The Deceitfulness of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

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Art by Ryan Inzana

Pro-lifers pride themselves on having the moral upper hand in the abortion debate, because, after all, they’re for preserving human life, not destroying it. However that doesn’t mean that they are above a little deceit and coercion. Take crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs. These faith-based organizations lure women into their centers with the promise that they will help them to resolve their pregnancy “issues.” But all they really do is steer these women away from getting abortions. They pretend that they are giving women “accurate information about abortion” when all they really do is lecture them about the “physical, emotional and spiritual consequences.” (Taken from the web site of Pregnancy Decision Health Centers.)

I’m not saying that any center, faith-based or not, should push a woman toward abortion. But in the interest of helping her to make the best decision for her,  a crisis pregnancy center should supply objective, accurate and judgment-free information about all her options: 1) abortion, 2) giving birth and keeping the baby, and 3) having the baby in order to give it up for adoption.

Notice my wording: “in order to give the baby up for adoption.” It seems it is not enough for some of these centers to get the woman to “choose life.” They are often heavily invested in providing babies for the purposes of adoption. Demand has begun to affect the supply and there aren’t enough newborn, healthy (and usually white) babies to go around. So they pressure pregnant women to help to increase the supply. That way they can kill two birds with one stone: avoid abortion and procure babies for adoption.

These centers  use various techniques to talk women into giving their babies up. They tell them that if they choose to keep their babies they’re being immature and selfish. They paint worst-case scenarios about single mothers: poverty, homelessness, despair. And the one I really like: they tell them that giving their babies up is one way to right the wrong they committed by becoming pregnant out of wedlock in the first place.

Many of these organizations provide room and board and pay medical expenses for a “birth mother.” And then, if she changes her mind about giving her baby up for adoption, they tell her that she has to pay them back for the support they gave her while she was pregnant.

They also may purposefully misrepresent the terms of the adoption: They tell the new mother that she has to make up her mind right away, when in reality she might have months to make her final decision. They assure her that the adoption is open (meaning that she will know the adoptive parents and will be provided information about her child as he or she grows up), when the truth is that the adoptive parents are going to spirit her baby away and she will never know what became of him or her.

I’m not saying that adoption is never a good option or that abortion always is. I’m not even saying that women shouldn’t be made aware of all the consequences of their actions: bad and good. But don’t pretend that you’re going to help the woman make an informed decision when you really have your own agenda. Don’t use tactics like shaming to get a desired result. And don’t advertise your services as all-inclusive when in fact you never intended to help a woman to get an abortion or to keep her baby.

Check out this excellent article from The Nation: “Shotgun Adoption” by Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

To sign a petition about truth-in-advertising for crisis pregnancy centers, go here.

Published by

Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

3 thoughts on “The Deceitfulness of Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

  1. I work at a pregnancy crisis center and we do tell them their options. Most of the women that come in to our center are already considering abortion, so in those cases we don’t need to tell them it is an option. We don’t have to support abortion because we have the right and the CHOICE not to do so. We certainly don’t condemn them if they do decide to get one. I understand that there are radical pro-lifers out there, but there are also radical pro-choice people as well. By how you have worded your whole blog, you sound like you have a lot of anger towards people who are pro-life, when in reality, many of us just want to protect human life and the welfare of women. The world is not black/white and pro-life/pro-choice, it is full of color and different opinions. If you want to make an impact, don’t be biased, know both sides.

    1. I want to thank you for your comment. I admit that I haven’t personally witnessed what goes on in centers like yours and have taken others’ word for it. I agree that there are radicals on both sides of the abortion divide. I’m definitely not angry at people who are pro-life except when they want to restrict the choices that every woman should have. Personally, I think abortion should be a last resort, but I don’t feel comfortable removing that option entirely.

      The media and certain feminist/pro-choice elements would have us believe that CPCs try to make women feel guilty if they say they’re thinking of abortion. It’s good to hear that that’s not the case, at least in your center.

      You might want to look up my post on my daughter’s miscarriage to get a better idea of how I feel about protecting human life and abortion. http://www.femagination.com/3680/a-true-story-about-loss-and-making-hard-decisions/

      I appreciate your taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. And I apologize for any mischaracterization I may have made about CPCs.

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