The MBTA should not allow advertising from crisis pregnancy centers

The MBTA is where you’ll usually find ads for Jamba juice and Jansport backpacks, local research studies, and public health campaigns. Currently, though, much of this highly-coveted space is occupied by ads for Daybreakinc.org, an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. The ads don’t tell you that Daybreak has an anti-abortion agenda; they claim to offer “compassion,” “empowerment,” “hope,” and most inaccurately, “options.” This is in fact the major criticism of crisis pregnancy centers—that they misrepresent themselves as neutral parties. They are not, and they should not be allowed to advertise their heavily-biased and manipulative services on the MBTA.

The point of a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) is to keep pregnant women from having abortions, often by delaying them with offers of pregnancy tests and ultrasounds until it’s too late. What is truly sinister about CPCs is their use of untrue or misleading information to scare women away from choosing abortion, with false claims such as: abortion causes breast cancer, abortion is psychologically damaging, abortion can lead to sterility, and birth-control pills cause abortion. A 2006 Congressional investigation found that 87 percent of the centers surveyed provided false or misleading medical information.

Daybreak is guilty of this type of misinformation, although they are careful not to appear so on their website. It’s no wonder they are covering their behinds—legal action has been taken against CPCs in a number of states regarding their deceptive advertising in New York, California, Ohio, Missouri, and North Dakota.

According to their website, Daybreak claims to provide “accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues, and related concerns” as well as offer “accurate information about abortion procedures and risks.” They say “our advertising and communications are truthful and honest and accurately describe the services we offer.” But when you dig in deeper, you will find a sample if misleading and just plain untrue “facts” on their website:

  • Daybreak claims: “[Plan B] It may alter the uterine lining which prevents the fertilized egg from implanting, resulting in an early abortion.” (This is wrong—the dissolution of a fertilized egg is NOT “early abortion.”)
  • Daybreak claims: “Complications may happen in as many as 1 out of every 100 early abortions,” when according to the Guttmacher Institute, “the risk of abortion complications is minimal: Fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization.”
  • Daybreak claims: “Women who have experienced abortion may develop the following symptoms: guilt, grief, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, difficulty bonding with partner or children, eating disorder,” when the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion reported that “the best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”
  • On the particularly appalling “For Men” section of the Daybreak website, they write: “Many women who have had abortions report that they were waiting for their boyfriends/husbands to stop them. Some even say that they sat on the table hoping the father of their baby would ‘rush through the door to rescue me and take me away somewhere safe.’” (Um, citation needed?)

I’m not trying to make the argument that free pregnancy counseling is a bad thing or that the people at Daybreak are “bad” people, but pregnancy counseling, or any counseling for that matter, should be unbiased and informative. No where on the Daybreak MBTA ads are women informed that the the “free pregnancy counseling” is actually anti-abortion counseling, and that is dishonest, manipulative, and ultimately wrong. Women facing unplanned pregnancies need to know all their options, without the implication that one is better than another, and they need real medical information, not the “facts” listed above.

The MBTA is currently under fire for proposed fare increases and service cuts. They may be desperate for funds, but that does not excuse this moral misstep. CPCs are a growing threat to women’s health and the MBTA is the last place Bostonians should be exposed to anti-abortion propaganda.

4 thoughts on “The MBTA should not allow advertising from crisis pregnancy centers

  1. Who says that the services they offer “should be unbiased and informative”? (You, obviously. But beyond that.) The First Amendment protects the free speech rights of this group, and those who believe as they do. They have every right to advertise however and wherever they wish. They have the right to spread whatever misinformation they want – I guarantee you that they believe it, and that they have their own statisticians and citations to back it up. (Deliberate misleading is another thing, but though these people have an agenda, they thoroughly believe in the correctness of what they espouse.)

    I am pro-choice, but I am appalled at the lack of tolerance that I see so many pro-choicers display. Pro-life is a valid way to think. You don’t have to like it, but they have a right to exist. I think you would change more minds with compassion than with militant outcries.

    Nowhere in McDonald’s ads do they tell you that their beef is not made primarily from real beef and that the high amounts of saturated fat and sodium in all their food (even their salads!) will increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, and stroke. Does that mean they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise? Of course not; that’s not the point of advertising. What you seem to be advocating is the suppression of a viewpoint that you don’t like. I find that deplorable.

    • I don’t think that at any point Leah suggested that pro-life was not “a valid way to think.” There’s a substantial difference between accepting that someone is pro-life, and being okay with them providing misleading and/or flat-out false information to someone who is trying to make an extremely difficult decision. They may think that they’re right, but that doesn’t make them any less of a danger to women’s health.

      I may have less of the ‘militant’ attitude towards it, but I agree that allowing this kind of advertising on the T is a huge misstep, especially from a company that just banned any and all alcohol advertisements and is therefore clearly okay with making that kind of sweeping limit on the kinds of ads they will display.

  2. the issue with the dissolution of the fertilized egg: semantics. whether you call it “early abortion” or something else, the point is the event occurs. a rose by any other name….
    complications in 1 of 100 versus 0.3% having complications resulting in hospitalization: now you’re being misleading by saying their statistic is false. they said 1 in 100 have complications, not complications resulting in hospitalization
    women getting depressed, etc. you’re right they should provide citation, but, based on personal knowledge of individuals i have personal relationships with, it is entirely possible and believable that this could be true, at least in some cases. how many or what portion? A study would be needed. or maybe there has been one. i’ll have to research it.
    people have a right to an opinion or a stance. they aren’t obligated to be unbiased. you obviously are not. and pro-choice doesn’t necessaily mean pro-abortion, and in many cases it isn’t. but why some pro-choice people feel threatened by the very expession of the pro-life view is beyond me. as long as the choice/option is there, who cares if someone says they think it’s a bad idea. i have the legal right to drink, but people who think it’s a bad idea to have even one occasional drink can tell me their thoughts, then i can decide, and have the legal right to do so. trying to silence opposition is damaging to the concept of choice and freedom in a broader sense than just the right to choose, or NOT choose, an abortion.

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