Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't Go to a Crisis Pregnancy Center

In 1994, while I was still attempting to find a meaningful life as a member of a conservative
christian church in Lawton, Oklahoma, the town opened its first Crisis Pregnancy Center (now called the Pregnancy Resource Center).  I was among the first group of volunteers trained to work in that center. I spent many hours with my fellow volunteers trying to lure women into the center with the promise of free pregnancy tests, adoption and abortion information.  Except the only abortion information we gave out was about the risks and negative effects of abortion.  We would never, ever tell you how to get an abortion or refer you to anyplace that performed them.

This crisis pregnancy center, and lets face it, ALL crisis pregnancy centers, they have only two main goals.  First, to convince you not to have an abortion and second, to convince you that you need to accept Jesus Christ as your savior and become a Christian.  Everything else they give out or claim to provide is ONLY to further those two ends. 

So, I and my fellow volunteers spent literally hours practicing and role playing EXACTLY the words they wanted us to say to avoid legal liability and mislead women. We were supposed to supply what we called "self-administered pregnancy tests" because reading the test and telling a woman she was pregnant was considered medical diagnosis, so we showed the test, explained how to perform the test and how to interpret the results, then allowed the woman to perform the test herself.  She then had to mark a form herself that stated she herself had observed the test to have a positive or negative result. 

If she had a positive test, we urged her to confirm the test with a visit to a physician.  But first, we'd sit down and let her talk about her feelings about the pregnancy and asked her what she thought she wanted to do about it.  If she showed interest in abortion, or asked for information about where o get an abortion, we were to talk with her about the risk she was taking by having one.  We were to show her pictures of unborn fetuses at her stage of development, and we were to emphasize that the baby was a thinking, feeling individual who would feel the pain of an abortion (even though there is no scientific proof that this is the case).  I was particularly suited to this work because I was a Certified Childbirth Educator and also taught free childbirth classes to the women who intended to keep their babies. 

We were also to talk to them about Post Abortion Syndrome and how there was a big chance they would get this condition if they had an abortion.  Never mind that The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association do not recognize that this syndrome is a real condition. A symptom of Post Abortion Syndrome is supposed to be a feeling of regret after having an abortion.  Never mind that a recent study from the University of California found that 90% of women who have an abortion report that they feel they made the right decision.  Of course, the majority of women who have abortions wish they didn't have to do it, but that does not mean they have some make believe disease.  Don't believe them when they tell you this.  Post Abortion Syndrome is not a real psychological condition. 

In 1987 Ronald Reagan asked then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to write a report about the effect of abortion on women. Koop, who made no secret of his dislike for abortion, was unable to find any unbiased, rigorous scientific studies that could support an anti-choice position. 

As Crisis Pregnancy Center volunteers, we were instructed to explain the "Plan of Salvation" to every single person that came in for information.  If I was seeing a woman alone, I very often did not perform this particular part of the plan because I found it so distasteful.  If another volunteer was sitting in with me as I talked with a mother, I tried to work it in but almost always found a way to ask the other volunteer to go out of the room to get something so I could finish up alone and then I would tell the other volunteer I had explained it to her and she had declined the invitation. I saw this part of the service as deceptive, offering a woman something she wants in a time of stress just so we can get her as a captive audience and force her to listen to a conversion talk. It's the same reason that churches offer free programs open to the community, just so they can get you in their building and preach to you about how lost you are.  Don't fall for the bait. 

They also provide information for teenagers, but its only information on abstinence, no information about birth control at all.  It's a fact that states where birth control is freely available have much lower teen pregnancy rates and abortion rates.  So if they want to lower these rates, they should be providing accurate sex education for teens including contraceptive information. Teens, you have a right to be sexually active and to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease, despite what adults may tell you. 

This week Google has decided that search results for "where to get an abortion" will soon stop directing women to crisis pregnancy centers who want to shame women out of getting an abortion.  That's at least some progress. 

I no longer attend a christian church because most of the things they teach and claim can't be substantiated scientifically and are simply a matter of opinion.  You aren't lost or broken and don't need to be fixed.  You are not a bad person for having an abortion.  You definitely don't need to involve them in your pregnancy. I have seen first hand the heartache that women went through when they were talked into keeping their babies by the crisis pregnancy center.  And, you do not need Jesus Christ or any religion to live a happy, productive, meaningful life. 

If you want information or help, I'd rather you contacted me than a crisis pregnancy center. I won't try to convert you or give you false information. If you want to keep your baby, I'll try to help you find the resources to do so.  If you want an abortion, we'll find a way for you to get one.  It's as simple as that.  The bottom line is, every woman should have a right to choose. 


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Copyright 2015  By Judie Ingram McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living