A Crisis of Conscience

by Courtroom Mama on November 7, 2010

A pregnant New York Times reporter recently conducted an “undercover” investigation of three New York City centers allegedly offering pregnancy counseling. Two of them were crisis pregnancy centers, one of them was Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Center.

I was completely and totally unsurprised at her description of the silent alarm triggered by her response to seeing the ultrasound.

Did that tear trigger some alarm? Suddenly, two more people crowded into that tiny, darkened room. One asked if I was considering abortion.

Well, no. But I do sometimes find the prospect of a second child terrifying, and I said so. At which point Linda Marzulla, the center’s effusively warm director, administered a therapeutic technique that might be called the Love Bomb.

“The gift you’re carrying is perfection par excellence,” she told me. She commiserated about how scary pregnancy can be. She talked about the value of siblings, and the memory of her brother at their dying mother’s side.

Nor was I surprised that she was given misleading information that has not been supported by evidence-based research, such as the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer, and so-called post-abortion syndrome.

What surprised me, though, was that neither of the crisis pregnancy centers counseled the reporter on adoption (Planned Parenthood did). They told her that they would “work hard” to get “any kind of assistance—counseling, a job, a place to stay—” for her. I don’t know if this has already been done, but I would love to see someone follow this through all the way to see exactly what sort of assistance they offer. From what I understand, for the most part it involves turning women over to state assistance.

New York is following in the footsteps of Baltimore and Austin in considering a measure that would require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether or not they provide abortion services or referrals. These measures are controversial for some reason that is wholly beyond me. I am in favor of disclosure all around–for example, I would love to see obstetrical practices disclosing the fact that they do not attend VBACs or breeches right there on the front door. If I had a nickel for every woman I knew who got the 36-week bait-and-switch, I’d be eating nickel soup. Women deciding whether or not to carry to term would naturally also benefit from more information about their provider instead of less.

There was one little throwaway note that seemed interesting to me. She says:

As an abortion provider, Planned Parenthood is the only one of the three pregnancy counseling centers I visited with a financial stake in clients’ decisions.

I have to think more about this, but my gut reaction was where are CPCs getting their money?

Also, why in the world is this in the City Critic section? Just like how anything about birth gets shoved into Life and Style.

(h/t @KushielsMoon)