Abortion Pregnancy Centers


Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception

Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception, Lies, and Misinformation

For the last few days, we’ve been talking a lot about Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC).

If you are pro-life, these CPCs are establishments that seek to offer pregnant women (or non pregnant women, for that matter) information about their options.  The staff people at these centers sit back and wait for the women to come in, they then sit them down in, in a non-judgmental environment, tell them all about adoption, childbirth and abortion.  Yes, their bottom line is that they are against abortion but they really just want to make sure that woman is educated and knows what resources are available to her should she decide to give birth.

If you are pro-choice, these centers lure women into their facility under false pretenses, pretend that they are a medical office by offering ultrasounds and fill the women’s heads with lies about how the perils, both emotional and physical, of this very easy procedure.

Coincidentally, in the wake of our discussions, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate called “Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women’s Service’s Act.”  In their press release, the authors of the bills brought attention to the bill’s clever acronym:   SDAWS.

Just kinda rolls off the tip of your tongue, doesn’t it?

If the bill became law, the Federal Trade Commission would be required to issues rules declaring that it is an “unfair or deceptive act” for a CPC to advertise that they are “a provider of abortion services.”  The pro-choice groups are understandably elated and energized.  One leader applauded the initiative and said “we should all agree that a woman should not be misled or manipulated when she’s facing an unintended pregnancy.”   The troops are gearing up to storm the Congress to get this important legislation passed.

Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception, Lies, and Misinformation

Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception, Lies, and Misinformation

My initial reaction is that this is an incredible waste of time.

Now, I admit that I have not done a full-fledged review of every CPC in the country, but I would bet that house that hardly any of them actually advertise that they “provide abortion services.”   I mean, c’mon, even the sleaziest CPC staff person would never, with a straight face, say that.  And if anyone can show me differently, I totally welcome the evidence and will offer a mea culpa.

Sure, many of them, if not most, say that they provide “abortion information,” but, technically, that is true.  They do offer “information” on abortion, albeit in many cases it is the wrong information.  But it is “information” nonetheless.

So, to me, the big question is:  why are these pro-choice Members of Congress and the pro-choice groups spending time and resources on trying to pass a bill that – in the unlikely event that it becomes law – will have practically NO impact?  And, for argument’s sake, let’s say the FTC does find a totally whacky CPC director who says in their Yellow Page ad that they provide abortion services.  The FTC will theoretically bring some kind of action against them and chances are that that CPC will just agree to not say it in the future.  And if they refuse to change their ways, maybe they’ll be shut down.  Well, that leaves only THOUSANDS of more CPCs to go after!   Way to go folks!

I certainly appreciate the energy of the authors of these bills and I am sure they will now get a nice donation from the pro-choice political action committees because they have shown they are pro-choice “leaders.”  Meanwhile, they’ve issued their press releases and are getting some attention on pro-choice blogs, websites, etc.

But, in the long run, ain’t nothing gonna change.

And around and around we go….

The Wichita Divide

Hyperbole.

I always liked that word, although it was years before I understood its meaning.  And, of course, like most Americans I always mispronounced it by saying “Hyper Bowl.”

Speaking of…yesterday, a friend of mine told me about yet another book on abortion called “The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by one Stephen Singular.  I will admit right up front that I have not read the book in its entirety and probably never will.   Immersed in the issue for years, I never read any of the books about abortion except – to be honest – to go to the index to see if I was mentioned.

So, I may be totally misrepresenting Mr. Singular’s thesis but the gist is that the city of Wichita and the state of Kansas are now hotbeds in the battle over abortion rights.  Actually, he refers to these spots as the hosts in a new “war.”  Other authors and columnists also commonly refer to the current state of the battle over abortion rights as a “war.”

Hyperbole.

I will admit that there may have been some semblance of a “war” in the 1980’s and 1990’s when abortion clinics were being bombed and abortion doctors were being stalked, threatened, attacked and killed.  It was domestic terrorism, pure and simple – and I was in the middle of it.  But I put the word “war” in quotes because, to me, a war is when two sides are engaged in the battle.  In that case, the bombs were being planted and the shots were being fired by one side only.  Yes, to be fair, the attacks were coming from a violent fringe of the anti-abortion movement, but it was a one-sided assault nonetheless.   We never shot back.

But, to define today’s situation in Wichita or the nation as a “war” is laughable.  Nationally, although there are some exceptions, the average abortion clinic no longer has to deal with anti-abortion protestors.  If they do, it’s usually a handful of octogenarians who barely have enough energy to yell “Don’t Kill Your Baby!”   After taking their morning medication, these “warriors” will grab their twenty year old sign, take the bus out to the clinic and, depending on the weather, stand out front in a pathetic effort to “save babies.”  Of course, the

y rarely succeed.  It’s actually a sorry scene compared to years ago when anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue could conger up hundreds of people at a moment’s notice to block access to a clinic.  Protestors were regularly arrested and sent to jail.  On the other hand, I’ll bet you that not more than 10 people have been arrested in the last few years for blocking access to an abortion clinic.  At the same time, folks like Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, Joe Scheidler and Pat Mahoney have virtually disappeared.  In fact, here is a question for you:   can you name one national anti-abortion leader?

On the other side of the coin, the abortion clinic escort movement, which helped many women get through the crowds of pro-lifers, has also virtually disappeared.  Of course, that is good news in that there is no great need for these courageous folks who volunteered their time to help women obtain an abortion.

I have no doubt that another doctor will ultimately get killed, a clinic will be vandalized, and some staffer will one night get a death threat.  But – and I don’t mean to sound cavalier about this – this is part of the territory.  When a person signs up to work in an abortion clinic, they understand the risks.  It’s the same for a firefighter or a policeman.

But, despite the occasional incident carried out by some bored pro-lifer, for the life of me I cannot fathom how anyone can suggest that there is some kind of “war” in Wichita or anywhere else over the abortion issue.    It might sell a book or two, but it’s a totally silly suggestion.

Hyperbole.

Candidate's Speech

The candidate walks into the jam-packed auditorium at Calvin Coolidge High School.  The district he seeks to represent has elected both Republicans and Democrats.  The residents are independent thinkers who are very serious about the social issues of the day.  As the candidate strides up to the podium, he looks over the crowd and sees a number of pro-life and pro-choice signs.  It seems evenly divided.  Personally, the candidate believes abortion should be legal but has some concerns about its usage.  He is truly in the middle somewhere.  But the conventional wisdom says that the candidate should just put their lot into one of the camps and stick with that position.  This candidate is different and tonight his goal is to defy that conventional wisdom by appealing to the activists on both sides:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  I’ve been asked to give you my views on the abortion issue tonight.  Generally it is not an assignment that the average candidate looks forward to but I guess I’m a little different.  I’ve actually been excited about this prospect.

Let me start by saying that I respect those of you who are pro-life and those of you who are pro-choice.  This is probably the most controversial issue of our time and I honestly believe that all of you are well- intentioned.   Unfortunately, the media loves to focus on the negative, so they will cover the extremists on both sides.  That is not fair because I firmly believe that the average activist comes from a good place, has deep- seeded convictions and is not shy about expressing them.  Indeed, I applaud you all for standing up for what you believe.

Now, I’m gonna be straight with you.  I’m not the typical politician who tries to have it both ways.  You deserve to know where I stand.

I believe abortion must remain legal in this country.  To me, it is a matter of a woman’s health.  I am a great student of history and, as everyone knows, before abortion was legalized in this country, many women were dying from botched, unsafe back alley abortions or were being severely harmed.   We can all quibble about how many women we’re talking about but, for me, the numbers don’t matter.   Women will always seek out abortions and, if that is the case, then I prefer they be safe.

At the same time, however, I think the pro-choice folks need to fess up.  Abortion is a form of killing.  A woman sitting in the abortion clinic waiting room has something – and you can decide what you want to call that something – in her body.  It is something that, if not aborted, will ultimately become a child.  It is a living organism.  Indeed, if it was a wanted pregnancy, we would be calling it a “baby” from day one.  Then, when the woman leaves the clinic, that organism is no longer alive.  To me, that is “killing.”  It’s a sad process, one that no one wants to experience.   It’s a very sad fact of life.

Sides of the Issue

But here’s the good news.  The number of abortions in this country is decreasing.  It’s hard to say what is causing that trend, but I would like to give credit to both sides of the issue.  For example, the pro-choice folks like to emphasize birth control education.  The pro-lifers hope to “protect” women by pointing out how some women ultimately regret their abortions.  Whatever the reason, the number is going down and that is a good thing.

Now, although I support abortion, I am very concerned that some women might be getting later terms abortions for less than compelling reasons.   That’s why I would support banning third trimester abortions unless the woman’s life was endangered or if there was a possibility of her experiencing severe health consequences.   I don’t think a woman should have an abortion at that stage for some less-than-serious reason.

I will add that I can support the work of so-called crisis pregnancy centers as long as they are totally candid up front about their opposition to abortion.  If a woman clearly understands that she is basically going into a pro-life center andshe still wants to talk to them, then go for it.  I have no problem with that.   In addition, I will vigorously support the right of pro-life activists to protest in front of a clinic.   That is the essence of the First Amendment.

Although I support legal abortion, I am torn about the use of taxpayer’s dollars for abortions.   I understand how the pro-lifers don’t want their tax dollars used to fund something that they find morally objectionable and they have all the right in the world to try to pass laws restricting the use of those dollars.  Indeed, in my earlier days I supported efforts to de-fund the Vietnam War.   On the other hand, I am troubled by the thought of a woman on welfare with four children not being able to use her Medicaid card for an abortion because it means we all will be paying more money to help her raise yet another (unwanted) child.    It’s a tough one for me and I would like to sit down with representatives on both sides of that issue.

Abortion is not a black and white issue to me.  It is very, very complicated.  In the meantime, however, if I am elected to Congress I will work hard to make it easier for couples to adopt, I will support using federal dollars for contraceptives.   I will support any educational effort that has the same goal as we all do – to eliminate the need for abortion in this country.  I ask you all to consider supporting me.  I support legal abortion but I will work as hard as anybody to eliminate the need for it.

Thank you very much.

Okay, I know this is gonna sound corny but I really would like to take this time to give “thanks” to a few people who I believe have made significant contributions to the fight for reproductive rights.

Ellie Smeal

ELLIE SMEAL:  For as long as I can remember, Ellie has been the head of the Feminist Majority Foundation.  For many years before we met, she was an outspoken leader for the Equal Rights Amendment but at some point she segued over to the abortion rights cause.  For a woman with so much inf

luence in the halls of Congress and in the White House, Ellie is one of the most unassuming people I have ever met.  Years ago, when the anti-abortion terrorists started blowing up clinics and shooting our doctors, it was Ellie and her Foundation that stepped up to provide security for the abortion clinics.  She was the one who arranged security briefings at the Department of Justice and spent a lot of money to protect the providers in the field.  She was not always successful in her efforts, but she never stopped trying.

SENATOR BOB PACKWOOD:  Okay, before you say it, I know Packwood was kind of a sleaze ball.  I

Senator Bob Packwood

remember as well as anyone the sexual harassment, the womanizing and all of the other stuff.  But, I have to say that before the allegations came to light Bob Packwood was always there for the pro-choice movement.  He was our leader, no doubt about it.  He was one of the first elected officials to go out there and say the frigging “A” word.  He led the filibuster against the proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned abortion.  Indeed, I remember how he actually pissed some other pro-choice Senators off because he wanted to be the ONLY Senator out there engaging in the filibuster.  Such was his ego.  Ultimately, under his leadership we sounded defeated the constitutional amendment.

DOCTOR GEORGE TILLER:  So much has been said about the late George Tiller.  Let me just say that he was a man of his convictions.  He did not hide, he spoke honestly about his work, he vigorously defended the right of a woman to obtain a late term abortion.  He was a politically savvy physician who contributed thousands and thousands of dollars to help elect pro-choice candidates.  He supported the national organizations that supported the abortion providers.  He was our leader – plain and simple.

DAVID GUNN, JR:  After his father, Doctor David Gunn, was assassinated as he approached his abortion clinic in Pensacola, David Gunn Jr. burst onto the national scene.  Many people in the abortion provider community did not know his father, but we all quickly “adopted” David, Jr.   The first time that most people saw him was when he appeared on “The Donohue Show” just a week after the murder.   Millions of people came to admire the young man who sat on the stage stoically while he listened to Mr. Paul Hill suggest that his father’s murder was “justifiable homicide.”  After that appearance, David went on a speaking tour (despite struggling with an obvious stutter) and raised money for a number of abortion provider organizations.  At one point, he even offered to have his photo taken to be used in a full page New York Times ad to raise money for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.  Over the years, David and I became good friends but today I have no idea where David is.

THE NOVEMBER GANG:  This small “support group” of abortion rights activists took me under their wing when I joined the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.  For years, they served as my moral compass and my political conscience, both professionally and personally.   I was able to let my hair down with these folks and got through some very rough times because of them.   Many thanks to Renee, Charlotte, Claire, Peg and the others…..

Finally, thanks to my spouse and my two boys for putting up with all of the “stuff” that they had to endure when I was out there representing the abortion provider cause.  You have no idea what they went through over those years.

Capitol Hill Hallway

When I was the chief lobbyist for the National Abortion Rights Action League in the early 1980’s, I had absolutely no contact with abortion clinics.  Some people might find that ironic, but the fact was that I spent most of my time roaming the halls of Capitol Hill trying to stop legislative attacks on the right to abortion.  I never talked about the actual abortion procedure.  Abortion providers and their world were totally foreign to me. I just devoted my time to trying to preserve Roe v Wade and the constitutional right to privacy.

But like most Americans, I had a vision in my mind about what those abortion clinics looked like and how they operated.  It was not a nice vision because in some ways I had bought into the anti-abortion propaganda about the “abortion mills.”  And there was no one to rebut their claims as the clinics had no lobbyists, no public relations person.

Years later, when I joined the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, I realized that I had to get out there and visit the abortion clinics. So, I started making phone calls, asking the owners or administrators if they would mind if I came to their clinic for a visit. I expected to get mostly negative reactions, figuring they wouldn’t want me to see their clinics but the reaction was just the opposite.  Instead, people were thrilled that anyone from the “outside world” would want to see their facility.  They welcomed me with open arms.

The first abortion clinic I ever stepped into was the Raleigh Women’s Health Organization, a facility that was operated by my dear friend, Susan Hill.  I drove down on a Monday morning, met her at her house and we drove together to her clinic.  I was first struck when we pulled into a beautiful business park.  For some reason,  I had been prepared to wind up in the slums of Raleigh.  Instead, we turned a corner and I say a beautiful free-standing building surrounded by a number of mature oak trees and a sprawling green lawn.  And right out front, showing they had nothing to hide, was a sign saying “Raleigh Women’s Health Organization.”

We went through the front door and I lost my breath.  In the reception area were about 15 women sitting together.  The room was pristine with sunlight coming through the skylights and there was a whiff of lavender in the air.  I then noticed several fresh Iris plants in tall vases.  Classical music was being piped in through the facility.  I was stunned – and embarrassed because I had been expecting something much worse.

We went back to the staff room for some coffee, then Susan introduced me to her two (surprisingly)

Waiting Room

young doctors.  They were not the sleazeball “abortionists” that I had envisioned.  They were Ob-Gyns with diplomas from the top medical schools and what came across during our conversation was how proud they were of the work they were performing. The rest of the staff had the same positive attitude.  For a place that was hosting women in less than ideal circumstances, the clinic was a surprisingly upbeat place.

Later on, when most of the patients were done with their procedure, Susan escorted me into the recovery room.  There were about 10 women resting in warm, fuzzy reclining chairs with warm, fuzzy afghans.  They were sipping some kind of tea and eating cookies.  I was surprised that some were talking to each other.  I’m not saying that they were having a downright party but it was nothing like I had expected.

When it was time for me to leave, I said goodbye to the staff and thanked them for all the great work they were performing.   Then I walked outside and saw my first anti-abortion protestors.  They had apparently come just after I entered the clinic (which I never understood because they had missed their chance to harass the women as they came into the facility).  There were about thirty of them, all men, holding very ugly signs and screaming at me.  There was no way they could have known who I was but they probably just assumed I was associated with the clinic.

At that very moment, I actually felt my first surge of pride as the representative for the clinics.  I was emboldened and anxious to go back to Washington, D.C. to represent the staff at the Raleigh Women’s Health Organization and the hundreds of other clinics like them across the country.

I learned that day that abortion facilities were mere medical offices but with a special touch.  I learned that the anti-abortion propaganda that I had been listening to for years was just that – propaganda.  And I learned that the real “ugliness” in the abortion field was outside the clinic, not inside.

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