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Sex, Lies, and CPCs

August 13, 2010

In my work as an organizer I confront misinformation about abortion care every single day; I know the facts, I’ve read the research, and I make it a point to be correct when I speak, because what does it say about the credibility of the work that I do if I’m not?

So, you can imagine my reaction to Anne, the woman who runs the crisis pregnancy center (CPC) featured in HBO’s newest documentary “12th and Delaware”.  Anne lives in a fantasy land where women who obtain abortions are exposed to higher risks of breast cancer and a life of infertility. She apparently also lives on the hope that having an unwanted child will stop the behavior of a woman’s abusive partner. Also, in this fantasy land I’m pretty sure pigs fly, hell has frozen over, and women listen to everything they are instructed to do, rather than thinking for themselves.

If you haven’t seen the documentary it focuses on a street in Fort Pierce, Florida. On one side is, A Woman’s World, a comprehensive center that provides abortion care. On the other is, the Pregnancy Care Center, a CPC that provides free pregnancy testing and biased counseling.  It’s supporters also regularly protest outside of the abortion center, and at one point they persuade a woman to go to the CPC instead by offering (what are, I can only assume, empty) promises of financial aid, and clothing for her other children.

Throughout the documentary I continually felt a mix of disgust, despair, and helplessness.  The women featured in the documentary were often confused and vulnerable; they sought advice and counsel about their unintended pregnancies.  What they got from Anne was a one-sided manipulative agenda.  It was clear that she did not care about the health and well being of these women, she only cared that they did not exercise their legal right to abort.

At one point a woman who initially went to the Pregnancy Care Center just a few days before enters A Woman’s World.  She tells the owner that they told her she was about 7 weeks pregnant. After tests and an ultrasound, Candace, who runs A Woman’s World, informs the patient that she is in fact 10 weeks pregnant.  After the patient books her appointment and leaves, Candace admits that the abortion providers in the area only perform abortions up until 12 or 13 weeks.  She confides that they must have lied to the patient so that by the time she finally decided to whether or not abort, it would have been too late.

The anti-choice community loves to tout the phrase, “abortion hurts women.”  Can the pro-choice community adopt phrases like, “lies hurt women” or “coerced pregnancy hurts women” and go hold signs outside of the CPCs?  Can we plead with the women entering these centers that they have options, that abortion isn’t dangerous, and that we can help them with whatever decision it is that they decide to make?  Would it do any good? I’m not sure, but at least then they might have the truth.

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