by Maureen Kramlich
September 13, 2002
Recently the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) issued an alert attacking crisis pregnancy centers. The centers, which NARAL refers to as "fake clinics," offer life-affirming assistance to women with unplanned pregnancies.
NARAL notes that crisis pregnancy centers "outnumber legitimate reproductive clinics by as many as 3 to 1 in some states." The group claims that the centers "fraudulently advertise themselves as health centers, tricking women into believing they provide accurate medical information, even though these so-called clinics almost never employ fully-trained medical staff. Instead, volunteers opposed to choice typically run these centers, offering anti-choice propaganda in the guise of medical advice." In fact, the centers provide: free pregnancy tests (the kinds that can be found in any drug store and performed by anyone); material assistance such as maternity clothes, baby clothes and baby furniture; and referrals to physicians, counselors, job-training programs and housing coordinators.
This alert is the latest effort in a nationwide campaign to shut down crisis pregnancy centers. Early this year, the New York attorney general subpoenaed ten crisis pregnancy centers, to find out how the centers advertise and counsel. In Maryland, abortion rights groups have asked the attorney general to conduct a similar investigation of the centers there.
If abortion rights advocates are so committed to free choice, why are they determined to stop women from choosing crisis pregnancy centers? Because they know, and sometimes even admit, that women rarely choose abortion freely. Often unfortunate circumstances lead women to believe that abortion is their only choice.
A 1996 publication of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the "research arm" of Planned Parenthood, admitted: "With the exception of cohabiting," they said, "the characteristics associated with high abortion rates suggest a lack of financial and social resources and, perhaps, a lack of control over one's life."
Crisis pregnancy centers supply these resources and therefore help women overcome the obstacles that a pregnancy might present. In other words, they help eliminate root causes of abortion. And because the employees and volunteers of these centers are so dedicated and the centers so numerous, they have a real impact on reducing abortion—which in turn reduces abortion profits.
It is worth noting why crisis pregnancy centers are more numerous than abortion clinics.
Last year, in the New York Times, an abortionist explained the nature of his business:
"Abortion clinics are no different from other speciality services, said Dr. William Ramos, who runs an abortion clinic in Las Vegas. 'In the entire state of Nevada, there is only one Lexus dealer and only one Acura dealer'." To generate a profit margin, abortion clinics are located in only one city in the state. Crisis pregnancy centers operate out of a charitable motive, not a profit motive. From their perspective, there is nothing but gain if crisis pregnancy centers are in every town.
As threats against the noble work of crisis pregnancy centers continue, please offer your support to the centers in your area. Women deserve better than the abortion clinic.
Maureen Kramlich is a public policy analyst with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.