Two new laws in North Carolina are set to give crisis pregnancy centers more funding and influence, which has opened them up to more scrutiny. But a new tale about center staffers telling a Jewish woman that in order to avoid eternal damnation she should keep her baby and think about accepting Jesus as her lord and savior isn't really helping their case.
The Charlotte Observer reports that soon the pregnancy centers will start seeing some cash, and more importantly, gain legitimacy, from the state's "Choose Life" license plates and the new law that requires an ultrasound before an abortion. The ACLU is suing the state over the plates, but the ultrasound law goes into effect on Wednesday. Ostensibly to help women meet the requirement, a state-run website will begin listing places that provide free ultrasounds, including the crisis pregnancy centers. While they may have people in white coats performing ultrasounds, most centers don't actually staff medical professionals. Democratic State Rep. Jennifer Weiss points out that the centers may also be unwilling to certify the exam if they know the woman intends to get an abortion. "The law is steering them someplace to comply with the law, but the place may not allow them to comply with the law," said Weiss.
That isn't the only reason the centers don't belong on the state's list of ultrasound providers. For the past year, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina has been investigating the state's 122 crisis pregnancy centers. Director Carey Pope says they found that, "Staff and volunteers often use propaganda to dissuade women from abortions." Previous research has found that the centers often lie to women about abortion being linked to breast cancer, infertility, and mental illness.
NARAL found found some other disturbing inormation about how women are treated at the pregnancy centers. A Jewish woman who posed as a preganant woman as part of the investigation was told at five centers that she wouldn't go to heaven unless she converted to Christianity, and one woman told her she should become a "born-again virgin." The facilities were part of the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which represents 67 anti-abortion centers in the state. When Bobbie Meyer, the organization's state director, was asked about the woman's experience, she said,
"I hope that didn't happen ... We can't guarantee every word that comes out of a volunteer's mouth will be what we hope."
Yeah, sometimes you just happen to get a rogue volunteer, or like, five.
As for feeding women misinformation about the health problems linked to abortion, Meyer defended the groups' claim that abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. She explained, "What those in our pregnancy centers are trying to say is there is not a definite link but there is enough evidence to give cause for concern." The "evidence" may only exist in her head, as the National Institutes of Health says there is no such link.
Meyer added that she hopes that in a few years the organizations she represents will have enough new funding to expand because, "There is nothing quite as vulnerable as a woman without a good support system who is pregnant and doesn't know what way to turn." And despite what anti-choice activists say, that's exactly who they're targeting with their sleazy and immoral crisis pregnancy centers.
'Choose Life' To Fund Centers [Charlotte Observer]
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