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12th and Delaware

Melinda Henneberger's new column is on the documentary about abortion activists, 12th and Delaware. She argues that it is "unbalanced"--the prolife group seems constricted and mean in their outlook, and doesn't resemble people that she knows who are prolife, including herself.In a post below, Nancy Dallavalle asks whether we could open a thread on the column and movie: She writes:Maybe one of your bloggers could start a thread on the excellent Melinda Hennebergers review of 12th and Delaware. She says the documentary compares two womens clinics one that does abortions and a Catholic crisis pregnancy clinic (CPC) and chafes at the creepy and judgmental picture of the CPC volunteers. She finds the film Unbalanced because the CPC folks seem like the lunatic fringe of the pro-lifers with whom she (and I) would identify.But heres my question: the film apparently compares the sensibilities of those who volunteer at two clinics. Is it possible that the film is perfectly balanced with regard to its task comparing the kind of people who volunteer at these kind of clinics? And does that tell us something?I myself teach Alexander Paine's film Citizen Ruth about the abortion political debate--which makes everyone look, well, equally bad. (It functions as a shocking contrast to the beauty of Evangelium Vitae, which I read just before showing the film).I haven't seen this yet.In any case, Nancy, here's your thread.

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I know that everyone will read Melinda's column before registering an opinion on it. (The movie won't be available for viewing till this summer, I believe.) But just to clarify her take:

What the film has been praised for above all is its preternatural evenhandedness; in fact, Rachel says some of her strongly prochoice friends and colleagues feel she was excessive in her neutrality, presenting prolifers far too sympathetically....But evenhanded its not, and my issue is not with the movie itself, but with the assumption that this is what a straight-down-the-middle, balanced view of the two sides of the abortion debate looks like. That assumption is a reminder that, though the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as prolife is growing, we still have a long way to go with the media.

In other words, she doesn't fault the filmmakers (I think she acknowledges the possibility of the limited sort of "balance" Nancy mentions). She objects to the way the film is being received as an accurate portrayal of the abortion divide in general.

Thanks, Mollie. I hadn't focused on the fact that the movie isn't out there anyway. And you're quite right about Melinda's column.What I think is interesting about Nancy's point myself is the broader question it raises about the relationship of "activists" to "identifiers" in social protest movements in the pro-life movement and in other movements.On the one hand, there's the abortion debate and "identifiers"-- people who takes sides--who are willing to identify as one side or the other. On the other hand, are "activists"--those who protest, those who march, and maybe those who volunteer at centers. To what degree in this movement--and IN ANY MOVEMENT--do activists ever really represent the identifers? For example, one might have self-identified as opposed to the Vietnam War--but not really seen oneself reflected in the mindset of the activists who opposed it.I'm not sure whether the gap between prolife identifiers and prolife activists isn't an anomaly, but correlates with the gap between identifiers and activists more generally..

Mollie-In perhaps trying to protect her, I don't think you're giving Ms. Henneberger enough credit. Her important disclosure of the friendship she has with one of the co-director's parents is needed, I think, to understand some of the subtleties she works into her review. For example, it's clear that the reviewer believes that a film that is being promoted as a documentary is unbalanced in the extreme. The reader has no trouble inferring that a reviewer describing a "documentary" as terribly unbalanced is just a nice way of saying it's a propaganda piece. Lest anyone still not get it, there's this:"The filmmakers told Turan theyd wanted to rescue the pregnant girls from the clutches of the creepy CPC [crisis pregnancy centers] predators"For those of you in Rio Linda, what the reviewer is telling you here is that this so-called documentary was never even intended to provide a balanced view--the filmmakers just wanted you to think it was balanced by using the guise of a documentary.A less skilled reviewer would simply say that the ill-conceived hatchet job that is this film was doomed to miscarry from the start.PS I hope I have not jeopardized Ms. Henneberger's friendship! If so, please delete this comment.

Melissa Henneberger wrote:"my issue is not with the movie itself, but with the assumption that this is what a straight-down-the-middle, balanced view of the two sides of the abortion debate looks like."... and Mollie commented: "In other words, she doesnt fault the filmmakers ... She objects to the way the film is being received as an accurate portrayal of the abortion divide in general."So it seems that it is critics who are making the assumption that this is a "straight-down-the-middle" portrait? What is their basis for that assumption? Are they just operating from ignorance of what a more "normal" CPC would be like? Does the film itself make any claim that what is presented is typical? Or does the marketing campaign around the film suggest that?Istm that a filmmaking team that "found the CPCs, in Ewings words, upsetting, shocking, disturbing, confusing, " (how odd it is that they would react this way to the very notion of a crisis pregnancy center!) is not starting from a point of objective reporting. Presumably they selected their subjects knowing it would engender the critical response that it has so far.Of course, if/when we can see the film, it may all become more clear.

It seems to me Melinda Henneberger is unhappy that Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady did not make a different documentary. How many choices did they have where an abortion clinic was across the street from a crisis pregnancy center and they could film a documentary about the two interacting with each other? I think the reasonable question is whether the documentary gives an honest account at what goes on in (and between) the clinic and the CPC. One of the problems in the pro-life movement, in my opinion, is that "pro-lifers" are reluctant to criticize the "lunatic fringe," which is often the most visible element of the pro-life movement.

Well, seems like if anyone really wants an honest opinion of if the movie was fair and unbalanced (as the directors desperately want you to believe) that you might ask some of the folks who were actually in it.I'm the director of Pregnancy Care Center. I can say a lot, but will limit myself here to just a few comments.1. Loki Films did not cover all of the bases when filming. (ie;left out follow up care with clients)2. Loki Films did not tell us that they were filming the abortion clinic - although the abortion clinic knew we were being filmed.3. Loki Films staged scenes. (ie; I never stand at the window and look out at the street but you will see me doing this in the film.)4. Loki Films insisted they were "neutral" on the issue and later in post-film interviews identify themselves as PRO-CHOICE.There is a lot more behind the scenes .... stay tuned. Here's our statement on the movie:http://www.hli.org/index.php/news/press-releases/798-press-release-state...

Anne, what is your response to the first two paragraphs of Melinda's column, which many people would have the same reaction to as she did. Are the people who shake plastic fetuses at the people going into the abortion clinic associated with you all--or are they part of a different pro-life group? In other words, are the crisis pregnancy people and the abortion clinic protesters actually the same people?

My apologies, Melinda, for referring to you as Melissa :-(

Hi Cathleen,I do know the people outside, of course, but the implication in the film is that we put them there. Not so. Some of them I have known for many years, and trust implicitly. They are not part of any group - some of them are friends but others are independent and operate on their own accord out there.Of course, the most stable and consistent ones are not featured in the film. Heidi and Rachel centered in on basically two people (one woman, and one man). The man was there for about 2 or 3 months, and I have not seen him since. I think he got caught up in the filming and they were very careful to feed him ideas, as they did me. (ie "Anne, can't you organize a picket at one of the homes of the doctors?" "Anne, can't you lie and tell that girl (a potential client who was emailing me) that you do abortions just so she will come in?)They do not shake plastic fetuses at them, ever. They have signs, they offer literature, and they pray. Some of them engage the workers in conversation, remember though, the workers have known them for years so that would be very natural.

I had assumed that the Pregnancy Care Center was across the street from an abortion clinic by coincidence, but apparently it was put there deliberately:

His [Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer] pro-life activity began in the early years of his priesthood with prayer vigils, pilgrimages, pickets at abortion mills, sidewalk counseling and the establishment of a crisis pregnancy center across the street from an abortion mill in 1999.

I'm not familiar with the documentary, but I have never seen confrontational or other disruptive behavior by pro-lifers praying in front of our abortion clinic in Louisville. They carry small placards, perhaps recite the rosary. They bear silent witness. When I've driven by the location, these pro-lifers seem like respectful folks.

Thanks, Anne. That really raises even more questions about the film.

Anne, cant you lie and tell that girl (a potential client who was emailing me) that you do abortions just so she will come in?) Anne Lotierzo:You are saying the filmmakers suggested that you lie to clients or potential clients?

If only there were a pregnancy crisis/care center across the street from every abortion clinic!

If only there were a pregnancy crisis/care center across the street from every abortion clinic!William,Is locating a crisis pregnancy center across the street from an abortion clinic to help people? Or is it to try and interfere with the legitimate business of the abortion clinic? I am sure you wish there were no abortion clinics in the United States, but they are legitimate and legal. Aside from demonstrations, there has also been at least one legal battle between the clinic and the crisis pregnancy center. Exactly what the outcome was I am still trying to find out, but it doesn't sound like pairing these kinds of operations is a good idea to me.

>> it doesnt sound like pairing these kinds of operations is a good idea to me.David: why not?

It seems to me Melinda Henneberger is unhappy that Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady did not make a different documentary. No, that's what I was trying to clarify. She says very plainly in her column that this is NOT what she's unhappy about. She knows the filmmakers didn't intend to make a neutral film (I don't think they "desperately want you to believe" anything of the kind, either, based on what they've said to the press), and she does not dispute the fairness of its depiction of what happens at either clinic. On the contrary, she says, "their movie is a reporting triumph, and an effective presentation of their prochoice position." Again, what she's unhappy about is the fact that this prochoice-sympathetic documentary is being described by the critics who've seen it as a neutral look at both sides of the abortion debate today. Not just both sides of this particular street, but both sides of the whole ideological divide (as in the reviews she quotes in the column). So the question for her, I think, is: are the critics/the "media" really so unfamiliar with average prolife people that they think the CPC workers in the film are representative?Cathy (and Nancy) raise a different but related set of questions, also very worth discussing, I think.

David: why not?Jim (and William, too),Although Anne Lotierzohas complaints that her crisis pregnancy center was unfairly portrayed, you'll note that Melinda Henneberger does not think so at all:

Which they [the documentary filmmakers] do, of courseif what you mean by representing both sides is conscientiously capturing the loony fringe of one point of view and the most reasonable face of the other. Not that I believe the filmmakers faked anything; on the contrary, their movie is a reporting triumph, and an effective presentation of their prochoice position. . . . Im no fan of abortion on demand. But these people represent me the way eco-terrorists represent environmentalists. That they are seen as in any way representative of the prolifer down the block is at least as telling as Rachel and Heidis chronicle of one weird prolife subculture.

So far, I find Henneberger's description of the film persuasive, and the complaints of Anne Lotierzo don't really address Henneberger's discomfort with the goings-on in and around the crisis pregnancy center. Take this, for example:

The filmmakers told Turan theyd wanted to rescue the pregnant girls from the clutches of the creepy CPC predators. And I felt much the same way, watching Randall Terrystyle extremists use scare tactics disguised as medical advice and life counseling. The clinic manager tells one girl that her abusive boyfriend might lighten up if she has his baby, and attempts to out-and-out bribe others with promises of food, money, clothes, and anything you want. (I guess she thought that if she bought me some McDonalds, that would change my mind, one client remarks.)

And of course, these people knew they were being filmed.If you think that a crisis pregnancy center like this across the street from every abortion clinic is really a good idea, you are in disagreement with Henneberger, who clearly thinks that the crisis pregnancy center in the film is the kind of thing that gives the pro-life movement a bad name. By the way, take a look at this website. Don't you find it a bit misleading? I can't believe they actually give abortion referrals for women who decide the option they want is an abortion, but you certainly can't tell that from the website.

Molly,I have read the article several times now, and I don't disagree with you. My initial reaction was that Henneberger wished that a truly balanced film had been made, but whether she did or not, that's not really in the text of the article. She is not complaining that the film is not objective and balanced, she's complaining that it is perceived to be that way by the media, because the media think of "pro-lifers" in general as being like the ones in the film. But Henneberger considers the ones in the film to be "the loony fringe" and not representative of herself or the pro-life people she knows.Thanks for pointing this out.

I think Nancy Dallavalle asks a good question. I wonder myself what the average "crisis pregnancy center" is like. Are the counsellors psychologists, social workers, or others trained in counseling? What is the quality of the counseling a woman can expect to get if she walks into a crisis pregnancy center? I hope it doesn't resemble what Henneberger describes in her article. There have been accusations from the pro-choice side that crisis pregnancy centers engage in false advertising by not making it clear in their advertising that they do not provide abortion services or referrals, and if you think one of your options is to have an abortion, they are going to do their best to talk you out of it. I think the website of the crisis pregnancy center that was the subject of the documentary is misleading. I noticed it included as one of the risks of abortion "a possible increase in risk of breast cancer." The American Cancer Society does not agree.

Sorry, David, I still don't see any problem with locating a pregnancy crisis center near an abortion clinic. There's nothing unlawful about the arrangement. There are restrictions on how close non-clients or protesters can come to an abortion clinic, and as long as the letter of the law is being followed, then fine. Melinda Henneberger criticized specific conduct by CPC employees, not the physical location of the pregnancy crisis center. I think it's counterproductive for crisis center employees to behave as depicted in the film, but I have no problem with such employees politely and peacefully offering alternatives if the opportunity arises, or, in the case of a Catholic crisis center, saying the Rosary peacefully in front of the center's building. If the peaceful presence of a pregnancy crisis center and the alternatives it can offer are successful in dissuading some women from going through with abortions, then we should all rejoice in lives saved.

"I wonder myself what the average 'crisis pregnancy center' is like. Are the counsellors psychologists, social workers, or others trained in counseling? What is the quality of the counseling a woman can expect to get if she walks into a crisis pregnancy center?"My guess is that there's a fair amount of variation. At a nearby crisis pregnancy center, the first thing a client gets is a pregnancy test, the kind you buy at the drug store. Volunteers try to ascertain the age of the fetus by asking questions, and then show the mother pictures of what the fetus looks like and the extent to which its nervous system is developed. I have never seen a volunteer with a client, so I don't know how that conversation goes.The center--it doesn't call itself a clinic--offers referrals to pro-life obstetricians. If women are without insurance, they lay out options that might include some type of public assistance or working through an adoption agency where prospective parents might agree to pay obstetrical costs. But I believe it's up to the mothers to follow through there.The clinic has maternity clothes and baby items for the needy.Volunteers are not professional psychologists, nurses, or social workers (which is probably why they don't call themselves a clinic, though there was some talk about trying to get an ultrasound machine and a tech to work it). I don't know what type of orientation volunteers get. They are required to sign a statement saying they will never encourage a woman to get an abortion or reveal where she can get one.I also don't know whether the center notifies parents of minors that they have provided information, counseling and referrals.The head of the center I spoke with was extremely nice and very open about how everything worked. I felt moved to donate items to the center, but didn't feel I was cut out to deal directly with clients, and no one pressed me for explanations. The center is not affiliated with Michigan Right to Life, which is the legislative, anti-abortion PAC. I would expect that some volunteers at the center may belong individually, but I don't know that for a fact.They are not located near an abortion clinic.

Sorry, David, I still dont see any problem with locating a pregnancy crisis center near an abortion clinic. William,Do you think it is a good thing that this particular crisis pregnancy center was set up near this particular abortion clinic? My point is that if this movie (as it is described by Henneberger) is a depiction of what happens when an abortion clinic and a crisis pregnancy center are in close proximity, then I certainly don't think it would be a good idea to have them paired in every case. The question in my mind is how typical is the behavior of the people associated with this particular crisis pregnancy center? Do you think it is acceptable for a crisis pregnancy center to present itself as place where a woman can be counseled about all her options, and only once the women are inside to reveal that their purpose is to talk women out of having abortions? Is that how women who consider themselves to have a crisis pregnancy are to be treated?

I've seen some info online about crisis pregnancy centers - all negative. Mostly that's because they're perceived as dishonest, as portraying themselves as reproductive health clinics, and as giving false information. to clients/patients Saw this story in the news - Archdiocese sues city over pregnancy counseling notice ....The Archdiocese of Baltimore filed a federal lawsuit against the city Monday, saying a first-in-the-nation ordinance regulating pregnancy counseling centers violates the rights of church members to freedom of speech and religion. Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said the law, which took effect in January, "is hurting the good people volunteering and giving so much of their resources to come to the help of pregnant women." It requires the centers, some of which are supported by the Catholic Church, to post signs stating that they do not refer women for abortion or birth control.

Even if false or misleading advertising is protected by the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech (and I don't believe it is), It doesn't seem to me it is appropriate for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to sue for the right to lure unsuspecting women dealing with crisis pregnancies into an anti-abortion operation under the false promise to inform them of all their options. I was watching a video of the Weakland deposition given in 2008 regarding the handling of sex abuse cases, and he acknowledged that when a priest who was guilty of sex abuse was assigned to a new parish, no one was informed of the priest's history of abuse. Weakland said quite candidly that if people were informed of the priest's history, they wouldn't have accepted the priests, and there could have been no reassignments.

"The question in my mind is how typical is the behavior of the people associated with this particular crisis pregnancy center?"David, you're asking good questions, and I'm glad you're curious. If you have any free time, why not set up an appointment at one in your area to learn more? That might make watching the film a more interesting experience, too (if you decide to see it).

"Are the counsellors psychologists, social workers, or others trained in counseling? "I'm sure the academic and profesional qualifications of the volunteers and staff at crisis pregnancy centers varies from one to another. In general, though, they're not their to offer psycological or social work services. (Presumably the doctors at the abortion clinic have fine academic qualifications and meet their continuing-education requirements. But they're still involved in a horrible business. One doesn't need a graduate degree to see that.)

Jim,I looked for a crisis pregnancy center in Google and there are many. I picked one pretty much at random. It is the Midtown Pregnancy Support Center, and from what I can see from their website, they are a fine organization to which I have absolutely no object. In fact, I might even support them with a donation. Here is the first item in their FAQs:

1. Will the Midtown Pregnancy Support Center refer for abortion?No. As Christians, we recognize and affirm the biblical teaching that the unborn child is a living human being. However, we recognize that abortion is a legal option. We, therefore, are ready to provide the information necessary to understand all options available to women. We avoid the use of scare tactics and emotional appeals.

For women who are the least bit ambivalent about abortion, or who are actively looking for an abortion alternative, it is entirely commendable for people to help them. I do not believe it is at all commendable to set up an establishment that engages in false advertising so women with unwanted pregnancies go in expecting to have someone help them explore all their options and then discover they are talking to anti-abortion activists.

In general, though, theyre not their to offer psycological or social work services.Jim,Then what are they there for? Henneberger says, "The clinic manager tells one girl that her abusive boyfriend might lighten up if she has his baby, and attempts to out-and-out bribe others with promises of food, money, clothes, and 'anything you want.'" Women who go to crisis pregnancy centers may very well be -- as the name implies -- going through a crisis. A pregnant woman in an abusive relationship doesn't need amateur advice.

Jean, thank you for the "backgrounder" on the crisis pregnancy center in your area.I see no problem per se with having such a center --- staffed by nonprofessionals and/or otherwise --- near an abortion clinic. As Mr. Pauwels has pointed out, a board-certified OB performing abortions is still performing a gruesome act.If crisis center staff and/or sympathetic others are intruding on the operations of an abortion clinic, I think such action hurts, not helps, the work of a crisis center. Peaceful, quiet witness to life. A pro-life alternative down or across the street. This is the way to go.

"Then what are they there for? "Well ... the one I know most about in our area sounds very like the one that Jean described. It's a lot of well-intentioned (and very nice) people who want to support pregnant women and teens through their pregnancy. Advice, emotional support, material support (e.g. baby clothes). The folks I know who help out at the one I'm familiar with are motivated by notions of Christian community: when you're pregnant, it shouldn't just be your concern, it's the whole community's concern, and they're trying to rally around and help you.It wouldn't surpies me if there are centers that do have pschological counseling. But I don't think that sort of thing is really the core of what the pregnancy centers are all about.

Jim,That sounds nice, but we are talking about "crisis pregnancy centers." One would hope there is support for all pregnant women. But women who are in crisis over a pregnancy may need more than friendly advice. I can imagine there are many fine organizations out there, but it sounds like there are no requirements or certifications or standards for these places.

David, if there are medical or psychological issues and the pregnancy centers aren't equipped to treat them, they refer the client to a place that will (and that aligns with their values).These aren't government funded medical clinics. They're not health care providers of any sort. Their mission isn't to provide treatment for high-risk pregnancies or expectant moms with severe mental illnesses.They're grass roots organizations to provide pregnant women with information, love and support.

Jim,It's fine with me as long as they (a) basically know what they are doing and (b) are straightforward about what they are. I do not think the website for the Pregnancy Care Center, the subject of the documentary, is straightforward.Also, from the story Crystal Watson linked to above . . .

The Archdiocese of Baltimore filed a federal lawsuit against the city Monday, saying a first-in-the-nation ordinance regulating pregnancy counseling centers violates the rights of church members to freedom of speech and religion.Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said the law, which took effect in January, "is hurting the good people volunteering and giving so much of their resources to come to the help of pregnant women." It requires the centers, some of which are supported by the Catholic Church, to post signs stating that they do not refer women for abortion or birth control.

What can possibly be the reason for objecting to posting a notice saying you do not refer women for abortion or birth control other than a desire to keep secret the true nature of the services you are offering?

A fair question, Mr. Nickol, to any crisis pregnancy center that does not post such a notice.

Here's the South Bend one--the Women's Care Center. http://www.womenscarecenter.org/FAQAbortion.htmlI would not, I think, be able to tell that they were pro=life--indeed, they look like they are trying hard to be neutral.I'm not sure what they mean by "Since many pregnancies end in miscarriage, we strongly recommend that you have an ultrasound to determine whether your pregnancy is viable." Can an ultrasound tell that? Who interprets the ultrasound--a physician?

David, if there are medical or psychological issues and the pregnancy centers arent equipped to treat them, they refer the client to a place that will (and that aligns with their values).These arent government funded medical clinics. Theyre not health care providers of any sort. Their mission isnt to provide treatment for high-risk pregnancies or expectant moms with severe mental illnesses.Theyre grass roots organizations to provide pregnant women with information, love and support.Precisely! I would also add the following:1. We do not charge for our services. The abortion clinic charges for all of their services - including the pregnancy test. The same ultrasound we offer for free is available at the abortion clinic for $100.00. A registered nurse performs our ultrasounds and they are read and verified by a radiologist for accuracy. In over 2,000 scans, no errors have been detected.2. Over 60% of our clients come in because a friend or relative recommended us. If we were deceitful, would so many women be sending their friends and family members to us?3. I did indeed offer lunch (and she accepted) to a client. Why? Because it was lunch time, and she mentioned how hungry she was! If I sat there and ignored her complaints about being hungry, I would be criticized for not tending to her needs. She had consented to being filmed - the directors wanted her to stay and be filmed. So, I offered her lunch. I don't see this as really a big deal. They did follow her out to the parking lot though, and led her to state, "Oh yeah maybe she was trying to bribe me into having the baby." Think about it though, what did they ask her to get her to make that statement? You don't hear (ever in the film) the questions being asked to get clients or staff to make statements. Remember this when you watch it.4. You will watch the film and believe that the abortion clinic staff are trained medical professionals. Not so. The doctor is there for abortions ONLY, and then he leaves. He is gone well before the women are out of recovery. So, who is tending to their needs? Who is monitoring their blood pressure, pain, bleeding? Non-medical staff. Before we talk about having professional counselors on staff at a pregnancy center to talk to women about pregnancy, let's talk about having medical personnel in the abortion clinic to tend to the needs of women who have just had "surgery".Very interesting posts here, glad to see them. Anyone with specific questions about us or the movie can email me : AnneLotierzo@gmail.com, I'd be glad to answer that way.

Ms. Lotierzo, thank you for providing important details about your experience with this filming. It adds valuable perspective.

"When youre pregnant, it shouldnt just be your concern, its the whole communitys concern, and theyre trying to rally around and help you."I think this would be a fine opener to a mission statement for any pro-life pregnancy center. I do think pro-life centers should be clear and upfront about their pro-life mission. So I'd add to the mission statement above something like, "help you bring your baby to term."Here's an interesting exercise. Look at this list of some pro-life operations nationwide. http://www.covenantnews.com/pregnant/#miSome are clearly pro-life, either in the names they choose or in the info on the home page. For instance, the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Anchorage notes clearly on its home page that it does not do or refer clients for abortions.Some not so much. The Women's Resource Center in Montgomery, Ala., for example, offers no information that indicates it is a pro-life clinic. by its name or Web info.Here's another link to a nationwide directory of operations that offer abortions.http://www.gynpages.com/ACOL/listing_a_clinic/7.htmlAgain, you can't always tell whether abortions are offered from the names of the clinics. But in randomly clicking on sites that didn't make the purpose of the clinic clear, the fact that abortions were offered was made clear on each home page.I don't mean to make any insinuations against pro-life clinics, but those that don't make their pro-life mission clear, I think, play into the hands of pro-choicers who say their methods aren't on the up and up.Perhaps others have different views?

Hi Jean,Well, in regards to the signs or advertising issue, let me make a few comments.1. We do not do a lot of advertising, the little we do advertises "Free Pregnancy Tests" as the main focus. That is usually the big draw. It is in the "Abortion Alternatives" section of the yellow pages. Despite that, as I mentioned in an earlier post, 60% of our clients come in because of a referral. Another 26% because they saw our sign which offers a free pregnancy test. So the majority of the women coming in don't see any specific advertising we may do. 2. Do we (or most other centers like us) advertise that we do not do abortions? No. We also do not advertise that we do not do pap smears, we do not do std testing, we do not offer birth control, and so on. You can see the dilemma of trying to advertise all of the things you do not do - as opposed to the things you do.3. We are pretty clear about our mission: part of it reads, "dedicated to serving those who are in a crisis pregnancy". It does not read "helping you bring your baby to term" because that is not our mission. We see our primary goal as educating the woman on her options. Our belief is that she will see the options, recognize the support available, and make a life decision. But either way, she has had the education. I don't think it is possible to make an authentic decision about abortion if you don't even understand the procedure. So, our effort goes into that education.4. It may interest you to know that the abortion clinic itself (across the street from us) does NOT advertise abortions on the sign out front. The name itself "A Woman's World Medical Center" does not say it at all. Furthermore, for at least a year, the sign read "Free Pregnancy Tests" out front, and yet, they were charging for them. So... in terms of advertising truthfully, I think we are ahead of the game.Last, anyone who thinks for even a moment, that it is possible to deceive a woman into keeping a baby and avoiding abortion does not have a very high opinion of women. Women are not stupid.

Anne, thanks for your response. As someone who works journalism and communications, the questions I raised in my previous post were meant to be mostly academic, certainly not aimed at your center specifically: 1. Can you determine out a clear pro-life or pro-choice orientation for a pregnancy center/clinc from the name? Not always, though "crisis pregnancy center" is mostly associated with pro-life orientations, and "clinic" is more often associated with places that do abortions. 2. Do pro-life and pro-choice pregnancy centers/clinics make their orientations clear in Web info (wasn't looking at signage and advertising so much)? Sometimes. "Supporting" those in a crisis pregnancy strikes me as fairly ambiguous wording. Most abortion clinics say they offer "support" as well. Though I understand why you don't include "bring your baby to term" wording in your mission statement.On the other hand, I expect that within any locality, it's fairly well known which are which by word-of mouth. The fact that you get a lot of referrals supports that notion, maybe? 3. Would it be good to be clearer about a pro-life orientation from a PR point of view? Dunno. I expect you know better than me that pro-choicers make claims about the kind of tactics used by pro-choice centers. Are pro-life centers using the best communication strategies to counteract those claims?

Well, let's see here,1. I don't know if you can or you can't determine the orientation, I know we see clients who mistake the clinic for us, and vice versa. But I don't think that is really the issue for the woman, her issue is whether or not she is pregnant. We are there to offer her the opportunity to find out, and make a decision about her pregnancy. We do not make money off of her decision - the abortion clinic always does. There's a big difference there, profit versus service.2. Agreed. But again, I am not sure that is the real issue for the woman. She wants to know if she is pregnant, the rest comes later. Even if she is abortion-minded, she may still prefer to come to us because we offer everything free - and the clinic does not. This is the case for all centers I know, as well as all abortion clinics.3. Well, the word support can be taken in a variety of ways I suppose, but keep in mind too, that women need varying degrees of support during pregnancy. For some, it is financial and material. For others, it is a matter of 'mentoring' or simple friendship. So for us, the best word is support - it is general, and flexible in its meaning. As part of a mission statement, it fits.4. The pro-abortion industry will always have the media on their side, so they can basically use any tactic they want to attack and it will receive publicity. They also have money to spend - they are a profit making business, we are a service oriented ministry. However, we have the truth on our side.

Reading this thread, I guess I see four questions: 1. Do pro-life crisis pregnancy centers deliberately attempt to be ambiguous, in order to get a shot at talking a woman out an abortion? 2. Is that deliberate ambiguity morally justified, given there's a life at stake, or is it an immoral attempt at manipulation?3. If the point of the ultrasound is NOT to say whether a particular pregnancy is likely to end in miscarriage, but to convince a woman that she's in fact carrying a baby--should that be said upfront?4. Would it be fair to have have labels such as "Pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Center" and "Pro-Choice Crisis Pregnancy Center mandated?

1. Pregnancy Centers advertise their services, as I have posted earlier, if we had to advertise all of the services we do not provide, it would not be practical. What other business would be held to that standard? For example, one of the local mechanics does not advertise he won't work on transmission problems, I only found that out when I went in and discovered the problem. Do we have a standard requiring him to advertise all of the services he does and does not provide? How long would that list be? 2. When you are talking about pregnancy centers, (and again let us make the point that ALL SERVICES ARE FREE), you are talking about people who are willing to make any kind of sacrifice to extend help to a person in need. I assure you, that morals are high on our list, morals are what drive us into this ministry to begin with. And again, I raise the issue, anyone who thinks a woman can be manipulated into keeping a child has a very warped view of women. Women are not stupid. If you honestly believe that a woman can be "deceived" into continuing her pregnancy, you have a lot to learn about women.3. The point of the utlrasound is to do three things: confirm the pregnancy is within the uterus, confirm it is viable with a heartbeat, and confirm the gestational age. That is all explained up front to a client at least twice before an ultrasound, and then again in the release that is signed prior to the exam. It is an option,not a requirement. And again, it is free. A woman pays for this service at abortion clinics.4. Why would you mandate labels for pregnancy centers and abortion clinics? (At what point would you stop? Please, our country has not gone that far off the path of democracy yet, this is still a free country. (so far) Would you do the same for the nail salon where I go? Should they have to identify themselves as prolife? What about racist? What about their ethnicity? Should that be in the title as well?Remember again, 60% of our clients are coming in because of referrals. A friend or relative sends them. If that friend or relative felt coerced, deceived, manipulated, uncomfortable or in any way unhappy with our services, would they send a friend?By the way, when you have some time, check out the names of some of the abortion clinics in the country. What do you say about "Bread and Roses Health Center?" Does that tell me I can get an abortion there? No. Is it clear at all what they do?

In law, and in medicine, the scope of the duty to disclose is usually determined by thinking what information a reasonable person would find relevant in making the decision that they are likely to make in a particular context. . Since your nail salon isn't providing any services that are related to abortions, I don't think it they need to disclose their stand on abortion. .There are really only two options with respect to a pregnancy: have an abortion, or carry the pregnancy to term. Both are legal. I think it is reasonable for a vulnerable woman to want to know up front, before going in a center, whether the center thinks both options are really options, or whether they will try to talk her out of or into one or the other option.I think, incidentally, an OB/GYN who won't prescribe birth control ought to be clear about that up front too.

Well it is good to clarify your thoughts, thank you. I would really caution you about thinking a woman can be talked into having a child. Please, we are talking about 9 months here. She may spend an hour or so with us, is it that easy to manipulate a woman (or anyone) into doing somethng for the next 9 months? If so, I know a lot of parents who would like to learn your techniques so they can impress upon their children the need to stay in school, off drugs, and out of trouble.Regarding the rest:1. I do spend an hour or so at the nail salon, maybe I don't want to listen to their philosophies on abortion, or any other stance they have. Should I have a right to know ahead of time what they think, feel and believe about issues before I commit to their services? Essentially, that is what you are saying.2. A reasonable person would find it relevant to have all of the information upfront before making a decision - yes, indeed. That is precisely WHY we provide the woman with information about the abortion procedure, support services should she keep the child, and adoption information (another legal option by the way)3. What about the woman who simply has not made up her mind? Nearly 90% of our clients say they are UNDECIDED when they come in. First of all, they don't even know if they are pregnant, secondly, they don't know how far along they are (usually a big factor) if they are pregnant. Isn't it better to have that information before making a decision? When it comes down to it, if your concern is about the vulnerable woman, focus your energies on the practices of the abortion clinic. A woman who walks in there gets one option (ironically not a choice, because having one option only means there is no choice) and she is charged for all of the services. Abortion clinics profit from her pain, and her suffering. We make no profit by serving her. No one likes to talk about that aspect of it - the profit. Think about the motivations of the clinic owner. A vulnerable woman walks in, sad, upset, and under stress. If she stays for an abortion, the clinic owner makes 400 dollars off of her. If she leaves and does not abort... no profit. This is the BUSINESS of the abortion clinic owner. Her mortgage is paid by these profits, her motorcycle, her swimming pool, her vacation. Where do you think her motivations pull her? Towards helping the woman discern her true feelings about the pregnancy or to towards selling her that abortion?Additionally, if a woman sets an appointment for the abortion, she is required to pay a minimum of 100 (sometimes 150) dollars down, which is NOT refunded to her should she change her mind. Is that ethical? Is that moral?

Anne, thanks for your willingness to offer info here. I'm discovering things I really never thought or knew about this issue before.Here's a question:In Michigan, there's a 24-hour waiting period, and the documents women must be provided with are here:http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-2940_4909-45202--,00.htmlThere is information about emotional after effects and complications from abortion. There is no ultrasound required, but a color picture is shown of the fetus at various stages.Do you feel these types of informed consent materials are adequate and make some of the services at pro-life clinic (specifically, abortion education) redundant? Or are such materials inadequate?

Actually, I think those types of laws are very helpful, however, they are not present in every state. In Florida, the abortion industry has fought tooth and nail against any type of pre-abortion information. I do not think it makes the services redundant, my guess is that they are not offered free at abortion clinics so, in that regard, a woman is much better off if she visits a center where she can get the same information for free.

FWIW, every woman who seeks an abortion in Michigan is required to view the materials at the state site (linked above). So abortion clinics must show the info to women and keep signed statements from women seeking abortions on file. How the information is presented is probably as important as what info gets presented. I'm inclined to agree with Cathleen, that any center/clinic that claims to "support" women in a crisis pregnancy should explain how it will do that and at what cost. Should it be a law? I don't know. I don't think OB/GYNs have to divulge their views on abortion, though a quick scan of the local Yellow Pages show that a few clinics DO put "pro-life practice" in their adverts.I think it's in everyone's best interest when that type of info is available. When I was surprised by pregnancy at 41, I told my GP to refer me to an OB who was not going to emphasize the risks of "advanced maternal age" (cuz I had a mother-in-law enthusiastically doing that job already).

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