Crisis pregnancy center advocates say the faith-based nonprofits are totally legitimate alternatives to dastardly abortion mills; Texas Governor Rick Perry has even argued that they should replace real women's health centers. Opponents say CPCs are misleading and disseminate false information to vulnerable young women. A 24-year-old undercover activist hopes to shut down the argument by catching the truth on camera.
Katie Stack is a pro-choice activist and patients’ advocate at an Ohio abortion clinic who has been fighting the crucial fight against CPCs for years; you might recall her name from a New York Times op-ed she wrote in 2011. Stack is also a founder of the Crisis Project, which is like Lila Rose's Live Action non-evil twin sister: she films undercover video to prove that crisis pregnancy counselors try and dissuade women from getting abortions by laying on guilt and spreading incorrect information about abortion's physical and mental "consequences." Her latest video, released earlier this month takes place at Cleveland’s Womankind “maternal and prenatal care” center (h/t Salon). It's predictable if you're familiar with CPC tactics, but it's shocking nonetheless.
In the video, the Cleveland Womankind counselor tells Katie, now 19-year-old "Kate," that she can only see a doctor if she needs prenatal care; if she wants information on STDs, abortion, or contraception, she can talk to her. And talk they do! "I know there's a pill you can take not to get pregnant," Kate says, explaining that she had unprotected sex just the day before.
“It sounds like the morning after pill," the counselor muses after asking Kate some basic questions, including whether she and her partner are religious. "If you have intercourse and then take this pill and it causes a period to come on or something, or bleeding. It’s like having kind of an abortion.” Nope! She continues: "That could harm you. It really could harm you … You could hemorrhage from anything like that.”
Is the counselor ignorant or purposefully deceptive? Perhaps both, but she definitely has an agenda: save Kate's non-existent baby at all costs. “I know people do buy it over the counter, but is that wise?" she says of the morning-after pill. "Something somebody else might do you don’t do.” As the saying goes: if all your friends jumped off a bridge into Abortionland, would you jump off, too?
The counselor gets even more unprofessional as the discussion continues. "Why would you have intercourse?" she asks. “Why do you have sex? You’re not married.” Sex "is something very personal, a lifelong thing," she explains. "It has to have some meaning behind it." An abortion, the counselor says, could "ruin your life."
"You don't just have sex in order to make yourself feel good," she lectures. “It has consequences and you don’t want to put the consequences on having to harm yourself. And harming yourself would be having an abortion. Or taking the pill after. Because sometimes taking a pill like that could cause more bleeding than what you think. It would only take you to the emergency room and you having to take care of what’s happening. A lot of those things, you probably could read online, on the Internet, the risks in taking something like that would be. There’s risks in anything. It could leave damage to the cervix, it could mean hemorrhaging.”
87% of U.S. counties (97% in non-metropolitan areas) have zero abortion providers, according to the most recent survey by the Guttmacher Institute. But there are more than 4,000 CPCs across the country that would love to fill that gap. A few cities have tried to enact regulations to make sure CPCs can't use misleading advertising or lie about providing or referring for abortions or having doctors on the premises, but San Francisco is the only city that has successfully passed legislation. That means an unthinkable amount of young women like Kate are having similar conversations to the one you see above every day instead of getting safe and legal access to reproductive care.