Misdirection

I recently read an article talking about so-called “pregnancy crisis centers” which are actually being run by the anti-choice movement. The idea of a pregnancy crisis center aimed at dissuading women from seeking abortions is nothing new, but the tactics these centers use are getting alarmingly more aggressive.

Unwanted pregnancy happens. One solution to an unwanted pregnancy, as Marcotte puts it, is “getting un-pregnant.” It’s far from the only solution. Indeed, most of the women I know who have faced undesired pregnancies have carefully considered all of their options in regards to the parasite growing in their stomachs. And yes, some of them did choose abortion. Others choose to have the child and give it up for adoption, and I know a few who kept the child to raise themselves. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. And this is what the pro-choice movement is about, right?

When a woman goes into a clinic seeking an abortion, she does receive counseling. Abortion clinics don’t hustle women through the doors, strap them to tables, and start scraping out fetal material. Usually several visits, all of which include counseling, are involved. The process is exclaimed to the patient thoroughly, and she is encouraged to make an informed decision. If she chooses abortion, the clinic can make arrangements to provide that option. If she chooses to carry the child, the clinic can also assist her with referrals to organizations which will help her receive pre-natal care and anything else she may need. Planned parenthood is not a bunch of fetus-murdering, wild eyed doctors brandishing forceps.

There do appear to be some misconceptions about who gets abortions. Contrary to popular belief, many women who choose to abort are married and have other children. Abortion is an extension of family planning and child spacing–yes, one which women would prefer to avoid through the use of birth control, but accidents happen. So does rape. And so, when it comes down to it, does reckless behaviour. But it is not my business what led to a woman’s pregnancy, and what may be involved in her choice to abort. And it’s not anyone else’s, either.

But the anti-choice movement has come to save the day, and some fetal souls. (Let alone that many women naturally miscarry in the first trimester anyway…luckily we haven’t gotten to the point in the United States where every fetal death is investigated as a murder.) And herein come the “crisis counseling” centers, paid for with our tax dollars. As a rule, the centers do not have medical staff, properly trained counselors or anyone, in fact, who might give helpful assistance to pregnant women. The centers often set up shop close to planned parenthood, and have deceptive names to lure pregnant women in. Then the unhappily expectant mother is treated to anti-choice literature and other sundry delights.

This chills me to the core.

What disturbs me even more is the recent planned parenthood action alert discussing a “crisis clinic” which a 17 year old girl entered by mistake. She was told that her appointment would be in “the other office” (the real planned parenthood, next door), and the clinic took down her personal information. When she arrived for her “appointment” she was met by police who had been tipped off that a minor was being coerced into an abortion. It didn’t stop there–the “crisis center” harassed her family and schoolmates, too. Not only does the case demonstrate a violation of privacy and medical ethics (though of course there were no medical staff in the “crisis center” with ethics to violate), but it’s also just plain disgusting.

Look. I’m all for trying to find ways to prevent abortion. I know many of my readers suspect that I eat babies for lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. But abortion is not a goodness. It’s painful, it’s emotionally traumatizing, and it can cause long term damage if done improperly. It’s certainly not a casual undertaking. I’m all for educating men and women about their birth control options, for encouraging people to use multiple methods of birth control (such as a combination of chemical and barrier methods).

But I also don’t want to see unwanted children. The human population is exploding–things are going to get rather ugly, rather fast. And even uglier for those who are not wanted. The foster care and adoption systems are hopelessly choked and corroded. Our government is too busy funding rabid right wing organizations to devote any sort of budget to caring for the results of choosing not to abort. And this troubles me, as well. I think the government needs to put its money where its mouth is. If the administration is opposed to abortion, it should be increasing funding to sex education programs. It should be enlarging and improving the systems which care for children in this country–because right now they are not capable of handling the load they already have. If you are going to force women to have children they don’t want, potentially putting their lives at risk, you need to provide support for them as well.

And I also loathe the tactics of the anti-choice movement. Pro-choicers are not bombing the places of business, homes, and vehicles of those who advocate against abortion. We are not picketing doctor’s lawns, threatening hard working clinic employees, and terrorizing young women. We are not engaging in organized smear campaigns designed to damage someone’s community image. All of these behaviours strike me as very un-Christian, and it shocks me that so many Christians are part of this moment.

Abortion is a controversial issue with no easy right and wrong side. It’s generally an issue of agree or don’t agree. But the difference for me is that I don’t have a fundamental objection to people who disagree with me. I have some dear friends who are very anti-choice, and we often discuss this issue. But we can agree to disagree. Neither needs to force the point or win the other over to the “right” side, because both understand that there is no right. We can agree to respect each other’s opinions and the motivations for them though ultimately they are not our opinions. Why is the anti-choice movement letting a small minority of nut-jobs taint their entire movement? There are reasonable speakers within the movement who are fighting for better sex education and social services, but their voices are being drowned out.

It’s a pity, really, because ultimately I suspect the moderates of both movements could unite, as our end desire is the same: every child a wanted child. Every child a healthy, loved child with all the opportunities ou needs.

[prochoice]