What’s wrong with “crisis pregnancy” centres?

Well, for starters, there is NO SUCH THING as a “crisis” pregnancy. That word is utterly meaningless. And then there’s the fact that all this weasel-verbiage exists for a reason: to bamboozle unwary women (and girls!) into handing their decision-making powers to someone else…someone who is feeding them complete and utter bullshit:

A survey of 10 centres operated by Christian and anti-abortion organisations found evidence in most of them of poor practice and factually incorrect advice, while the quality of counselling differs widely. Advice ranged from scaremongering – linking abortion with breast cancer, for example – to actions apparently designed to steer women away from abortion, such as showing them baby clothes and talking about “the child”.

Right away, there is this presumption that a pregnant woman or girl should be tricked into carrying a pregnancy to term by any means possible…including lies. And loose use of loaded language. And, oh yeah, some truly ugly scaremongering:

At a Life centre in Covent Garden, London, the undercover researcher was given a leaflet entitled Abortions – How they’re Done, which said incorrectly that 85% of abortions are carried out using vacuum aspiration. It stated that “the unborn child is sucked down the tube” and that “the woman should wear some protection. She has to dispose of the corpse.”

Nice, eh? Loaded language: Check. Lies: Check. Scaremongering: CHECK!

And just think, this false “information” is from a “charity” that has been called upon by the UK Tory government to “advise” it on matters of sexual health. Something like that doesn’t make me at all confident of their capacity to advise anyone on anything.

But hey. If the loaded scaremongering language doesn’t get you, maybe the emotionalistic appeals will:

The counsellor was said to have focused on mental health issues that she associated with abortion, telling the researcher she was of a good age to have a child, showing her baby clothes and using terms such as “baby” and “grandchild” when referring to the pregnancy.

“Look at these cute little baby clothes! Don’t you want to give your mother a grandchild? Won’t she be disappointed if you fail to do this for her?”

Blecch.

But the saccharine and the erroneous are no match for the sheer hypocrisy:

While a counsellor on Life’s helpline was regarded as being “friendly and non-judgmental”, she was unwilling to answer questions about physical aspects of abortion, saying she was not qualified to do so. When asked whom to talk to about arranging an abortion, the counsellor stated that the organisation was pro-life and could not recommend any service. She claimed not to know the names of abortion providers.

A counsellor at City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy (CPCP), London, which came under Life’s auspices until the end of May, repeatedly suggested the client should wait two to three weeks before making her decision on abortion.

The counsellor said the embryo was a fully formed human life and that the client would have to grieve for her loss: “Abortion, whatever reason you might go for that, will become bereavement because this is a baby that’s going to die, if you go down that route. That’s the reality of it.”

That’s “friendly and nonjudgmental” for you. When you get right down to it, religiously biased “crisis pregnancy counselling” (note the quotes) is VERY judgmental. And not at all friendly to women, since it relies on falsehoods ranging from the sugary to the terrifying in order to convince them to want what they do not. Would a REAL friend do that?

Or, to put it another way: With “friends” like these, you don’t need enemies.

But maybe I’m being too harsh on them? I don’t know. Here’s what they found out about another such organization; you be the judge:

A counsellor at Choices Haringey in north London, part of a network overseen by Care Confidential, a Christian organisation, did not know the legal time limit for abortion, claimed that there were no statistics on the number of women who have terminations and had little idea about local services.

The counsellor frequently referred to “The Journey” – a training manual – and handed out photocopied pages from its 10-step “road to abortion recovery”, including steps entitled “guilt and shame” and “forgiveness”.

Other sections of the manual (which were not given to the researcher) state: “Part of the healing journey to post-abortion recovery involves repentance – the only remedy for guilt. If we are to walk this journey with a woman then we need to clearly see which boundaries she has crossed … immorality, coveting, lying, as well as taking innocent life.”

Goodness gracious me. It sounds to me like someone is trying to create guilt and shame where none might have existed before. The better, no doubt, to drum up business for someone specializing in for-profit “post-abortion recovery counselling”! But since they don’t even have accurate abortion statistics to work with, can we really trust in the veracity of their patented 10-step “process”?

Okay, let’s try this again. I’m really working hard on giving them the benefit of the doubt here…

At Skylight Counselling, a Care Confidential affiliate in Coventry, the counsellor was said to have listed physical and psychological effects she linked to the “post-traumatic stress” of abortion. Literature suggesting risks such as “sub-fertility or infertility” and “increased risk of breast cancer” was given out.

Oh dear. This old shit, too? It’s worth noting that lowered fertility doesn’t stem from abortion per se, but from ILLEGAL abortion. Infection, blood loss, and incomplete evacuation of the uterus are all common where abortion is illegal and performed clandestinely. They are highly uncommon where abortion is legal and safely performed by a trained practitioner.

As for breast cancer, it can be caused by genetics, by pesticides in food and on lawns, by radiation, by chemical exposure, and by smoking. But by abortion? NEVER.

The fact that I have to spend time debunking these lies is really depressing, y’know? But even more depressing is the thought of how many women’s lives in Britain are hanging in the balance because of these “charitable” misinformers. The report concludes that only two in ten of the centres visited by the “mystery shoppers” gave out good, accurate information and full, nonjudgmental support. That means that 80% of “crisis” pregnancy centres are handing out false information.

Here in Canada, I don’t expect that it’s any better. I’ve seen the training literature they give their volunteers; I came across it one day quite by accident, when I used a washroom shared by several offices in a local building downtown. It was lying half-crumped on top of a heap of damp paper towels in the wastebasket. I took it out, uncrumpled it, and read in horror just what their “intake” process was: Separate the possibly-pregnant female from any “abortion-minded” (read: PRO-CHOICE) companion; while she waits for the “free” pregnancy test result, make her watch a video which details fetal pain and suffering caused by abortion; if the test comes back positive, refer her to the “Bethesda” clinic (a local anti-choice, religiously biased clinic in a nearby strip mall with a big cross on their sign, one which has since mercifully disappeared — guess nobody was willing to pay out of pocket to be indoctrinated!), and even if the test result is negative, push abstinence and religious “counselling” on her to make sure she doesn’t “stray” again. No information on birth control whatsoever! Abstinence only. And lots and lots of guilt-tripping; that much is a given. You can’t have abstinence without making a girl feel guilty and ashamed about her sexual desires.

And what little they provide in “services” can be obtained in Canada for free at any doctor’s office. The pregnancy test, for instance. You don’t have to go to a fake clinic to get it. Hospitals and doctors’ offices often have on-site testing labs where you can get the results for free within minutes, no traumatic video watching necessary. If you have a few bucks to spare, you can also get one of those pee-on-a-stick tests at any drugstore, and know as soon as the day after a missed period if you have anything to worry about or not, and call your doctor directly for an abortion referral once you have the result. In other words: the only thing of any real value these centres offer — free pregnancy testing — is something you don’t really need them for!

All in all, it strikes me that “crisis pregnancy” centres are an awful lot like those discredited “drug counselling” centres run by Scientologists. They rely on an unholy combination of guilt, shame, love-bombing and misinformation. They can mess with an unwary woman’s head for years, and scar an impressionable girl for life.

And if that’s not wrong, I don’t know what is.

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