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.