Unmasking Crisis Pregnancy/Pregnancy Resource Centers

Part 2:

Many advocates who are in support of the operation and tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers claim that abortions are a severe threat to a person’s health, so therefore the existence of these centers can only be for the greater good. However, after reading this piece, it is evident that many of the claims these centers make about the negative effects of abortions on cis women’s (though it affects those of other genders too) health are in fact, false. After a nationwide study, there were three large pieces of misinformation that crisis pregnancy centers were giving to their clients consistently. The first of these false claims is that having an abortion will boost their likelihood of developing breast cancer, but this has been disproven by the National Cancer Institute. Secondly, they claim that those who have abortions are likely to experience many different problems with their fertility in the future as a direct result of the abortion. On the contrary, abortions that are performed within a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy do not put her at an increased risk to develop any significant problems with her fertility in the future. Lastly, this organization frequently proclaims that those who have abortions are likely to experience continuous detrimental mental illness that could last throughout their entire lives. Yet no scientific studies have been able to prove that people who have abortions are likely to experience lifelong mental affliction of any sort (Rosen 201-202). All of these false scare tactics make it difficult for people to know which information presented to them is accurate, and can lead to uninformed decisions that they may regret if they ever receive fully comprehensive services. But in a patriarchal and heterosexist culture, it makes sense that these organizations spread such blatant misinformation because the main goal is to control women’s sexuality and bodies, instead of acknowledging the idea that everyone should be given full moral agency over decisions that concern their own psychological and physical health.

One other argument that individuals in favor of crisis pregnancy centers usually use is that they promote good health through abstinence, which they believe is the most effective approach to educate people about sex. In Rosen’s piece, she points out that most centers give out inaccurate information about contraceptives, including condoms and birth control, and urge people not to have sex in order to avoid the necessity of using either. But since young adults are likely to engage in sexual acts anyways, this lack of education and resources puts people at a higher risk of becoming pregnant in the near future, and also increases their likelihood in developing a sexually transmitted disease (202-203). Using a large scope, this lack of access to adequate contraceptives and health information can be frightening, seeing as how it is only increasing the chance of young people contracting diseases and becoming unintentionally pregnant. It’s truly a disservice to young people everywhere, because a person’s innate human worth is substantial enough to warrant that all organizations geared toward reproductive health should have to provide basic resources that allow people to protect themselves from a very real potential harm. If more people were better educated about choices and risks in relation to contraceptives and safe sex through actual credible organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, then it is only logical that issues such as the transmission of diseases and unintended pregnancies would likely occur less and less as time goes on.

The continuous operation of crisis pregnancy centers in the United States, which often use deceit, manipulation, intimidation, and downright misinformation to control folks’ decisions over their own reproductive health, is one of the biggest obstacles in the way to achieving a much better public health initiative which aims to put the reproductive health of all people at the forefront of the cause. The tradition of treating women’s welfare and happiness with no respect or dignity needs to be eradicated in favor of a more feminist mindset that cares about a woman in and of herself, without attributing her value as a person to her decision to bear children or not. Such a progressive idea could have the power to shift a culture to allow everyone the liberty to make their own informed and consensual choices concerning their own bodies and health, giving way to a much more understanding world for all.

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth 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. 

Unmasking Crisis Pregnancy/Pregnancy Resource Centers

Part 1:

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…………

 

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth 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. 

 

(Feminist) Thoughts on the March

Just after the Women’s March on Washington, Carly Puch (one of our own!) wrote on her own blog about her experience participating in the march.

She brings together a thoughtful perspective on the empowering heart of the march, critiques of its unmistakable whiteness, and what both of those things mean for the kind of work we have, as feminists, ahead of us.

Here’s an excerpt…

There are improvements to be made, and particularly we white feminists can do better but what these marches symbolized was that recognition. More women are mobilized because for many it is the first time their rights are truly being threatened, whether that be attributed to their race, their class, their age or any other factor that has allowed them to turn a blind eye to injustice. Human rights campaigns in this country have been built on the backs of people of color, do not silence them, but listen and learn to those who have been fighting before you.

Continue reading here!

The kind of work we have ahead of us must not be forgotten or ignored: it must be thoughtful. We must strive to love each other, build bridges between those of us with vastly different experiances, and act beyond our fear to achieve things which may seem impossible.

What do you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

To Those So Concerned

My flesh is not yours

You cannot control it

 

I do not live to please you

Your actions do not affect me

 

Your jargon is futile

It is not your burden to save me

 

Your comments are complacent

Your aim seeks propriety  

 

You do not understand my pain

So do not force your opium down my throat

 

 

Image: http://culturalconundrums.theblogpress.com/2015/02/04/pro-choice-what-does-it-really-mean/

 

 

mara-martinsonMara Martinson is a freelance editor, creative writer, and graduate student. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from UW-Superior and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Writing at SCSU. She teaches ENGL 191 and in her free time, enjoys writing, reading, knitting, crafting, and spending time with her partner and family. Her creative work has appeared in journals including The Nemadji Review, Kaleidoscope, and The Upper Mississippi Harvest. Mara describes her work for Collective Feminism as feminist, capturing the emotional struggles we face. 

Open Letter to SCSU Community

To the St. Cloud State University campus community:

On March 2, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case that is fundamentally about autonomy, one’s ability to freely determine what is best for their health without interference, and access to the safe, and legal health care that meets individuals’ self-identified needs. This case challenges laws that restrict abortion access under the guise of concern for the health and safety of patients but are truly political ploys to limit the accessibility of abortion care. The outcome of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt affects us all: it will change the realities of abortion access for decades to come: either by finding undue restrictions unlawful, or forcing clinics to shut down, and subsequently, people to seek alternative and unsafe abortion services.

Despite clarity from the Supreme Court that people have a constitutional right to abortion, states continue to pass laws that limit women’s access to abortion care through a variety of tactics, including:

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Special Hugs, STIs, and Stigma

By Andrea Broekemeier

Last week I got to attend the presentation, Best Sex Ever with Laci Green. It was hilarious, informative, and surprisingly blunt. The reactions of the crowd upon seeing a giant vagina and vulva displayed across the screen two minutes into the talk were priceless. It got me thinking about a lot of things, including stuff that has happened in my own life, specifically related to sex education.

My high school wasn’t on the bottom of the list as far as quality sex education goes (we actually learned about birth control and where babies come from), but it was by no means on the top. We were shown all the gross pictures of severe infections, and the message always came down to “don’t have sex,” especially after we looked at how often birth control fails. We even had speakers who were teen mothers come in to talk to the girls about how they used so many kinds of birth control and still got pregnant, thus ruining their social lives. I don’t remember the details on what they taught us about STI’s other than the general feelings of horror at the idea of getting one. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized that STI’s really aren’t all that bad, which Green emphasized when she got to it in her presentation in between talking about masturbation and consent.

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Why We All Need Planned Parenthood: A Non-Snarky Bullet List Edition

by Kate Bennett

You might have seen last week’s post  about the work of activists from the Women’s Center and St. Cloud community to provide public support for Planned Parenthood on national #PinkOut Day, and a link to a snarky but funny article refuting the claims of anti-Choicers about Planned Parenthood, the necessity of sex-positive, comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education, and access to healthcare. As important as it is to laugh and maintain balance, the staff of Collective Feminism wanted to take a moment to address the complex issues affecting the health of millions across the United States in a way that does justice to the important work of Planned Parenthood and the national socio-political landscape around issues of abortion and reproductive choice right now.

So, here we go. “Why We All Need Planned Parenthood: A Non-Snarky Bullet List Edition.”

Continue reading

Support Planned Parenthood Event!

This week some of the Women’s Center staff organized an amazing rally in support of Planned Parenthood during national #PinkOutDay. They had just over a day to plan, and more than 40 students, faculty, and community members came together to support an organization that they believe in. We’re so thrilled!

Here’s a few pictures from the rally along with a link to a satirical post at Ravishly that (hilariously) refutes many of the claims made by anti-choice and anti-Planned Parenthood advocates.

http://www.ravishly.com/2015/09/17/10-reasons-we-should-defund-planned-parenthood-immediately

pp1 pp2 pp3