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.