Last night, Ohio’s budget was signed into law by Governor John Kasich. Ohio now has some of the strictest regulations on abortion access in the nation. Although Planned Parenthood will be losing over 1.4 million dollars in funding, the budget allows continued support for “Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” which we’ve worked extensively to debunk and inform the public about. CPCs are dangerous and do not provide real, comprehensive support for women seeking out family planning resources, advice, or assistance. This personal story illustrates the importance of access to places which do.
I had never noticed the nearby Pregnancy and Parenting office until I approached it with my best friend this summer, despite having passed it on the highway day after day prior. Its smooth brick exterior seemed to blend into everything around it, I guess. But that day I noticed it, and my friend’s fingers were digging into my arm, and she was shaking with nerves. We were going there to get a free pregnancy test. Google had taken us there. After several tests completed not-so-successfully in the Walgreens bathroom, we wanted to go somewhere reliable. Upon walking in and talking to the volunteer at the front desk, however, we realized were set to receive more than what we expected.
My friend was perched on the edge of the couch, flipping through a clipboard that she was bouncing on her knee. “They want to know the father’s name,” she whispered to me.
“That’s not really relevant,” I replied.
“And they want to know about my relationship with him? He was a guy I met at a party. I don’t want to write that.”
We continued to read through the packet, answering easy questions such as, name, age, birth date, address – all with the hopes she wouldn’t be contacted later. The other questions continued to be strange: Who will support you? What’s your religion? I wasn’t sure how that information was pertinent for someone taking a free pregnancy test, and that was all we wanted. I began to notice the different biblical verses pasted upon wallpapered walls. An advertisement for free ultrasounds was planted on the desk.
My friend left to pee in the mini cup while I started talking to the woman at the front desk.
“Volunteers are a wonderful help,” the woman droned on. “We have a training program going on right now, actually, and each year volunteers help coordinate the ‘Walk for Life.’”
Life, I thought. I don’t think I’ll be able to get an IUD here. The woman handed me pamphlets to “educate” myself about different services and options the center offered before she met with my friend in another room. “It’s not that simple,” the pamphlets told me. The pamphlet was about abortion. “It’s a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.” It said that women faced regret as well as other risks by having abortions – and listed consequences ranging from breast cancer to death. That didn’t sound right. (Abortion is safer than taking an injection of penicillin and can be completed in under five minutes. Also, a study has shown the first emotion felt after an abortion is commonly relief.)
My friend burst back into the room and mouthed, negative, let’s go. The whole discussion with the volunteer had set her off. Not only had the volunteer called abortion “the A word,” but she continuously told her about the office’s Abortion Recovery and Counseling services. This place seemed to distribute shame to all its visitors. Who knew it was this hard to take a pregnancy test?
My friend left with a few final words of information from the volunteer: “God makes babies.”
Upon returning home and researching the Pregnancy and Parenting Office, I realized we had visited a crisis pregnancy center, a clinic run by anti-abortionists. Such centers are filled with “misinformation to intimidate women from considering abortion and provide false information about birth control and the effectiveness of condoms for the prevention of STIs and HIV. Ultimately, their tactics delay women from receiving comprehensive medical care.” They lie about the emotional and physical effects of abortion and do not use complete and correct information about all options. Often CPCs are religiously affiliated.
Had my friend actually been pregnant, she could have been misguided and shamed into keeping the child even though she is a full-time student with hopes of graduate school and career in international business. Advertising free pregnancy tests and ultrasound screenings is a way to bring women into the center and discourage them for making their own choices. Suddenly, a place with “options” becomes a place with very few.
You can help make sure that women are not being tricked into going to a CPC like this one. Join our Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics and take action!