This week, the pregnancy center I work for was met with a protest from NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut activists. The protest against our ‘fake clinic,’ as they call it, was meant to be an ambush, but thankfully we received a warning beforehand. At 4pm on Wednesday, a group of women (one wearing a Planned Parenthood shirt) and a couple of men came to our center with signs and prepared chants.
Our pregnancy center has been a trusted part of our community for almost thirty years. In that time we’ve served tens of thousands of clients from across our state. We don’t hide the fact that we are pro-life and faith-based. Thankfully those things have not hindered us from partnering with a number of social services organizations and non-profits in our region. Social workers, domestic violence counselors, drug rehabilitation programs and medical personnel witness us providing quality services at no cost to women and families in need.
Our staff discussed how to best respond to the protest before it took place. We didn’t know if there would be 10 people or 100 outside our doors. After talking with our center affiliation staff and counsel we decided to let our clients and community speak on our behalf. In NARAL’s false report on pregnancy centers, they accuse us of not having any licensed medical staff, of targeting women of color, and of shaming women. They make big claims, but the staff and volunteers of NARAL have never visited our pregnancy center or met any of our clients. We decided to let them see the faces of the women they claim they want to protect and the licensed medical personnel they claim we don’t have.
We let our clients and community members know the accusations that were coming against us. They were hurt by the claims and wanted to help set the record straight. They came to our defense, ready to support the staff and volunteers who have loved and cared for them over the years. We made our signs and waited for the pro-choice activists to arrive.
When NARAL came, they brought signs that said, “Abortion is Healthcare” and the commonly used, “My body, My choice.” They yelled and chanted about fighting the stigma and stopping ‘fake clinics.’ At one point, this group of people (notably all Caucasian) began chanting the phrase, “Stay woke,” a signifying awareness of the struggles facing the Black community. As a Black woman, I had to laugh, because their chant was the exact opposite of what they were doing. We had a beautiful, diverse representation of women and men countering their attack. We had Black and Latina clients expressing through their signs that our center has changed their lives for the better.
None of the NARAL pro-abortion activists wanted to talk to the women. They pass out literature in our community saying we hurt women. They come to our center yelling with signs that we deny women care. Yet when faced with the actual women they claim to desire to protect, they wouldn’t dare talk to them.
They chanted about choice but refused to respect the fact that our clients made their choices and are happy with the outcome. Yelling about abortion rights to both women who have chosen life and to those who are post-abortive was dishonoring of our client’s stories. NARAL made it clear our clients’ choices weren’t valid because they included getting care at a life affirming pregnancy center.
We may not have influenced NARAL CT with our stand, but we stood up to their lies in front of our community. Later NARAL CT posted images of their protest, conveniently erasing every trace of our clients and community members. It’s sadly not surprising that a group who was unwilling to listen to the women of color they accuse us of targeting would exclude those same women from their images.
This week it was our center but tomorrow it may be yours. ExposeFakeClinics.com shares strategies pro-abortion groups have for targeting pregnancy centers. It’s important to look out for fake Google reviews, Yelp pages and even volunteers with wrong motives offering to help your center. We’ve experienced a few of those things in the past year.
I’m grateful we didn’t back down but instead expressed ourselves through hopeful signs. We even offered water bottles to the protestors because we have compassion for them. The battle is raging and it will continue, but we must not give up.
Those of us who work for pregnancy care centers or in the pro-life movement know the work we do is valuable. At the end of the day, our service to women and their families is all that matters.