Every day we are bombarded with online news, opinions, “studies”, and op-eds. More often than not (depending on the source) they do not always match up to what we believe to be the truth. I can read an article titled like that above and shake my head and roll my eyes because as a pregnancy center staffer, I know. But the reality is that not everyone ‘knows’ and sometimes these articles plant seeds of doubt in an otherwise reasonable common sense adult.
I recently read an article from on line spot called vox.com (a Vox Media bit). The title jumped out at me as they are wont to do so I decided to take a look. The title was “What Crisis Pregnancy Centers Really Do.” (A. North 3/2/2020) Well ok then – what is it A. North thinks we do. I dove in.
“The facilities primary mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion.” (Katrina Kimport, associate professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health). Strictly speaking that is in part our primary mission, yes. To attempt to change an abortion-vulnerable women’s mind before she makes a choice that ends the life of her child. That is no secret no matter how much they want to claim these centers are deceiving women.
“These centers, most which are religiously affiliated, typically offer services like pregnancy tests” (check), “and sometimes resources like diapers or baby clothes” (check and check) “alongside counseling with an anti-abortion message”. (semi…check). Our staff advocates and nurses do counsel women about the options they have, including abortion, adoption, and parenting as well as all the ways they can overcome whatever obstacles may be swaying their decisions. What our advocates and nurses do not do is pressure women down paths they do not want. We listen, encourage, share, and inform. We listen to their stories, their hopes, their worries about what having a baby may mean. We encourage them to talk and truly consider what lies ahead. We share our own stories of parenthood, pregnancy, abortion, and recovery. We inform them of what abortion is and entails fact by fact.
“Patients can still receive misinformation, and their practices often fall short of accepted medical standards”, (Samantha Wohlfeil, Inlander, February 13th, 2020). Contrary to what a lot of these articles claim a lot of pregnancy centers, like Next Step, do have actual qualified advocates as well as actual qualified registered nurses and RDMSs (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers) who perform actual medical pregnancy tests and medically licensed, early obstetric ultrasounds. We have a medical director who reviews every medical case. Licensed non-profit medical clinics, although 501(c)3 exempt, are still legally and ethically bound to obtain licensed medical personnel, liability and medical insurance as well work with a accredited organizations such as NIFLA (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates) as an approved continuing education provider.
About the only thing in the article I could really get behind was that “centers did provide for the respondent a place where their desire to have a child was supported and encouraged.” Well, yes. Yes it is. “That’s significant because low-income women, especially women of color, are sometimes actively discouraged from having children, including by their health care providers.” (K. Kimport)
Bottom line pregnancy centers cannot take the place of full service medical centers and counselling services. These centers cannot always provide absolutely everything a growing family needs or everything a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs. And that’s no secret. But what we can provide is a welcoming, non judgemental, compassionate atmosphere where women can be honest and protected, listened to and not pressured. Given the facts, questions answered, get accurate pregnancy testing, early OB ultrasounds and, medical records to prove pregnancy. Baby clothes and supplies, diapers and formula, toys, books, medical insurance assistance, housing and food bank resources, parenting information, adoption information, and – if asked – prayer.
That’s what we really do.