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Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Helpful or Hurtful?

Photo Credit: Getty.com

A new debate is brewing in New York City that I personally have been watching closely. For years I have volunteered with local health clinics helping pregnant women and women who wish to prevent pregnancy. In my area we have Planned Parenthood. But I know other parts of the country do not have the same health clinics.

New laws in New York City would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are often run by anti-abortion groups, to inform their patients of any bias the clinic may have against abortion, or what is being called deceptive practices.

In a New York Times article published this past weekend, one mother discussed her experience in one of these centers, which she had no idea held an agenda when she walked through the door.

I had barely finished signing in at the Expectant Mother Care counseling center in Downtown Brooklyn when a staff member ushered me into a darkened room for a sonogram. As we both watched the flickering image of what looked more or less like a tadpole, she called my attention to every anatomical detail, from eyes and nose to hands and toes. Staring at the little bugger wriggling around inside me, a tear slid out of my eye.

Did that tear trigger some alarm? Suddenly, two more people crowded into that tiny, darkened room. One asked if I was considering abortion. “The gift you’re carrying is perfection par excellence,” she told me. She commiserated about how scary pregnancy can be. She talked about the value of siblings, and the memory of her brother at their dying mother’s side. She told me that if I needed any kind of assistance — counseling, a job, a place to stay — she would work hard to get it for me. I believed her.

The story this mother told is one of the most mild and non-harassing I have heard in my time working as an advocate for pregnant women. I have heard everything from harassment and name calling, to women being tricked into their offices, which were set up across the hall from an abortion provider or a Planned Parenthood location. Unsuspecting or lost, women go to these centers not knowing and not being told they are in the wrong office until they get them back behind closed doors.

Certainly all of these centers don’t run like this, but the laws that New York City government is proposing should become national. Women in vulnerable states, with unplanned or even unwanted pregnancies, should be getting accurate information, not biased or untrue information like abortion causes breast cancer, which the above center handed out, despite The National Cancer Institute refuting this.

These same centers are not providing any information on post-birth issues mothers may have, from postpartum depression to the physical risks that can be associated with it. Seemingly one-sided for sure!

All women everywhere should be able to benefit from accurate information by law from providers when seeking information about any pregnancy-related procedure, even if the provider may not agree with them. Patient autonomy is most important, especially to our women.

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