The Flip Side: Accountability and Crisis Pregnancy Centers

The pro-choice movement recently became aware of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and they’ve gone to town on them. What surprises me most about pro-choicers’ reactions is not that they have imitated pro-lifers by going undercover to expose abuses, nor that they have succeeded in uncovering some horrific abuses, but that they totally fail to grasp the reasoning behind CPCs.

A crisis pregnancy center is designed to address the fact that women who are actually in “crisis” pregnancies generally don’t see keeping the baby or even carrying the baby to term to be viable options, and the resources offered by CPCs are supposed to give these women a more viable choice. In such cases, abortion clinics offer an easy out, but CPCs try to actually give women another option when they think abortion is the only one. It is precisely because abortion so often seems like the only way out that CPCs exist in the first place: even if CPCs don’t offer abortions or abortion referrals, they are in at least one sense more meaningfully “pro-choice” than the abortion mill down the street.

As baffled as I am by the sheer uncomprehending outrage with which abortion advocates regard the fundamental mission of CPCs, they have made some valid criticisms in their accusations against at least some CPCs with respect to incorrect factual claims (be they deliberate lies or simply misinformation passed naively along), humiliation, emotional blackmail, or threatening to call child services when a woman decides to keep her child instead of giving the child up for adoption.

So what I am I suggesting here? I am suggesting that if pro-lifers don’t want pro-abortion politicians to use public outrage against horrific abuses perpetrated by certain CPCs as a way to shut down all CPCs, then it’s on us to look into our local CPCs, to understand their mission and arguments and to hold them accountable to charity and truth, not just trust in their good intentions. A failure of either empathy or honesty could not only cause great harm to the individual women CPCs are trying to help, but the stories could in the long run scare women away from CPCs and toward a rather more regrettable option.

As far as I can tell, the Women’s Care Center is very good, and it may be easy for people like me who have never seen a CPC other than a Women’s Care Center to assume that every crisis pregnancy center is just as good, but it apparently just ain’t so. If we don’t want Planned Parenthood or NARAL shaping laws that place too many restrictions on CPCs in the name of cleaning up the messes left by rogue CPCs, we should probably clean them up ourselves, both in the laws and on the streets.

It may be the case that the sort of political doomsday scenario I’m predicting never actually materializes, but even if we are not held accountable for our failures by our political opponents, I rather doubt that we will escape accountability to Someone Whose judgment matters quite a bit more.

The Abortion-as-Healthcare Paradox

In recent months, there has been massive opposition to legislation designed to force abortion clinics to meet reasonable health and safety standards; a look into the more distant past reveals that there have long been concerns about individuals who work at hospitals and religious hospitals in general being forced to provide abortions against their consciences.

On one hand, abortions rights activists refuse to hold abortion clinics up to hospital standards, but on the other, they want hospitals everywhere to provide abortions. There’s some sort of cognitive dissonance going on here. Do pro-choicers want hospital-quality abortions or not?

It seems to me that the opposition to the pro-life legislation is reflexive rather than premeditated: the way they see it, pro-life folks are pushing it, so it must be bad. The very fact that pro-lifers came up with it makes them suspicious that the bills are not designed to make abortion safer, but primarily to restrict abortion access.

If that’s really what they’re concerned about, I’m wondering why we got a Wendy Davis filibuster instead of a Wendy Davis bill raising health and safety standards for abortion clinics. That is, if pro-choice politicians don’t want pro-lifers to ride a wave of public opinion against horrific conditions in abortion clinics, maybe they should take some legislative steps to clean up their own side’s messes. If bills written by pro-life activists restrict abortion too much, let’s see the other side’s alternative (given the way in which the Obamacare debate developed, I think this is a fair argument).

With respect to the “safe, legal, rare” slogan, abortion rights advocates are currently batting one for three, and I can’t understand why they are so intent on doing so at this juncture. If birth control is healthcare, then let’s hold birth control providers up to basic medical standards.