Opinion

Women in crisis have a place to go

This weekend I attended my first training session of many required to counsel women at a crisis pregnancy center in Dallas, Texas. I sat with several other women and a few men, including a lovely young couple who boasted of their ten children, and listened to the story of an organization designed and implemented to save lives. St. Joseph’s Helpers (SJH) have run this particular CPC for the past 25 years, one of almost 4,000 in the United States where women who think they may be pregnant can go to get help.

A woman, alone.

This weekend I attended the first training session of many required to counsel women at a crisis pregnancy center in Dallas, Texas. I sat with several other women and a few men, including a lovely young couple who boasted of their ten children, and listened to the story of an organization designed and implemented to save lives. St. Joseph’s Helpers (SJH) have run this particular CPC for the past 25 years, one of almost 4,000 in the United States where women who think they may be pregnant can go to get help.

What kind of help? It depends on the woman. Unlike an abortion clinic, a CPC knows pregnancy is not a “one solution fits all” phenomenon. SJH will provide a free pregnancy test and often even a free sonogram, educate the mother about prenatal care, help her sign up for Medicaid or WIC if she is eligible, counsel her about adoption if she is interested, help her get out of an abusive domestic situation, and even provide her with a place to live.

At the abortion clinic next door, which actually shares a wall with the CPC, they offer one solution, the one the Nazis called the “final solution” for “unwanted” humans: murder.

Another way a CPC differs from an abortion clinic? One is nonprofit. The other is decidedly not.

Every client who comes into this particular CPC in Dallas is required to view a 27-minute video, which was produced for SJH around the time of their inception. Our trainer, who has been with SJH for the entire 25 years, called it “stellar,” despite its age.

I have to agree. As part of our training, we were required to watch the video. I consider myself fairly well-educated on the subject of abortion, but I learned a few things about fetal development and abortion procedures, and I was affected considerably by the few graphic images of aborted children interspersed throughout.

Our trainer defended the practice of showing these images to women in crisis pregnancies by quoting Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life: “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.”

I agree with this statement. Although I believe there is a time and a place for such images, a woman who may be considering going next door to have her baby killed needs a strong dose of Truth. She needs to know, immediately and unequivocally, that what is inside her is not a clump of cells but a living human being.

Our trainer told us that almost every woman she counsels says, after watching the video, “I had no idea…”

We should rejoice that, according to several reputable pro-life sources, the number of abortion clinics in the United States has dropped from a peak of more than 2,000 in 1991 to fewer than 800 today. We should rejoice further to know that in America, for every place a woman can go to have her baby killed, there are about 5 places she can go to get help. This is wonderful, edifying news to the pro-life community.

However, there are some who think CPCs are not so wonderful, and it’s not just those who make money committing abortions.

The September 14, 2009, issue of The Nation, a long-standing progressive political magazine, included an article titled “Shotgun Adoption” by Kathryn Joyce. In it, Ms. Joyce summed up the existence of CPCs thusly: “nonprofit pregnancy-testing facilities set up by antiabortion groups to dissuade women from having abortions.” With no mention of the many services offered by hundreds of thousands of volunteers at thousands of CPCs across the country, she accuses them of “using deceptive tactics,” and goes on to equate all CPCs with one which allegedly pushed women into releasing children for adoption without the proper counseling or care, never asking whether all or even more than a few CPCs participate in such behavior, or whether abortion offers any kind of meaningful alternative to the terrible emotional trauma into which she claims these women were forced.

Similarly, the Feminist Women’s Health Center warns visitors to their website to “Beware of Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” They go on to warn, “They attempt to make women feel guilty… Their offices are filled with information that is one-sided, biased, and misleading.” As opposed, apparently, to the impartial facts you receive at an abortion clinic, where they show you a sonogram for free, and let you hear your baby’s heartbeat? Where they have no monetary interest in your decision? Right?

Wrong.

My good friend Destiny Herndon-DeLaRosa, founder and president of New Wave Feminists for Life, had one of many brilliant ideas recently: a public protest where women stand outside the CPC with signs bearing simple red hearts, and other women stand next door, outside the abortion clinic, with giant green dollar signs.

It’s a common pro-life battle cry today: “We care about the women, too.” It is CPC employees and volunteers who are on the ground doing the work to back up this statement, day and night, for little or no pay. While there is much to be said for political advocacy, someone has to take the phone call from a woman in desperate need, hold her hand, tell her the truth, and often, sadly, watch her leave and never know her fate, or that of the innocent child inside her.

To find a CPC near you and donate or volunteer, visit CPCLink.com.

Kristen Walker is Vice President of New Wave Feminists for Life, a Dallas-based organization intent on returning virtue and morality to women’s empowerment.

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