Guest Column

OPEN LETTER: It’s time to stand publicly with pregnancy resource centers

birth mother, adoption

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

When did threats, violence, vandalism, and harassment become acceptable as long as the targets are people or organizations with which you disagree? When did it become acceptable for elected officials to call out those with which they disagree, in order to incite violence and harrassment against some of their constituents? 

Since the Dobbs vs Jackson draft leak, pregnancy centers have been targets of insidious aggression and intimidation by extremists, but it has now extended to blatant harassment in the public square. It is time to say enough is enough. It is time for the burden of standing up to this harassment to be taken off pregnancy centers and for those of us that support pregnancy centers, and those of us that have been helped by pregnancy centers, to stand up and stand with them. 

While extremists continue to hide behind a veil, some public officials and organizations are openly harassing pregnancy centers and inciting action. Thanks to this WGME news story, the public became aware of the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America publishing on their website that their Abortion Working Group meeting would include “leaving google reviews and booking appointments on ABBA’s [a pregnancy center’s] sight [sic]”.

Pregnancy centers all over the country have been rectifying fake Google reviews, and many have reported having fake appointments booked online, or their inboxes inundated with spam appointment requests. No longer are these organizations even attempting to hide the fact that they are behind the lies.

READ: 5 reasons why Senator Elizabeth Warren is wrong to want to ‘shut down’ pregnancy centers

Interestingly, the Maine Democratic Socialists of America chapter’s code of conduct states: 

Maine DSA aims to build an organization where political disagreements serve as productive contributions to our collective discourse and are a source of learning, not strife. Some strategies for learning across differences include: emphasizing our common values and goals, asking before making assumptions, and seeking feedback from those you don’t agree with. Socialists should hold themselves and one another to high standards of decency and understanding. 

In that vein, all Maine DSA members are expected to adhere to a certain minimal standard of comradely behavior, both online and in person…

This code of conduct applies to all… external forums, such as Twitter… [and] direct messages (text, WhatsApp, Signal, etc)

The Maine DSA code of conduct also includes expected behavior, including “exercise consideration and [sic] in your speech and actions” and “refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech”. Sounds like the Abortion Working Group of the Maine DSA is violating the Maine DSA code of conduct; especially when, the very same evening they met to discuss “leaving google reviews” and “booking fake appointments,” multiple Maine pregnancy centers had an onslaught of fake appointments booked and fake Google reviews to report. To be clear, the Democratic Socialists of America’s website does not include these action steps in their DSA Protect Abortion Chapter Toolkit

I fail to see how instructing members on how to leave fake Google reviews and fake appointments on pregnancy center websites is considered holding yourself to high standards of decency and understanding. How about asking before making assumptions and seeking feedback from those with which you disagree? I would love to know how many pregnancy centers these members of Maine DSA have visited. How many pregnancy centers they have reached out to, in order to learn about their work and how they serve their communities? How did they begin the conversation with emphasizing the common value and goal of serving women in our communities? 

Here is the truth about pregnancy centers. 

Many pregnancy centers have been operating for more than 25 years. If you are treating women poorly, as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Attorney General Maura Healey suggest, then you are not going to continue to exist for decades. When people talk about their negative experiences with an organization, that organization is unlikely to last.

The truth is that most pregnancy centers report that the number one way that clients hear about them is through a family member or friend; you certainly don’t send family members and friends to a place that was a negative experience.

Pregnancy centers serve their communities with varying services, including free pregnancy testing and limited obstetrical ultrasounds, pregnancy and parenting education, help with material needs, community referrals, and after-abortion care. If you are someone advocating for choice, then why are you saying that women should not have the choice to go to a pregnancy center? 

The Charlotte Lozier Institute reports that, in 2019 alone, pregnancy centers provided free services estimated at $270 million — including 500,000 ultrasounds, 732,000 pregnancy tests, 160,200 STI/STD tests, parenting and prenatal education programs, post-abortion support services, nearly 1.3 million packages of diapers, over 300,000 car seats, and nearly 200,000 strollers.

Now is the time to stand with pregnancy centers publicly.

Now is the time for us to not only pray and financially support pregnancy centers, but to link arms with them in the public arena.

Those that believe the deceiving rhetoric put forth need to hear the truth from those of us that support centers or have been helped by a center. Public officials need to witness just how many of their constituents are standing with pregnancy centers.

Let’s join voices in order to drown out the lies. Let’s show that love and hope are courageous in the midst of adversity. Let’s pray that this crusade to bring down pregnancy centers is the vehicle that leads to more people learning the truth about pregnancy centers. And in turn, pregnancy centers will become the most sought-after assistance for those who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

“Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me.” -William Wilberforce

I STAND WITH PREGNANCY CENTERS

Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted by a concerned party who wishes to remain anonymous.

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