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The abortion industry has again declared war on pregnancy help centers. NARAL has sent a how-to manual, “Unmasking Fake Clinics”, to its activists advising how to do this. We’ve been here before, about two decades ago. A few hard lessons were learned back then, so it behooves us to look once again at the activities of this crucially important two-thirds of the pro-life movement.
Back then, the major lesson learned was for the staff of the pregnancy help center to never lie – always tell the truth. A very few had lied and when asked if they did abortions, they fibbed and said yes. They did this in order to bring the girl into the center where they could hopefully counsel her otherwise. However, a few of these clients turned out to have hidden cameras and microphones, and these centers ended up in court.
Sadly, at least from my observation, in some areas there was an over-reaction to this. Of course, counselors should not lie to a client who asks, but that doesn’t mean you have to literally post a sign outside your door saying you don’t do abortions. If you’re too quick and too upfront, saying you don’t do abortions, you definitely lose babies. If a client asks if you do abortions, you can simply try to avoid the question and ask another, such as, ‘have you had a pregnancy test?’ Often enough, she may not pursue her first question and may come in anyway, at which time you have a chance to educate her.
But if, right upfront you routinely tell her, before she even asks, that you don’t do abortions, rest assured you’re chasing a significant number of pregnant women away.
Perhaps this over-reaction at least partly explains why some centers don’t save many babies. True, if one center saves only one baby a year, that’s worth the entire effort, but some centers could be saving more. Centers who’ve adopted too strict a policy have ended up spending most of their time supplying women with clothing, diapers, etc. That’s good, but that’s not the prime reason these centers exist.
Before we look, however, let me reveal my bias. I believe pregnancy help centers exist primarily to save babies and to help the women. I believe, and warmly endorse, that as a result of the tender loving care given to women, oft times a question of Divine forgiveness manifests itself, and a resourceful counselor can open the door to prayer, and possibly even bring that person to Christ. I believe, however, that if these two efforts are reversed, that we sometimes fail in the first, and even more frequently fail in the second.
The pregnancy help center movement started with a single center in Toronto in the late ’60s. Then centers sprang up, dotted around the US and Canada through the ’70s. Since then, they have had a steady exponential growth. Today, if you count all pro-life church and independent counseling offices and centers, there are about 4,000 such in the US alone, and an equal number, per population, across Canada. Furthermore, these have grown in size, competence and sophistication. Recently, many larger ones have turned into actual medical clinics, supervised by physicians, with nurses available. These, especially those with ultrasound have seen their “saves” sharply increase. Overall, CPCs are more effective, save more babies and help more women every year.
This is not just a pro-life observation. It is also confirmed by the NARAL Guide which states: “Evidence of the strength of the CPC (crisis pregnancy center) movement is drawn, not only from their growing numbers and connection with anti-choice organizations, but also from their enhanced credibility.” Clearly, these centers are presenting a greater and greater threat to the pro-abortion movement. The final evidence of this is NARAL’s recently initiated, aggressive campaign to try to discredit them.
While their real goal is to reduce the number and effectiveness of our centers, NARAL describes its mission as an effort to unmask “fake clinics”. They have developed strategy, charts, time lines and a sequence of action (NARAL Guide, p. 36-40).
They will conduct a negative public relations campaign, including: letters to the editor; a negative fact sheet about pregnancy centers; a petition requesting certain actions being taken against CPC’s; running a phone bank; distributing negative flyers; posters; generating press releases; holding news conferences; conducting certain public events to garner news attention; meeting with editorial boards; broadcasting public service announcements; generating interviews with sympathetic reporters; and the list goes on.
A sample flier on their web site alerts us. Its bold title says: “BEWARE. Deceptive Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are In Your Neighborhood.” Under this, it lists their fake charges. Anyone can scrutinize NARAL on-line, which presents a grossly distorted picture, at http://www.naral.org/mediaresources/fact/crisis pregnancy.html, e.g., “Many of these centers claim to provide a full range of reproductive options, including abortion. Instead, these deceptive centers use anti-abortion propaganda, misinformation and intimidation to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose.”
They rehash a number of tired old charges. Specifically, they quote the Pearson Foundation which published a guide about 20 years ago. In their zeal to help women, they over-reached a bit, legally, and were cut down by lawsuits. That is not happening anymore. However, NARAL digs the Pearson story up on almost every page of their guide, and readers are led to believe that this is still used.
“CPCs use misleading advertising.” You can easily answer this.
“CPCs use neutral names that do not indicate their anti-abortion position.”
“CPCs establish themselves near legitimate women’s reproductive health care clinics that provide abortions.” We applaud this.
“CPCs answer questions with evasion and lies.” Our people do not lie. Some centers got into trouble when they did. Abortion mills do lie.
“Women are subjected to anti-abortion propaganda (true), misinformation and intimidation.” (not true).
“CPCs are made to look like medical facilities (true, sometimes), but are staffed by non-medical personnel.” In many centers there is a physician in charge. Smaller centers do not offer medical care.
“CPCs subject women to disturbing and misleading anti-abortion films and slideshows.” Coercion? No! Educational films are offered, but no woman is forced to watch, and if she decides that she doesn’t want to see more, she can turn it off and leave.
“Provide women with anti-abortion counseling.” Correct.
They call post-abortion syndrome a “medically unrecognized condition,” and then tell many old stories, many apocryphal.
So what to do?
Pregnancy help centers must continue to do their wonderful work. If done properly, conscientiously, you will not be in trouble. There is a 28-page publication of several major pro-life groups which can be obtained from the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) at PO Box 42060, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. Phone 540.785.9853 or www.nifla.org
CPCs should also have local legal and medical supervision. All clients should be treated equally and with respect, including any “plants” or spies, but by all means report any plants to your board and to the NIFLA office.
Their attack confirms what these centers have been achieving. They have saved hundreds of thousands of babies and helped their mothers. Keep it up. May your mission continue to expand.