The Stork Bus ~ by Amarie

The anti-choice crowd is developing a new tactic. As if clinic protesters and the legislating of invasive and unnecessary medical procedures weren’t enough, women seeking abortion care may now have the experience of having to navigate their way through or around a “Save the Storks” bus as they seek to enter an abortion care facility.

This project was highlighted in an article on the anti-abortion Live Action blog March 1, 2012.*

Save the Storks is a project fronted by an amicable looking young vegan hipster named Dave, a fact that is weirdly emphasized at multiple points throughout the article (and likely an attempt to use lifestyle choice as a means to add validity to this young man’s anti-choice endeavors).

As a Christian-affiliated anti-choice group, the Storks project reduces women to little more than animals used to deliver babies to “deserving families” and ultimately seeks to usurp a woman’s right to choose anything but birth as an acceptable end to her pregnancy.

Claiming to be an abortion clinic’s worst nightmare (they must be unaware of the reality of clinic bombings or the assassination of abortion providers), the Dallas, Texas based Save the Storks van is not the first of it’s kind or so-called “moral” persuasion.

Despite the $140,000 price tag, the vehicle is the smallest and lightest of the mobile sonographers; it requires no special permits and can park at a meter or in a standard parking space.

These anti-choice activists are taking advantage of an important loophole; the size and weight of the vehicle allow it to skirt certain parking and permit regulations thus gaining more access to abortion clinic parking areas, and by extension, the patients making their way toward the clinic. They obviously–and hypocritically–believe that their activities should not be subject to regulation.

Save the Storks’ primary goal is to literally place the van as another obstacle in front of abortion clinics and apprehend women as they approach. A free sonogram is used as bait, and the women are literally lured into the bus/van–a small exam room on wheels, plus a restroom–where they then receive Christian counseling, a pregnancy test and/or a sonogram.

The article states that the ultrasound is performed by a licensed sonographer and reviewed by an OB/GYN, but there is no such clarification about the use of a licensed counselor or if they are offering medically sound information, free of religious bias. The author later states that when a woman is convinced to not terminate, she is sent to a nearby crisis pregnancy center, so it seems unlikely that accurate medical information is a part of the Save the Storks agenda.

Though they claim to be concerned with the well being of the mother, Save the Storks mission ends when the woman leaves the bus and enters the nearby pregnancy center–she then becomes the responsibility of the CPC and any churches which (may or may not) help fund them via donations from constituents. If the church can’t or won’t help, she is on her own again.

“Our ministry is designed to meet all the needs of the woman,” claims Daryl, another Save the Storks volunteer. “At the pregnancy center, every mother will receive whatever her personal situation calls for, be it help with affordable medical care, legal aid to escape from an abusive boyfriend, life skills counseling, mental health counseling, spiritual guidance, and more.”

When the question of cost is brought up, Dave responds,”The churches need to stand up and start giving to their local pregnancy centers.”

The wishful thinking attached to Dave’s promise of assistance is that the local churches ought to donate more to the pregnancy centers–not that they are receiving enough money to shoulder this burden already, but because these services ought to be provided to the women, the churches ought to give them enough money to make it happen.

The responsibility to fulfill the promise of help offered by the Stork project is passed along to an entity outside of the organization where they have absolutely no control over the appropriation of services and no way to guarantee that assistance can or will be provided.

Perhaps Dave’s downtown loft apartment and vegan-hipster lifestyle have blinded him to the financial reality of donation-based services, and more importantly the financial reality of most of the women he and his fellow anti-choice volunteers are trying to coerce and then carelessly pawn off on someone else.

Beneath the pretty facade of promises made–a means to the project’s desired end– there is no stability. The strategy in place is to make any assurance necessary to convince women that their lives will be made better by carrying the pregnancy to term, by giving birth, but the Stork project (specifically) and the pregnancy centers (in general) offer nothing substantial to actually help women and children thrive.

As is common practice with CPCs, promises upon promises are made, but very few are kept. Crisis pregnancy centers, have a history of not providing promised services once a pregnancy is carried to term, and even prenatal assistance is rationed.

Servalbear, a clinic escort, recalls from personal experience that, “Our CPC in Louisville does not provide help to every pregnancy. They do offer help on a sliding scale and if you are married you are on the bottom end of the scale because your husband should “provide.” We also hear reports of promises before delivery that never materialize after delivery. I talked to a woman passing on the sidewalk two weeks ago who said she was promised all kinds of things, but when she wouldn’t give the baby up for adoption they never followed through on the promises.”

The practice of basing postpartum services on the decision to put the child up for adoption shines another negative light on the animal imagery selected by the founders of the Stork project.  There is an implication here that these women themselves are not deserving of motherhood, but that they exist–as faceless storks– to thanklessly produce and deliver children to so-called worthy people.

While the Stork project has doubtlessly worked hard to craft an image and approach that is less abrasive than that of the stereotypical clinic protesters, their goal is equally single minded and dismissive of women’s autonomy, choice, and well being. Additionally, there is an undeniable creep factor associated with operating from and enticing women into their vans. The practice, as with most fanatical anti-choice activity, is unsettling and reeks of exploitation and deceit.

Insidiously enough, the article even states that “…Because they don’t have to lead with agenda, there are no warning bells for a desperate and defensive mother. There is only a friendly face…” to lure the women into a van where they can be privately bombarded by manipulative language and information that is definitively religiously biased and likely medically inaccurate.

Even the usage of the image of the stork is dismissive and trivializing of women’s role in pregnancy and the risks we face in carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth. While the stork may be considered a whimsical and innocuous image associated with pregnancy, it treats the women as non-human vessels for “unborn children.”

Though the Stork bus volunteers may claim that their focus and concern is equally rationed between the potential mother and her “unborn child,” the reduction of women to storks and the careless passing of the women from Stork van to CPC is a blatant instance of who-cares-how-the-baby-gets-here-and-who-or-what-brings-it, as long as a baby born (but not necessarily cared for) is the end result.

This mindset also solidifies the notion that these people’s focus is not on the health and life of the woman, but on ensuring that a baby is born regardless of complicating circumstances during the pregnancy or after the birth.

For the moment, Save the Storks is a Dallas based project, but they intend to expand into a national anti-choice entity.

*All links to anti-abortion websites have been omitted purposely. Please use Google or message us separately if you would like a citation for sources.

14 thoughts on “The Stork Bus ~ by Amarie

  1. Charles Bass says: My hope for any women is that they don’t feel abortion is the only and best option. Would you not agree?

    No, I don’t agree. My hope for any woman is that they make the decision that’s right for them in conjunction with their doctor and family and that everyone else mind their own business. That’s what a “true pro-choice” person wants.

    And “true pro-choice woman” cracked me up. Like there’s a single prototype for us to adhere to. Smh…

  2. I think a true pro-choice woman would want to explore every choice available. My hope for any women is that they don’t feel abortion is the only and best option. Would you not agree? Situations change and people grow and lots of women deeply regret their abortions. Some don’t. Let them see all the options and if they can walk out of that vehicle still wanting an abortion, so be it! That is their legal right to do so and no one is going to stop them. Lets not fight the other side so hard. I think it’s possible to work together to create a situation where no one walks away from an abortion wishing they had their baby back.

    • There are plenty of resources outside of Stork buses and CPCs that, being operated by “true” pro-choice people, offer factual information to pregnant women about their options and access to real places where they can obtain assistance if they decide to carry to term. One of the major points of contention here is that these people claim to be resources to help desperate women, but their focus is not on the woman in need.
      The primary goal is that a child be born, so they are willing to say and do just about anything to make sure that goal is achieved. They lie to women about the risks associated with continuing a pregnancy or choosing abortion. They lie about links between abortion and breast cancer. They lie about the percentage of women who eventually regret choosing abortion. They promise resources to help new mothers, then deny service once the child is born.
      It would be one thing if this were truly a woman-centered service that genuinely intended to help the women they convince not to abort, but they literally–in the same day–send her on to another person (in a different organization) once they convince her to change her mind.
      This is *not* a resource and should not be defended as something that genuinely seeks to help women maintain a healthy pregnancy or healthy family once the child is born. This is just another road block plastered with misinformation and emotional blackmail.
      I agree that it would be ideal to create a situation where no one regretted having an abortion, but using deception and obstruction is not the way to do it.

    • *I think a true pro-choice woman would want to explore every choice available. My hope for any women is that they don’t feel abortion is the only and best option.*

      This is a very manipulative statement. Yes I would like every truly pro-choice woman out there to feel like she could given all of her options in a nonjudgmental, truthful manner so she could evaluate her own circumstances and come to her own decision of whether or not continuing her pregnancy would be best for her life and her family.

      What you fail to realize is that sometimes an abortion is the best and only option for a women and that this decision can be made after much careful introspection and consultation with her family, her doctor and her chosen god/spirituality (if she has any). There are exactly as many abortions happeneing as there needs to happen ebcause there will always be some women out there who do not want to be pregnant and do not want a child. Nothing but an abortion can take away the absolute disruption a pregnancy can cause to a women’s life, family, work and health.

      There should be places a woman can go for all of her options counseling, places that do not offer contraction or abortions BUT only pregnancy options counseling, these safe places would have not be affiliated with any religious organizations and should be committed to giving her accurate information without coercion or manipulation. They cannot be faith based initiatives, who lie and coerce, who have no interest in her or her families well being and only care about the pregnancy, they cannot duplicitively set up shop next to a family planning facility and deceptively mimic it to trick women inside. They cannot show third trimester abortions and pass them off as what happens during a first trimester abortion, they cannot expose children to that kind of imagery, to shock and terrorize. They should have counselors with appropriate credentials and sonograms techs who are trained and licensed. CPCs are a joke and so is the Stork Mobile if they cannot live up one simple standard – honesty. If they cannot speak the truth and give medically accurate information to women in need they have no place. If they cannot rove their point without mendacity and with alacrity, without guilt or shame. If like you they resort to sophistry, they have no place, no leg to stand upon.

      And while there are a few woman may come to regret their abortion, studies bear out that many do not regret their’s and to curtail the rights of all to ensure a few do not make a mistake demeans all women, restricts their freedom of choice and yes freedom to make mistakes creates a nanny state. Regret is also not synonymous with wishing they had never had the abortion, regret can also come from regretting they were in that situation, regret that their birth control failed, regretting that they lost the relationship that crated the pregnancy, regretting the shame, social disapproval and guilt others heaped upon them for their well intention and thought out choice. They can also regret that they had no formal space to grieve the chosen loss of their pregnancy. Regret doesn’t always mean regretting the fetal loss.

      (Mis)Understanding Abortion Regret
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/symb.11/full

  3. There is nothing creepy at all about a strange man asking random women to get in the back of his panel van to be probed for no medical reason . However, if there was a stork in my uterus I would want it out as soon as possible.

      • Sometimes there is nothing to do but laugh at these silly ideas like roaming panel vans performing misleading medical tests. If women really just want to get in an unregulated van to look at “their baby” then I am all for that. However, the purpose of the visit needs to be made clear up front. It also needs to be made clear to women before they begin the procedure that this ultrasound is not done for the purpose of medical diagnosis/prenatal care and that they will need to repeat the procedure if they choose to go forward the pregnancy or get an abortion. Also, it’s not like women don’t know that carrying a pregnancy to term is an option. It is the option that society drills into women. What people fail to grasp is that abortion is the only option for a woman who does not wish to be pregnant. I am a huge fan adoption but it isn’t the answer for everyone. Adoption isn’t a sure thing and can be held up by complicated family issues including an abusive relationship where the sperm donor has no interest in parenting or even financially supporting the child brought to term but will refuse to legally relinquish paternal rights because doing so gives them another way to stay in contact with a partner who wants to get away from them. The bottom line is I don’t know all the answers, or even the answer for most women. Neither does a hipster vegan with a panel van so spends a half hour with women before shunting them off onto a CPC who also doesn’t have answers besides “just have the baby” and either abstain from sex, use “natural family planning” if married and trust God even though they can’t afford the children they already have.

  4. Well-written post, Amarie, about this rising tactic from the anti’s. You are so right about their general attitude that women are just vessels to deliver babies. Not looking forward to the day when one of these buses plops itself in front of EMW.

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