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BY JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE
The abortion lobby must be
desperate. They evidently feel threatened by little old ladies who give away
free baby clothes to women in crisis pregnancies.
The abortion lobby’s latest
hyperventilation, a campaign calmly titled, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An
Affront to Choice,” launches a very unsubtle, non-nuanced broadside against
crisis pregnancy centers.
After reading a few of the
headlines of news stories dutifully publishing abortion lobby press releases, I
decided to take a look at the study myself, to see if there was any substance
to their claims.
The study is nothing more than a
collection of outrageous whining by the National Abortion Federation.
Crisis pregnancy centers
(sometimes abbreviated CPCs) arose in response to Roe v. Wade, which did much more than
legalize abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. The Supreme Court
told people who believed that life begins at conception that there was no place
for them in the political process. They no longer had an opportunity to place
their views before the legislature for consideration. They did not lose a
political competition after a fair fight: They were ordered off the playing
Many people who believe abortion
is wrong also believe doing wrong creates harm for the person who does it. They
realized that the only way to reduce the number of abortions would be to try to
talk individual women out of having abortions. So those who were politically
disenfranchised by Roe v. Wade turned
their energies toward the private, voluntary sector and tried to make the
decision for life as easy and as appealing as possible for women in crisis
There are now more than 4,000
crisis pregnancy centers across the country. Most are staffed by (mostly
female) volunteers and funded entirely by donations. These centers vary
tremendously in their services and sophistication. Many are small but earnest: Little
old ladies give away baby clothes and show pregnant women plastic models of
fetal development. Other centers are full-scale medical clinics with doctors on
staff. These facilities provide prenatal care, labor and delivery, well-baby
visits, parenting classes and, of course, free baby clothes. This variety is
exactly what you would expect from a network of volunteer organizations that
arise spontaneously in response to an important social need.
So what is the abortion lobby’s
beef? Crisis pregnancy centers mislead and therefore harm, pregnant women.
Let’s go through their arguments.
Crisis pregnancy centers choose locations close to abortion providers.
Women become confused by the close
proximity of a crisis pregnancy center and an abortion provider. That’s called
competition. Besides, the abortion lobby has been telling us for years that
women are in complete command of themselves at all times. The abortion lobby
thinks even a 13-year-old “woman” is considered competent enough to choose for
herself, without any parental guidance. And now, the National Abortion
Federation tells us that these poor hapless women can’t even find their way
across the parking lot and into the correct building.
These centers target women in low-income neighborhoods.
Wait a minute: Crisis pregnancy
centers are not “targeting” low-income women any more than the abortion
industry is targeting them. It is tacky in the extreme for the abortion lobby
to whine about these centers locating near abortion clinics, and at the same time
to complain that the centers “target” poor and minority women.
Crisis pregnancy centers tell women that abortion will harm them, and this
is not true.
Actually, it is the abortion lobby
that misleads people on this score. They claim that no one is ever significantly
impacted by abortion, either emotionally or physically. It only takes one
counter-example to disprove such an extreme claim. Even a single woman who
regrets her abortion falsifies the claim that no one is ever hurt.
The abortion lobby claims that
post-abortion trauma doesn’t exist. If that is the case, why are counseling
programs like Rachel’s Vineyard filled to capacity weekend after weekend with
women seeking healing from their abortions? Are all these women deceived about
their own experiences? Surely, women are entitled to hear that there are some
risks involved, and consider whether these risks might apply to them.
The centers trick women into signing adoption papers.
The evidence for this claim is a
couple of 10-year-old court cases. The abortion lobby has no basis for the
outrageous charge that crisis pregnancy centers systematically deceive women
into giving up their babies for adoption.
There are more crisis pregnancy centers than there are abortion centers.
There are over more than 4,000
such centers nationwide, and only 2,000 abortion clinics.
And this is a problem why,
exactly? These centers represent somebody’s heart-and-soul commitment to the
cause of helping women in crisis pregnancies. While there are a few networks,
most are small, free-standing centers, run by volunteers. By contrast, Planned
Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion services, is a
Tell me: Which is the grassroots
network and which is the corporate conglomerate?
These centers get government money for abstinence programs.
“Public federal funding of CPCs began in 1996 when the welfare reform law allocated
$50 million to Title V abstinence-only education programs, which some states
make available to CPCs,” according to “An Affront to
They do not mention that Planned
Parenthood International gets many times that amount. According to a Government
Accountability Office report, Planned Parenthood International and other family
planning organizations received $225 million in fiscal 2001 alone.
Crisis pregnancy centers are financed and supported by religious
What exactly are people of faith
supposed to do: Roll over and play dead and pretend this issue doesn’t matter?
And by the way, a woman going to an abortion alternatives center can hardly be
surprised that many people there are religious. You’d have to be living in a
cave for the last 30 years to be unaware that the pro-life movement has deep
The abortion lobby also complains
about private funding of crisis pregnancy centers, mentioning by name Gary Heavin, the CEO of Curves for Women health clubs. They
conveniently forget to mention the millions of large foundation dollars
contributed to family planning in general and Planned Parenthood in particular.
The Ford Foundation, the Packard Foundation, Ted Turner, Bill Gates and now
Warren Buffet contribute to population control, including abortion. Ted Turner
can give billions, but Gary Heavin is suspect?
“An Affront to Choice” is itself
an affront to the millions of choices women and men have made to contribute
their time and treasure to the cause of helping women choose life.
Jennifer Roback Morse is a senior
research fellow in economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion
and Liberty, and the author most recently of Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love
in a Hook-up World.