"Loose Women, Go Home!"
"Loose Women, Go Home!"
Those were the words shouted at me and the other women who were protesting a fundraiser for the Agape Crisis Pregnancy Center yesterday afternoon.
If you have never heard of them, Crisis Pregnancy Centers are facilities that purport to counsel women who have unwanted pregnancies. They are funded by a mix of private donations and tax dollars. In Texas, there are currently 38 Crisis Pregnancy Centers that receive millions of dollars from the state. Most are religiously affiliated.
The problem? Crisis Pregnancy Centers are not staffed with medical personnel, they present false information about abortion and birth control, and they use manipulation and psychological coercion to shame women into making reproductive choices that may not be in their best interests. They are highly biased and they do not offer resources for abortion as an option.
Abortion is such a difficult topic to discuss. As evidenced by the gentleman who shouted at us as he drove by, there is a stigma around women seeking abortions. Women are shamed and infantilized when seeking pregnancy termination. Their personal agency is called into question.
As a physician, I am appalled that these facilities continue to present "medical information" that is flatly false, and that they use my tax dollars to do so.
In an attempt to document what happens in these facilities, pro-choice groups have sent members into them, posing as women who are pregnant and seeking counseling. Women are told that abortion will have long-term negative health and psychological effects. They are told that birth control pills cause cancer, and that some induce abortions. All of this information is false.
I am strongly in favor of working to reduce unintended pregnancies. I want all women to be prepared, healthy, and happy when they become parents. Frankly, I cannot imagine having an abortion myself.
But that is a failure of my imagination.
I have not, and will never, walk in the shoes of another woman faced with a pregnancy that they are unable or unwilling to carry to term. Because of this, I have no right to determine what choice they should make.
There are effective ways to reduce abortions. Studies have shown that providing women with long acting birth control with no out of pocket expense reduces abortion rates by up to two-thirds. Creating a robust financial safety net including paid family leave, subsidized child care, and guaranteed health insurance would give the 73% of women who cite financial concerns as a reason for abortion the support they need to carry their pregnancies to term.
Lying to women is not the answer. Shaming women will not work.
Let's work together to preserve the protections of Roe v. Wade while finding ways to support women, their children, and their families.