The subject of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) comes up frequently when you are speaking of abortion rights. There are several complete definitions and examples of their practices available in Google searches. There are two examples below. I encourage you to go to the full articles and read about these clinics and their tactics.
- A crisis pregnancy center (CPC), sometimes called a pregnancy resource center (PRC), is a non-profit organization established to counsel pregnant women against having an abortion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_pregnancy_center
- Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be very difficult. It may be made even more difficult by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They have a history of giving women wrong, biased information to scare them into not having abortions. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/standard-21507.htm
There are CPC centers in every state. The total number is estimated to be around 4,000 CPCs in the US. There are around 700 of these CPCs licensed for special medical services. Therefore about 18% of the existing CPCs are licensed to provide limited diagnostic medical services. http://www.naral.org/media/fact-sheets/abortion-cpcs.pdf
We have two CPCs, one next door and one within one block of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Both are called A Woman’s Choice (AWC) and they are operated under the same corporation. The corporation name is A Choice for Life, a corporation formed by Southeast Christian Church. AWC is a separate non-profit corporation affiliated with the church, but they share board members.
There are so many lies and half-truths we hear on the street from their counselors I wanted to clarify some things.
First, we are told by their sidewalk counselors the AWC location is a medical clinic just the same as the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Well, not exactly.
EMW is licensed by the State of Kentucky as an ambulatory gynecological surgery clinic. They have doctors, nurses and counselors present every day at the clinic.
AWC is licensed by the State of Kentucky as a Special Health Clinic. This is a medical clinic that allows for limited medical services. These services AWC is authorized to provide include counseling, pregnancy testing and performance of ultrasounds.
- Section 2. Scope of Operations and Services. Special health clinics are institutions which provide limited health services, on an outpatient basis. These services include: family planning clinics, pulmonary care clinics, disability determination clinics, weight loss clinics, speech and hearing clinics, wellness centers, counseling centers, and any clinic which only provides diagnostic services. http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/902/020/260.htm
AWC is required to have personnel including one physician and one nurse. The physician is required to be present for consultation once a week and be available within one hour by phone. There is no time specification for the licensed nurse to be available. They just need to be able to review medical records. The counselors are the full-time, ever-present personnel. They do not have to be licensed. Some are employees and some are volunteers. The counselors and employees of AWC do not confine themselves to the buildings and engage in sidewalk counseling daily.
The medical director for AWC is Dr. William R. Cutrer. In addition to being a licensed OB/GYN physician, he is an ordained minister and author of several books. “The Church Leader’s Handbook” is one of his that includes long passages on anti-abortion repeating a lot of the myths surrounding abortion. Dr. Cutrer stresses in his writing the first thing in counseling someone who has had an abortion is to have them acknowledge their sin.
- A Woman’s Choice links the church to a national network of crisis pregnancy centers and post abortion groups that share marketing strategies, legal advice and literature emphasizing what they say are the harmful effects of abortion – including increased risk of breast cancer and a psychological condition called post abortion syndrome, which are considered scientifically unsupported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Psychological Association. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc
The most common thing we hear on the sidewalk is, “Why don’t you come next door for a free ultrasound? It will only take a minute.” That’s a pretty good deal: free ultrasound. You can verify if you are pregnant and approximately how many weeks. Well, maybe not such a good deal.
- Though the center has a medical doctor and nurse practitioner on staff, the main function of the free ultrasound sessions is persuasive, not diagnostic, said Dr. Bill Cutrer, the center’s medical director. “The primary purpose is to show them that it’s not a clump of tissues but a human being,” Dr. Cutrer said. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc
Even the AWC website does not say free ultrasounds for everyone.
- Is everyone who comes in guaranteed an ultrasound?
- No. There are factors that determine eligibility for a free ultrasound. Your counselor will ask you a series of questions to determine your eligibility. (web link omitted purposely)
The series of questions they ask is to determine how high at risk the client is for getting an abortion. The more the counselors consider you to be likely to get an abortion, the more likely you will be to get a free ultrasound. (see Dr. Cutrer’s comment above)
There are so many articles written on the deceptive practices of CPCs. We have seen all of the following used at AWC:
- Not acknowledging they are not the abortion clinic while talking to a client. Many clients have been counseled for up to an hour before they realize they are not in the right clinic.
- Offering food and drink to a client when they first come in. This will not allow them to get an abortion the same day.
- Separating clients from their companions by taking them alone into a back exam room.
- Keeping client clothing from them until they are finished counseling, despite repeated requests to return them
- Keeping client ID and/or medical records
- Lying about having an ultrasound at their facility would reduce the EMW Clinic bill by $250. AWC and EMW have no connection and services performed by AWC are not accepted by EMW.
There are stories escorts can tell of clients running out of AWC when they find out where they are; companions calling the police to help them get a client outside AWC and into EMW; clients having to pull their ID from the counselor’s hands; clients having to come up with additional funds because of delays or lies; sobbing, traumatized clients finally arriving at the correct clinic.
Given the “free ultrasound” results, would you want to go to AWC for a free pregnancy test? EMW charges $5 for the test without all of the discussion of morality. I know that even $5 is hard to spare for a lot of people. Planned Parenthood can help with the same tests usually at no or low cost, also without religious lecturing. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/centerDetails.asp?f=3290&a=90590&v=details#!service=pregnancy-testing-options
Much of the help AWC offers work like their ultrasounds and are on a contingency basis. If you go to them and want the baby, you will receive less help than the client who wants an abortion and wanders in by mistake. Married women also generally receive less tangible help and more counseling. The offers of maternity clothes and baby supplies are available by appointment and two mornings a week. If you are faced with an unwanted pregnancy some help is better than no help, but you cannot count on a lot of help. We have had clients of AWC report promises of material help as promises not being kept.
Adoption referrals they offer are suspect as well. Southeast Christian Church has an adoption referral service not affiliated directly with AWC, but I would think they would utilize this service. (web link omitted purposely)
There have been so many complaints about CPCs coercing clients into carrying their pregnancy to full term so they can give the baby for adoption to loving, Christian homes deemed better able to raise children. There is no evidence this practice goes on specifically at AWC, but it wouldn’t surprise me since it fits into the pattern of operation for most of the CPCs.
- While there is growing awareness of how CPCs hinder abortion access, the centers have a broader agenda that is less well known: they seek not only to induce women to “choose life” but to choose adoption, either by offering adoption services themselves, as in Bethany’s case, or by referring women to Christian adoption agencies. Far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children. http://www.thenation.com/article/shotgun-adoption?page=0,0
When escorts hear sidewalk counselors from AWC say, “Just come inside for a minute. What harm could it do?” it is hard not to react. We know they will not be in there for a minute. We know they will be lied to about medical facts and misled on other issues all in the disguise of helping them.
When the sidewalk counselors lead a client into their building, it is hard to remain impartial to the action. We don’t know what persuaded the client to make the decision to enter AWC. We know the lies the antis tell and hope the client does too. We respect their decision and trust they are doing what is best for them and their families.
My contempt is directed towards the staff of AWC and the other antis who do not feel it is necessary to tell the truth about so many things. Their end goal of stopping abortion access is the only important agenda item for them.
My anger is directed to our state and national governments. We have over four times as many CPCs as there are abortion clinics in the US. (4,000 CPCs/682 abortion clinics) Government funding of the operations of these CPCs and the funding shift to abstinence-only sex education in schools has me feeling enraged about the betrayal of our health care and education to win the votes of religious fundamentalists.
- Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are not new to the American cultural landscape. For over three decades, they have provided pregnancy options counseling from an antiabortion perspective. But CPCs are relatively new to the political scene. The last few years have seen a sudden groundswell in both federal and state legislation designed to support and promote them. To date, such efforts have largely focused on two goals: securing direct or indirect government subsidies for CPCs and raising their profile and stature in the public eye. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/2/gr050204.html
Really, why should we be proud of states that funnel money for license plates directly to the CPCs? http://www.kychoose-life.org/about_us.php
There is a tiny silver lining in my anger. The yellow Choose Life Kentucky license plates are helpful to escorts for identifying protesters parking in front of the EMW clinic. We only have to view the back license plate to know they are at the clinic to protest.
From personal experience (this is my experience of AWC): they hold themselves out to be an organization that cares about helping poor, single mothers. They do in fact, give out a small amount of diapers and clothing, which can be enormously helpful. BUT, when I went in for some help with diapers many years ago they went on and on about my religious affiliation (none) and my marital status (my partner and I weren’t married, but were living together) and could they pray for me, tell me about Jesus, etc. I explained a number of times that I really wasn’t interested in prayers or salvation stories. Had I not been in desperate need, I would have walked out in the first five minutes. They kept me “in conversation” for an hour, the entire time trying to shame me.
We hear your story from other people too. I usually say “Free” is not always free of everything.
Thank you for sharing your story,
We NEED to stop the funding of CPC’s on the government level! No funding for abortions, no funding for CPC’s! Thank you for making me aware of this issue. And thank you for inspiring me to become a clinic escort in my state.
I hope you do become an escort in your state. All of the clinics are under siege in a lot of ways. Escorts are always looking for people to join them. Our hope is to bring the reality of CPCs and anti-abortion protesters to the public when we write our articles.
Thank you for reading,
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I wasn’t at risk for abortion at all with my wanted and planned pregnancy but I was sent to a CPC by the state of Texas for a Pregnancy Confirmation or Medicaid. Despite not being at all “at risk” for an abortion I was given an ultrasound and was made to feel like an incubator the entire time, preached at, prayed for and was generally dismissed as a brooding mare. The sonographer was completely inept and it took her over an hour to find all of the fetal landmarks that only took the sonographer at the midwifery clinic moments to find – I was16 weeks. I laid there gel and wand pressing into my belly, tears welling up in my eyes wishing I could get up and get out of there but I felt pinned down, this was my mother’s and husband’s first glimpse at the fetus – so I let it ride despite how hurt I was feeling. To this day I wish I had shoved the wand off of me and endured the confusion from my mother and spouse and hightailed it. Of course they had been forbidden to be with me for the pregnancy test and consultation, they had no idea that I had just been admonished for my previous abortion, told I was going to hell for it, preached at, prayed for and in general bullied by one of their counselors.
Even when the pregnancy was planned, conceived in love, wanted and cherished these CPCs will still put you through the ringer and leave a horrible taste in your mouth.
Funny enough how Planned Parenthood could have given me the same Confirmation of Pregnancy but they were left off the list that was given to me by the state.
This must have been so painful for you to go through, especially since you planned and wanted the pregnancy. Planned Parenthood has been cut off a lot of the lists of approved providers in several states in favor of the CPCs. It puts unnecessary stress on many woman. The approach of the CPCs is like Dr. Cutrer’s book. They have tactics of bullying, shaming, blaming and humiliation. I wish it were different for all women. One of three women will get an abortion by the age of 45. You have many more people who support your choices, abortion then and motherhood now, than will consider you a “sinner.”
Again, thank you for sharing your story.
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Give me liberty or give me death. Thank you for this excellent information about the kind, loving, well-meaning yet sadly misinformed antichoicers.