause to restrict people’s control over their own bodies (Gilbert 3-4).
Another reason in affirmation of the assertion that crisis pregnancy centers are a threat to reproductive health and freedom is the fact that they use disingenuous advertising and phone calls to lure folks into their locations. As cited by NARAL Pro-Choice America in their document titled, “The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” one of the main ways that these centers falsely advertise is by seeking reproductive health services and listing themselves in phone books and online databases under “abortion” and “abortion services,” even though the organization does not offer any form of abortion procedures at their locations (2). Consequently, many folks seeking full abortion services find the crisis pregnancy center when they believe they are at a reputable service. This is in direct violation of their assertion that they are a proper organization, seeing as how they don’t actually care about the pregnant person’s well-being, otherwise they would offer fully comprehensive reproductive services, instead of secretly advocating their anti-choice agenda which only aims to protect the fetus, not the one carrying the fetus. The volunteers and employees at these centers are no better at handling phone calls, because when someone calls they are advised to do whatever it takes to convince that person to make an appointment so that they can continue to feed them empty answers and false information in person (3). Clearly, this is not a sound method because it attempts to act as a moral agent, restricting people’s decisions over their own pregnancies. If our judicial system were to properly recognize these unprofessional occurrences and reprimand offenders, the likelihood that these situations would continue happening would decrease.
An additional reason as to how the crisis pregnancy centers located throughout the U.S. infringe upon reproductive freedoms and should therefore be put under close surveillance and potentially closed down is that they use intimidation tactics to take advantage of people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. In one situation, as noted by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a father took his teenage daughter to a crisis pregnancy center to help her with her crisis pregnancy, but instead his daughter was only inflicted with psychological harm. After being shown “brutal footage” including pictures of dismembered fetuses, the man claimed that, “they just emotionally raped her. . . . They are advocates for the unborn, and to hell with the troubled person. They had an ax to grind, and just terrorized her”’ (6). With that instance in mind, it is clear that these centers prey on people in extremely vulnerable predicaments and exploit them for their own interest, namely the religiously backed anti-choice movement.
…………..Tune in on Thursday for Part 2…………
Ruth Sybil Virginia May is a junior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film Studies. Ruth is a genderqueer trans woman from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes.