By Carly Thomsen
End Fake Clinics, a reproductive justice student organization at the University of California Santa Barbara, is a group feminists and reproductive justice advocates should know—as much for their local successes as the extraordinary, creative and fun tactics they have deployed to combat the practices of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers. These unregulated centers disguise themselves as neutral medical providers, but consistently provide false information and often have no medical professionals on staff. Indeed, CPCs consider themselves the provider arm of the anti-abortion movement.
End Fake Clinics is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of these centers and, in the process, creating dialogue about reproductive justice issues more broadly. Recognizing that different people enter conversations via varying entry points, the students have deployed numerous tactics in order to reach the widest range of people.
This year, students published op-eds on reproductive justice in the campus newspapers, created a weekly radio show called the Reproductive Justice Power Hour, organized presentations and workshops on reproductive justice issues, co-sponsored a film series, created a “Queering Reproductive Justice” zine, collaborated with fellow campus activists to bring esteemed activists (Cecilia Fire Thunder) and academics (Kim Hall) to UCSB to give talks, created a radical reproductive justice flyer that builds off the of the approach of the Against Equality queer collective, and produced a music video about CPCs, a remix of Naughty by Nature’s song “You Down with OPP.”
These on-campus talks, film screenings, workshops, and flyering are part of a longer history of activism geared toward generating discussions about reproductive justice issues within their local environment. For example, during the 2011-2012 academic year, End Fake Clinics took on local CPCs directly, and, in doing so, changed the institution: They collected nearly 2,000 signatures—roughly 10% of the undergraduate student population—in support of banning these centers from advertising on campus. Their efforts resulted in a bill passed by the UCSB Associated Students’ Legislative Council that restricts any group under the jurisdiction of the student government from advertising on behalf of crisis pregnancy centers. UCSB is one of only a few schools to pass such a ban and is providing a model for other universities to follow suit.
As such, throughout the 2012-2013 school year, End Fake Clinics intentionally engaged in activism that would also reach beyond UCSB. Students were inspired to make a music video about CPCs, in particular, in order to challenge ideas about what activism looks like, to insist that activism can and must be fun, and, to reach people that might not be activist or social-justice oriented.
In many ways, this approach is working. It is changing the institution. And, perhaps more importantly, it is transforming the activists who are End Fake Clinics. Watch the videos! Check out the links! Like the FB page! Learn about this amazing group of undergraduate students! And, then, head out to End Fake Clinics.
Carly Thomsen is a Doctoral Candidate in Feminist Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her areas of specialization include feminist, queer and crip theory, activism and social movements, critical sexuality studies, bodies, health and reproduction, rurality, place, and space, and food politics. She is currently completing a dissertation entitled “Unbecoming: Visibility Politics and Queer Rurality.” She is the proud Adviser to End Fake Clinics.