We’re too fucking lazy to do any research on a blogger we’re discussing or Planned Parenthood but that’s not going to stop us from tut-tuting.
Now, not so short: The blogger that they are discussing can be found right here and it’s fairly obvious that their dismissive attitude towards her is the result of the fact that they could care less about the details of the situation when those details would just get in the way of a good old-fashioned pecking party; all pursed lips and condescending “we’re praying for her” insincerity.
A report in July from congressional Democrats found that the federal government has contributed $30 million to antiabortion pregnancy centers since 2001. Most of that money paid for sexual abstinence education. But some was distributed as grants to help pay for ultrasound machines, the report found. For example, Life Line Pregnancy Care Center in Loudoun County received a $50,000 federal grant last year to buy a machine.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, based in Fredericksburg, organizes conferences across the country to train nurses on ultrasounds in antiabortion clinics. Nurses are taught to determine whether a pregnancy is viable and to identify the sex. They are not taught to identify developmental problems.
The institute also helps centers complete paperwork to become medical clinics. In most states, the process is fairly simple. The main requirement is for a licensed physician to become the medical director and supervise medical services, though the director does not have to work on site, institute President Thomas A. Glessner said.
A few states, including New York and California, have more stringent inspection and licensing requirements, according to the institute. Maryland and Virginia are not among them. The institute did not analyze D.C. regulations. But the director of an antiabortion pregnancy center in the District that is seeking to become a clinic described an apparently simple application process.
Abortion rights activists are calling for tighter regulations. They say the antiabortion centers mislead women about the health effects of abortion.
Antiabortion networks reply that the information their centers provide is based on scientific research. “We are very careful that everything we present is 100 percent factual,” said Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International.
Defending the decision to locate antiabortion pregnancy centers near abortion clinics, Hartshorn said abortion foes are not seeking “to be deceptive or to trick people, but to be right where they are when they are making decisions.”
But many women say they have felt duped.
The National Abortion Federation has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from women who say they went into pregnancy centers with vague or confusing names, many of them found under “abortion services” headings in the phone book. Rather than receiving unbiased counseling on all of their legal options, these women said, they found themselves listening to frightening, sometimes false, information.
Last year, Allyson Kirk, 24, of Manassas, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, became pregnant and made an appointment at an abortion clinic in Manassas to talk about her options. When she arrived at the office park where the clinic was based, she saw a sign advertising “free pregnancy test” at a center called AAA Women for Choice. She walked in.
Kirk was given some forms to fill out. A woman took a urine sample for her test. While she was waiting for the results, the woman asked a series of questions about her religious beliefs and then told her about high rates of infection, depression and even death among women who had abortions, Kirk said.
When Kirk was shown a video depiction of a fetus’s head being severed during a surgical abortion, she walked out.
“I was outraged,” Kirk said. She recalled saying: “This is horrible. I can’t believe you do this to women who are lost and looking for help.”
The abortion clinic, as it turns out, was next door. Kirk arrived late for her appointment that day and ultimately decided to have an abortion. The decision felt like “a relief,” she said, giving her “another chance” to achieve her goal of finishing school and becoming a veterinarian technician.
…and are dangerous:
The gentler face of the centers makes their health care pretenses slightly more plausible, even if their function is primarily political. Sarah Wheat said she and her staff regularly make phone calls to crisis pregnancy centers to learn more about the services offered there and, as a general rule, these pseudo-clinics have few or no paid employees, no medical personnel on staff and no real facilities to provide any medical care. Generally speaking, the medical treatment provided by the largely volunteer staff is nothing more than handing clients a pregnancy test that could be purchased over the counter for $10.
A friend warned me to be careful when contacting crisis pregnancy centers, as they are known to give callers the runaround, refusing to give information over the phone and asking you to come in for an appointment. Curious, I called Austin Life Care, a prominent local crisis pregnancy center and grilled the unlucky receptionist about the services offered. She said they offered pregnancy tests and counseling. When I asked about the credentials of the counselors, she replied, “Well, we have all different levels of education and some of them are really academic.”
I followed up by asking what kind of medical staff they had on hand and she replied, “Well, we have sonographers.”
When I asked her what a sonographer was, she was curt: “It’s someone who can do your sonogram.”
Actually performing a sonogram on a client probably adds to the illusion that crisis pregnancy centers are providing care. In fact, this allure explains why there’s a bill pending in Congress to grant crisis pregnancy centers ultrasound machines, despite the fact that having a sonogram performed by an unsupervised technician could be dangerous. Dr. Diana Kroi, the ob-gyn who authored “Take Control of Your Period,” explained that ultrasounds need a trained physician to look for problems like ectopic pregnancies and other dangerous indications that a woman’s health is imperiled.
If a woman who’s had an ultrasound mistakenly thinks she’s had actual prenatal care, she may not go elsewhere for real care. Anti-choicers are banking on the ultrasound’s appeal as a pre-born snapshot machine, though it’s an actual diagnostic tool, or as the Mayo Clinic puts it, “[Ultrasound] isn’t meant primarily to provide parental thrills or souvenir snapshots,” and it’s irresponsible to treat it as if it were. This is especially irresponsible in a setting where clients are being told that Planned Parenthood and other affordable clinics are nothing but abortion mills who want to hurt the woman and the expected baby.
So it’s possible that these centers are not only detrimental to those women seeking abortions, they could be inadvertently stopping women from obtaining proper prenatal care. And from what I could gather on the website, most of the “counseling” available is for the only syndrome that crisis pregnancy centers show any interest in treating; one they call “post-abortion stress syndrome.” The problem with this syndrome is anti-choice activists made it up. Unlike, say, post-natal depression, neither the American Psychiatric Association nor the American Psychological Association recognizes “post-abortion stress syndrome.” So add proper mental health services to the list of services not rendered
Additionally, the Vent group’s assertion that Planned Parenthood fails to provide counseling and alternatives to abortion is a a flagrant lie, but after misrepresenting the blogger and glossing over the “pregnancy centers” should we really expect anything less?