January 16, 2006

The nonpolitical abortion opponents.

The NYT writes:
"The media attention has all gone to the political wing," said James R. Kelly, a professor of sociology at Fordham University in New York who has written about the history of abortion in America. "But the first national organizations in the movement were not political; they were service groups that provided direct aid to women so they would not abort. These are low-key and hidden, but they were always there and had more volunteers than the political side."
The methods are rather deceptive:
... Woman's Choice is designed to look and feel like a medical center, not a religion-based organization with an agenda. Becky Edmondson, the executive director, said the center chose the look and name to reach women who were bombarded with pressures to abort and might think they had no other choice.

If callers ask how much the center charges to perform an abortion, Lisa Arnold, a counselor and leader of the postabortion group, said: "I say, 'It changes, but why don't you come in for an ultrasound and we'll talk about it.' You don't want to deceive them, but you want a chance to talk to them." Once women come to the center, staff members - who oppose abortion even in cases involving rape and incest - encourage them to make further appointments, and refer them to doctors who share the center's views on abortion.


Unknown said...

It is not deceptive unless you believe abortion is the only option. By styling the place after an abortion clinic, they are presenting the place as an legitimate, equal option to abortion.

I know pro-choice advocates are inclined to assign sinister, chauvinist motivations to pro-lifers, but that is a way too kneejerk, unreasoned reaction. Pro-lifers are genuinely trying to protect what they believe is a life that cannot protect himself.

There's nothing sinster about that.

Robert said...

Very well said, Jamie.

And also: it's not "designed to look like a medical facility," it IS a medical facility. Just because the place doesn't offer abortions doesn't make it any less medical than an abortion climic. The employees there, in general, will not have medical degrees, but they're not required to have them at abortion clinic either.

Simon said...

I concur entirely with Jamie. Hostility to counselling of alternatives seems yet another part of the pro-choice lobby's web of fiction that abortion is a routine medical choice (rather than a last resort, and an unpleasent one at that, as I think it safe to say that most people, self described as pro choice or not, regard it); if it is merely a routine medical choice, there's no need for counselling, and no need to discuss alternatives. Of course, if one believes that abortion is anything other than a routine medical choice, the suggestion of counselling and discussion of alternatives becomes not only reasonable, but if anying, its absence becomes irresponsible.

I would actually be prepared to go so far as to say that counselling should be required (or at least, explicitly waived) before any kind of elective surgery (it hardly rises to the level of a burden if the person is actually aware of the alternatives and is actually of sound mind), let alone one which involves the murder of an infant.

Unknown said...

Jamie -

I recognize that the people at the Women's Choice center mean well. However, when a woman calls them for an abortion, and they say the price varies and that the woman should come in to find out more, they are implicitly telling her that they DO offer abortions. It is fundamentally dishonest, though they might technically only be omitting to tell the truth. An honest approach would be encouraging the woman to come in for counseling.

Sometimes when we care very much about an outcome we are willing to turn a blind eye to how that outcome is achieved.

pst314 said...

Sounds like bait-and-switch to me.

Anonymous said...

It is not deceptive unless you believe that abortion is the only option.

You're wrong. The clinic is engaging in deception. The question was not "how much will it cost me to deal with my pregnancy which I want to terminate," the question was "how much do you charge for abortions."

If you called up a restaurant and asked how much the meat entrees cost and the maitre d' said "Oh, they vary," and then you got there and found out that it was a vegan restaurant, wouldn't you feel deceived? Lied to? But meats not the only option, veggies are food, too (and more ethical in many ways).

If you want to take the moral high road, don't lie. That's pretty basic, even if it's inconvenient for achieving your goals.

vbspurs said...

Very well said, Jamie.

Seconded, and how.

And also: it's not "designed to look like a medical facility," it IS a medical facility. Just because the place doesn't offer abortions doesn't make it any less medical than an abortion climic.

To pad my resume before applying to Medical School, I volunteered at a Catholic-centric health clinic, along the lines mentioned.

There, young, usually working-class women would come for abortions, but the centre provided them with excellent health care, counselling, and a place to come with their babies, after its birth.

What struck me, was the quiet dedication of the people who worked there.

They weren't there with selfish motives like me. They genuinely wanted to help these girls out by providing them with an alternative.

Their rate of success was (to me, at least), extraordinary. I think over 50% had their babies.

The amount of cards these would-not-be mums sent the clinic, thanking them for existing and saving the life of their babies, when they were going through a rough patch, made me cry.

I left, edified forever at the strength and dignity of the unheralded side of the pro-life movement.

P.S.: There were no men volunteers -- except the attending OB-GYN clinicians. The amount of women OB-GYNs in abortion clinics, I have been led to believe, is quite high.


vbspurs said...

"Oh, they vary,"

Waiter, there's a foetus in my soup.


Ross said...

This is phenomenon was, imho, brilliantly sent up in the movie "Citizen Ruth," Alexander Payne's first movie. He doesn't spare the pro-choicers either. Yes, if you've been hunting for a comedy about abortion politics, this is your movie.

Ann Althouse said...

Ross: Yes, the article made me think about "Citizen Ruth" too. Excellent movie.

CCMCornell said...

This reminds me of a recent episode of Law and Order: SVU - S7E9 - Rockabye. A clinic that advocates alternatives plays a role, but the doctor crosses the line by stalling patients with false diagnoses until late-term when abortions are forbidden by law.

P_J said...

I agree that deception is wrong.

Over 90% of abortion-minded women choose to keep their babies after they see the ultrasound.

Guess which facility won't show the ultrasound.

Anonymous said...

Pastor_Jeff, I can't guess. Can you tell me which women's health care facilities refuse to show women ultrasounds, with a reference to a disinterested verification?

OhioAnne said...

I don't feel comfortable with telling a woman that "the price varies", but see no problem with telling a woman that she had to come into the clinic in order to get that information. Individual situations often require individual responses.

Neither side - pro-choice or pro-life - are paragons of virtue in this area in my opinion. Each tailors the message given to women to the result they hope to see.

Beth said...

If there is no abortion, and thus no price, then there is no price to vary. It's a lie. That makes these folks liars.

As for the Law and Order episode, that one was "ripped from the headlines!" as the show advertises. It happened here, in Louisiana, a few years back. There was no clinic, just one guy answering a phone and making appointments for abortions, then putting them off until it was unsafe or illegal. That would make him a liar, too.

P_J said...


I bet you can guess.

I'm not sure there are any disinterested parties repoting on this, but here are a few:

In 2003, Republicans presented a Congressional bill that would have provided up to half the cost of ultrasound equipment and gone only to nonprofit centers that do not charge for services.

"They don't want women to go to Planned Parenthood, where they'll get their full range of options," said Alison Herwitt, director of government relations for NARAL Pro-Choice America in Washington. "They just want them to go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women will be exposed to this weapon at taxpayers' expense."

Kathryn Allen, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, griped: "With all the problems going on in our world, I can't imagine that Congress would spend its time and energy on ultrasound for anyone."

Planned Parenthood of Michigan opposed a bill requiring abortion providers to provide pregnant women with ultrasound pictures of the fetus.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois supported a bill requiring a physician's order or approval before ultrasound can be performed on a pregnant woman (which would effectively prohibit pro-life centers from performing ultrasounds).

James R Ament said...

Try to imagine this: Side by side are two "medical" clinics. One has a sign that says, "We're here to give you health 'choices' regarding your pregnancy and help you through which ever one you choose. If your mind is made up to kill your baby, go next door."

The other clinic has a sign that says, "Support the abortion industry. We need your business. Come here for cheap, easy fetal tissue eliminations. No questions asked."

Or something like that. Now wouldn't that be closer to "truth telling" for each?

michael farris said...

"We're here to give you health 'choices' regarding your pregnancy and help you through which ever one you choose. If your mind is made up to kill your baby, go next door."

No warning bells there! But seriously, something tells me that if the 'whichever' ends up being abortion then she's not going to be getting much help from these people.

I wouldn't mind some sort of regulations requiring pre-abortion counselling except that the chances of an impartial counsellor* who'll support whatever decision is made is less than zero (much, much less most likely).

I agree that 'it varies' (or anything but "we don't offer abortions but we can give you some alternatives") is a very dishonest answer that can only be justified if you regard the ends (talking a woman out of an abortion) as justifying those particular means (passing yourself off as a clinic where abortion is available).

*my definition: regards abortion as one option and one that is most likely to have longterm (probably unpleasant) consequences but doesn't regard it as 'killing your baby!'

James R Ament said...

Michael Ferris,

Yes, my 'imagined' sign of the pro life clinic was a bit over the top! I do know there are many caring people out there that would give real help, counseling someone after an abortion, rather than rejecting them as suggested. My point was to illustrate that deception and trickery isn't appropriate on either side. The abortion promoters "sell" that they care "more" about a woman's health, then try to block anything, e.g. ultrasound pictures, that might sway a woman to actually have the baby, as though that option is somehow terrible. Why? Because it's an industry that needs unchallenged growing demand and a thriving supply side. Why else are they upset about South Dakota having no abortion clinic? And, of course, abortion is leagal in SD. The abortion promoters should be more up front about it. "Hey, we got a business to run here; we don't want more women having babies. We're looking for 6% growth in 2006!" Cynical? Probably. But untrue? I don't think so.