I started volunteering at my local secular crisis pregnancy center in the greater Seattle area, for 6 hours a week, in early September. It's been several months and I already feel like I have learned a lot, not only about how to fold baby clothes into bundles or how to take clients in, but also about humanity and charity, and how misogynistic, classist, and racist the pro-choice attack on these centers is.
To start off with, we provide all services for free. They are for low-income pregnant and parenting women. We have free baby clothes, toddler clothes, shoes, maternity clothes, pregnancy tests, breast pumps, nursing bras, diapers, baby wipes, bottles, baby/toddler dishes, formula, food, toys, books, car seats, strollers, cribs, cradles, jumpers, and any other pieces of furniture or big toys when we get them. I have seen pretty much anything you can think of that deals with pregnancy or parenting, come into the clinic. We also give referrals to various social services, such as WIC.
Almost everything is donated, other than car seats which are always new. Most people who work there are volunteers. To watch so many people donate their items, money, and time to this place, so that these low-income single parents and families can have the help they need, is truly wonderful. We had a dinner auction fundraiser, which is the only fundraiser event of the year, and it brought in $71,000 total. I almost wanted to cry with joy. I always wished I was rich enough to be able to afford to donate more money, but I have always been in the same boat as these women we service. If I were to get pregnant, I would probably have to go there to pick up supplies myself, because I have never had much money. So I do what I can with volunteering instead.
All we ask from the people coming in is ID, not finances or anything else (other than license, registration, and insurance for the car-seats). We don't make them pay a single cent, unlike places like Planned Parenthood. So we truly offer purely free items for struggling families. Taking clinics like this away from all the people we have serviced, or trying to make it harder for us to provide these free items, is a gross attack on lower class people, especially since places like Planned Parenthood don't bother to give *any* of these baby/toddler/maternity items to needy women. In fact you won't find baby clothes or diapers or strollers or anything like that at any abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood doesn't help you plan your parenthood at all, it just tries to eliminate it for you.
It takes a ton of privilege to be able to tell people that because you want every clinic that helps women to provide abortions, poor women aren't allowed to have free baby supplies. I have already seen so many people come in and get free supplies, and it saddens me to think of these people not having these free supplies anymore due to angry pro-choicers trying to control where we can get services and what types of services we can get. This is what misogyny and classist oppression looks like.
Our clinic is non-sectarian, so we welcome people of all faith and political backgrounds to volunteer. They know I am an Atheist and welcome me with open arms, even though we don't have the same beliefs on religion. They are truly loving and caring to all the clients, no matter their background. There are people who have dealt with CPS, people who have addiction issues, people who are divorced and people who are single in addition to those who are married; all are welcome with open arms and not judged. Everyone gets their free baby supplies and a friendly smile.
There is a lot of racial diversity in our clients as well. I have seen various people from all across the race and religion spectrum. People who are Pacific Islander, Arabic, Hispanic, Muslim, Ukrainian, Egyptian, African American, and so on and so forth. To take away free supplies from all these various minorities is racist and an injustice. They need help being able to afford these supplies and abortion clinics certainly aren't going to help them. Higher rates of infant mortality due to systematic racism mean that every affordable baby supply is truly needed for a person of color. It is a privileged position to take that away.
Every year that goes by truly shows me that pro-choicers are the ones oppressing pregnant women, even if they pretend to be pro-woman. If they want to take down these clinics, they are going to have a ton of needy people on their hands who don't have the ability to properly clothe, feed, and diaper their children....which makes them feel the pressure to abort, which is possibly the real reason as to why they fight these clinics, because they lose out on abortion dollars when people feel like they don't need abortion because they can get free baby supplies. This is one of the things we mean when we say that abortion is a tool of the patriarchy. So all we can do is fight this oppression until we win.
[Today's guest post by Kristin Monahan is part of our paid blogging program.]