Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Upcoming Movie Challenges Pro-Abortion Narrative on Pregnancy Centers

[Today's guest post by Rebecca Downs is part of our paid blogging program.]

One of my favorite parts of going to the movies is the trailers. I didn't know what I was in for when I saw a trailer for Gimme Shelter.

From the beginning, it looks intense. A nearly unrecognizable Vanessa Hudgens narrates how she had to leave her drug-addicted mother, and we see that she isn't very welcome at her father's home, where he has his own family. Then, we find out that she is pregnant. Hudgens' character of Apple leaves her father's house, because she actually wants to keep her baby. Apple then almost kills herself in a car accident, but after a hospital chaplain shows her love and attention, she finds comfort and a home in what became one of the first pregnancy centers for young mothers.

The beginning of the trailer just seemed so sad and destructive. I didn't know if I would be able to bring myself to see it. But when midway through the trailer we see the hope through someone caring about Apple, and her being able to find her way, I could see real inspiration in this true story.

There have been pro-life movies before; October Baby, for instance. And I'm certainly not knocking that movie. I feel like with Gimme Shelter, though, this is a particular instance where a pro-life film can reach a large audience with its marketing and a wider release this month, on January 24. Naturally, pro-life news sources are already running stories about Gimme Shelter. But so are mainstream and local media outlets, including Express in the United Kingdom and in Colorado. That news coverage will only grow when the film is released.

The sources mentioned above, including the ones that are not necessarily pro-life, feature a bit of an explanation into the pregnancy center from the film, which came to be Several Sources Shelters.

Pregnancy centers such as Several Sources Shelters do some really great work. And while facilities that provide abortion, like Planned Parenthood, "help" women by getting rid of the child in a crisis pregnancy rather than the crisis, pregnancy centers are the ones to really help women with many of them providing housing, parenting classes, supplies, assistance with employment, and other opportunities. Yet guess which of these the federal government found worthy of receiving $540 million a year, or $1.5 million a day? Meanwhile Planned Parenthood's non-abortion services, like breast examinations, are on the decline. Abortion is their cash cow. 

It is not enough that Planned Parenthood receives tax dollars from you and me, though. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates have tried valiantly to smear the good work that pregnancy centers do. They regard pregnancy centers as deceptive, and claim that pregnancy centers routinely lie to or mislead women, just because they don't provide abortions and because they seek to educate women on the harms of abortion.

It is not just Planned Parenthood which has targeted the centers. NARAL Pro-Choice America has an ongoing campaign urging action against them. There is also an organization called the Crisis Project which is devoted solely to opposing pregnancy centers. The National Abortion Federation is   opposes pregnancy centers. There's an HBO documentary, 12th & Delaware, targeting these centers. And that's just stratching the surface; most every abortion advocacy group is opposed to our efforts to care for women who choose life.

There have even been lawsuits involving pregnancy centers in the cities of San Francisco, New York City, Baltimore and Austin, as abortion advocates in local government attempt to impose unconstitutional restrictions on the centers' right to freedom of speech.

For organizations like these, it is not enough to promote and provide abortion; they must also stomp out the pregnancy centers that give women other options. That's hardly pro-choice; that's pro-abortion.

Hopefully this new film, which tells an inspirational true story, will shed some light on what the pro-life pregnancy center movement is really about, and open hearts and minds.


Vita said...

Thanks for your review that is very helpful and that trailer looks like very interesting.

As to your second point it is criminal how crisis pregnancy centers are targeted for offering a different choice than the one pro-abortion individuals want the pregnancy patients to choose.

RandomGuest said...

Well, crisis-pregnancy-centers would have a better reputation among pro-choicers if they stopped disguising their true motives (not offering abortions), lying to women (e.g. "having an abortion will make you infertil") and pushing them towards adoption, because they're a little too close with the adoption industry.

Are all centers like that? Of course not, but unfortunatly too many. And as long as you pro-lifers ignore those black sheep they'll spoil the reputation of all cps and shelters.

As you might have guessed I'm pro-choice. I've got nothing against cps (on the contrary), as long as they are straight forward about their views, aims and offerings and as long as they don't lie to women. If these criteria are fullfilled cps can be a valuable resource for women in need.

Rebecca Rose Downs said...

I have noticed you're pro-choice, but I am glad you seem open-minded enough to claim to have "nothing against cps (on the contrary)..."

A CPC's true motive is to help motive. They do not offer abortions because it is not an abortion that helps women. And I don't really understand your point about being "a little too close with the adoption industry." Couldn't you say, that with how few adoption referrals Planned Parenthood does, especially compared to their abortions, that they're a little too far away from adoption, or too close to abortion? And research has shown that abortion can make you infertile and/or cause other health risks.

RandomGuest said...

Thanks for your response, Rebecca. A few remarks:

"They do not offer abortions because it is not an abortion that helps women."
No, they don't offer abortions because they find them morally wrong. Even if abortions were proven to be beneficial to a woman's health, cpcs still wouldn't offer them.

"Couldn't you say, that with how few adoption referrals Planned
Parenthood does, especially compared to their abortions, that they're a
little too far away from adoption, or too close to abortion?"
I think the problem in the US is, that abortion and adoption are both big business. If you're running an abortion clninic you're interested in women choosing to terminate their pregnancies, if you're owning an adoption agency you want women to give up their newborns for adoption (a lot of "failed" adoptions aka biological mothers changing their minds will put off your customers, the adoption seekers). So it is only logical that you have to expect biased counselling from both sides, since they both have their one interests on mind. As for the case of Planned Parenthood: I think they have become synonymous for abortion. So many women who consider adoption won't drive miles to reach a PP-office if they have an adoption agency nearby (which I think is a mistake because of their agenda as I have explained above).

"And research has shown that abortion can make you infertile and/or cause other health risks."
Yes, there is the risk of secondary infertility, but it seems to be so small it's nearly non-existant ( All in all first trimester abortion are associated with less health risks for women than carrying to term and giving birth is.

Last but not least I want to again point out the potential I see for cpcs to help advice seeking pregnant women (and their partners/ relatives) if they:

- tell right away that they don't offer or refer for abortions
- honestly explain why they think that abortion is wrong (human rights of the fetus instead of false facts regarding health risks for the woman)
- help pregnant women getting (financial) help/ filing for gvtl. assistance
- stop pushing them towards adoption
- help women finding an ethical adoption agency (if that's what they want), honestly explain the legal groundwork of adoption and accompany them through the adoption process (even if that means a last minute change of the heart)
- stop giving out false information about contraception (the reality is a bit more comlex than "bc doesn't work, so next time keep your legs closed!")
- stop trying to push their religious views on the help seeking

Rebecca Rose Downs said...

No worries! I enjoy having respectful back and forths actually!

It is true that CPCs do not offer abortions because they find abortion to be morally wrong, but that does not mean that this has to be separate from the reason I gave. Hopefully my phrasing make sense? For instance, CPCs and pro-lifers find abortion to be morally wrong because they find it to harm the mother, and even if this were not the case, or not the case for all women at least, it is the case that every successful abortion does harm an innocent and defenseless unborn child.

I appreciate that, even if we don't necessarily agree on abortion, that you recognize it is a business. And while I am trying to see your point, I'm not sure if I can see or understand adoption being as much of a business. True, adoption is a sort of business transaction, but I still see the practices of adoption and abortion as being different. And again, kudos to you for realizing that both sides are bias. Unfortunately though, many who are pro-choice do not admit that Planned Parenthood is biased.

Even if the risk of infertility "seems to be so small it's nearly non-existant," to dismiss it seems to be unfair to those women who have suffered this risk because of their abortion. And unfortunately, the study that abortion is safer than childbirth has been deemed false. Interestingly enough, when presenting the case in favor of legalized abortion with the Roe v. Wade case, the study that it was safer than childbirth was just sort of thrown in there. It's mentioned in the new book, Abuse of Discretion.

And I think it is great you have taken the time to think these issues out when it comes to CPCs. I think you would admit that Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics aren't perfect either. To respond to these concerns:

-I don't think that a CPC should hide from a woman who directly asks that they do not provide for abortions, but otherwise they can and should be able to operate
-I absolutely think that of course CPCs, and anyone for that matter, should honestly explain their position. Pro-lifers do believe in human rights for the fetus, but we do use references to support how abortion can harm a woman
-CPCs have been great helping women I believe
-If a woman does not want to have her child, then a CPC is not going to counsel her for an abortion, and is thus going to offer adoption as the alternative. To flip this, Planned Parenthood pushes towards abortion oftentimes, and yet does not consider such counseling to be biased
-I think it would be a necessary form of help to guide women through the adoption process
-And of course the reality is more complex, not only a bit, but a lot more, than such nasty comments. The person saying such mean things may feel this way, but it also certainly won't help the woman. While effectively when used properly, birth control can and does fail. The Guttmacher Institute reported that 54% of women who had abortions had already been on birth control when they became pregnant. Birth control is another complexity, with some health risks involved to it as well
-And your last point is an excellent one! Many CPCs are run by Christians, and faith is important to people. They may thus wish to share their faith, but I do think need to find a healthy bridge between helping pregnant women and trying to evangelize. Actually Sarah Terzo, who writes for SPL Perspectives and Live Action News had a great piece, "On Being a Pro-Life Atheist."

Thank you again for making for intelligent and respectful dialogue! I got to thinking as I responded to your points, and I hope that you did as well! Even if we don't end up agreeing, it's important to know why we hold the positions that we do.

RandomGuest said...

Rebecca, I do believe you when you say that for you one argument against abortion is that some women feel hurt after having had one. But personally opposing something for this reason and wanting to make it illegal are two very different pairs of shoes. Even if a majority of women regretted having an abortion, I still think it should be legal. If a patient is made aware of all possible risks and their probability of occurring, it's his/her final decision to have the procedure or not.

Concerning the health risks related to abortion: there' s no major medical association which supports your claim that an early abortion is riskier than childbirth. Do you really believe that removing a few inch-long embryo by vacuum aspiration would be riskier than carrying a pregnancy to term (nine month of huge physical changes) and giving birth to an 20 inch, 8 lb newborn either vaginally or via major surgery (c-section)?

And no, I'm not dismissing a person's suffering but I do think that one should put it in the correct proportion. A large sample size naturally causes quite a lot tragic cases, even if the relative risk is very, very small.

Now those two points where we might be on the same page: contraception and adoption.

Concerning contraception: I actually don't know what makes me angrier, - people who claim that birth control doesn't work at all or those who state that it's super duper safe. BC pills used as the average US-American woman does have a failure rate of 8% per year. So your risk to have an unwanted pregnancy during the next ten years is as high as 80%. I call that far from safe! If, on the other hand you take your pills diligently and use a condom every time too, the risk drops below 0.2% in ten years! There are also long acting methods like the implant or iuds which should be recommended a lot more often.

About adoption: Most women who give their children up for adoption don't do so because they don't want them but because they don't see another way. CPCs would be invaluable if they promised a woman who wants to parent that they will do everything in their power to make this happen instead of suggesting adoption once they learn of difficult circumstances surrounding a pregnancy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against adoption per se but I think that domestic home adoption in the US is full of unethical aspects. Please inform yourself of the coercive tactics so many adoption agencies use (google adoption coercion). Or do you think it's correct that:

- adoption agencies constantly stress how hard it is to parent while painting adoption as "the loving option"?

- women are regularly "matched" with prospective adoptive parents during pregnancy who will pay thousands of $US for her health care/ housing which eventually makes the mother feel obliged to hand over her child?

- that agencies will make a woman sign the adoption papers right after delivery while she's still high from pain relief drugs?

- that in many states you have more time to change your mind about a toaster you bought than you have time to revoke an adoption?

- that birth certificates are altered by the state, forever preventing a person from finding his/her biological parents?

- that mothers are promised as much contact with their child as they want when, in fact, open adoptions are not enforceable?

In general, how can it be ethical that couples spend $ 30,000 to adopt a child while this sum would enable a mother to keep and raise her child?