In a disturbing Huffington Post piece, UCLA student Myra Duran visits a crisis pregnancy center to find out how "empowering" it really is.
When she arrives at the center with her boyfriend, the staff give Duran hot tea and paperwork — which states, in fine print, that said staff are not actual healthcare professionals. Then a "counselor" and the Director of the center take her to a "white, isolated room" where she tells them she thinks she may be pregnant. Here's what happens next:
Quite suddenly I became keenly aware of a distinct pressure being placed on me by both women. It felt like a two-on-one tag team and I was their prey. The Director kept saying I was at the right place because other clinics do not provide the same "facts" that they do about abortion. She kept calling me "sweetie," as she told me abortion just complicates matters for women. She claimed abortion causes women psychological harm and she forcefully stated that abortion would not be the right choice for me.
Then the staff tests her urine (in a Dixie cup), finds that she's not pregnant, and refuses to give her any information about birth control pills or condoms. Instead, they offer her literature on abstinence, and ask if she feels "empowered." "No," she says.
All this would be okay if the crisis pregnancy center Duran visited accurately billed itself as an anti-abortion, abstinence-only facility. Instead, its brochure offers "pregnancy options counseling," and its mission statement trumpets the "empowerment" that Duran most certainly did not feel. This center and others of its ilk feel that it's acceptable to trick women who may be in difficult situations by promising one thing and delivering another. Rather than letting women make their own decisions with all the information in front of them, they instead use subterfuge to artificially limit women's options. Clearly crisis pregnancy centers aren't very confident in the power of their anti-abortion message if they think women need to be essentially trapped into hearing it. Duran's experience reveals the deep distrust of women that exists in many sectors of the anti-abortion movement. It also exposes crisis pregnancy centers — many of which receive federal funding and referrals from campus health centers — for the dishonest and disempowering places they really are.