Crisis pregnancy centers are increasingly relevant to our discussions of abortion access. These days, Pro-Life protesters find it more effective to hold signs saying, “Need Help? Come to our Crisis Pregnancy Center,” instead of “DIE YOU BABY KILLER.” (Good call, Pro-Lifers.) The problem with the Pro-Life offer of “help” is that these so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers are not really what they appear to be.
While many claim to offer psychological counseling services, they rarely have medical professionals on staff. They use the rhetoric of choice (words like “options” and “choices”) but exist to convince vulnerable women to continue their unplanned, and often unwanted, pregnancies. They are happy to downplay the hard realities and difficulties of parenthood, adoption, and carrying a pregnancy to term. They are also happy to give out misinformation, like that abortion causes breast cancer (it doesn’t) or post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues (it doesn’t). As Emily Kadar wrote, “Women and girls visit CPCs at the beginning of an unplanned pregnancy, one of the most vulnerable states in which one could be, and they are given false information and limited choices. And it angers me.”
So, I was excited to see a post on Feministing asking the question “What would a feminist crisis pregnancy center look like?” The author shared one vision, which you should take a second to check out. Back? Okay.
I agree and love many of the points the author makes. A feminist Crisis Pregnancy Center should be Pro-Choice, should provide education about pre-natal healthcare and birthing options, parenting classes, free counseling from licensed professionals, and financial assistance to parents-to-be. Absolutely. But what seemed to be missing from this picture was help for women who choose abortion as well. So, here is my vision for a feminist Crisis Pregnancy Center.
- It would offer counseling and information for women seeking help making their choice. It would provide non-judgmental information about abortion, adoption, and parenthood and help each woman decide what was best for her and her situation.
- It would provide referral services to abortion providers, adoption agencies, healthcare providers, and other organizations supporting women who choose to parent. It would screen the organizations and providers to make sure that women are referred to reputable, and like-mindedly feminist “safe spaces.”
- It would provide free (or on a sliding scale), ongoing counseling for women – no matter what their choice – before, during, and after the unplanned pregnancy/abortion/adoption/birth.
- It would incorporate financial and material assistance to women who need help paying for an abortion, paying medical bills, and starting out as new parents. It could work together with abortion funds, help collect donated baby supplies, etc.
- It would provide parenting classes.
- It would provide free comprehensive safer sex education and counseling, covering contraception options as well as STI prevention and safety for anyone seeking information or help.
- It would provide free education and counseling on sexual assault and relationship violence, including referrals to domestic violence resources, etc.
Feministing asks what your visions are, and what it would take to make this happen. I can’t help but wonder: Why hasn’t this happened?
New organizations are set up all the time. Why don’t we have feminist crisis pregnancy centers? Why not? Seriously people, wouldn’t it be amazing to have a place you could go to get real information and real help from people who do not have an agenda and will support you in whatever choice you make?
What would it take to make this happen? And when can we start?