I decided to go to another Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) for many reasons. The attacks on reproductive justice have increased since I went undercover to EMC Frontline in July, a CPC chain in New York City who boasts to be part of the choice opposition in what they call “the abortion capital of America.” Since my last CPC visit, Texas has enacted anti-choice measures that will impact safe access to legal abortion for a third of the state’s women; North Carolina passed sweeping abortion restrictions masked behind a motorcycle bill; and Lindsay Graham introduced a 20-week abortion ban to the Senate, claiming that “nothing bad is going to happen” if it passed.
There is a very palpable energy that is rising in the anti-choice community lately. Truth trucks are roaming around Albuquerque; Operation Rescue’s attacks on Dr. Anne Neuhaus, an abortion provider who was a consultant to the late Dr. George Tiller, have left her financial ruin- and then there are the CPCs.
In August, Robin Marty reported for RH Reality Check that Ohio had approved a new budget diverting money away from Planned Parenthood, giving it to CPCs first. Ohio’s House also took TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) money and gave it to CPCs.
This past Monday, Lizz Winstead, Sarah Silverman, NARAL, NYAAF and Lady Parts Justice came together to produce “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can Choose,” a telethon whose proceeds of over $50,000 will benefit organizations in Texas that help fund abortions. On that same day, RH Reality Check’s Andrea Grimes reported that ‘Choose Life’ license plates raised $46,000 for the state’s CPCs and adoption agencies.
This is more than a war on reproductive justice. To regulate one’s body- to punish one’s person for having the ability to bear children and demand that person have an obligation to fulfill demented and misogynistic perceptions of what is a priority for women based on a fringe biblical agenda is perpetuating every stigma that maintains the status quo and dominance of our country’s racist, white patriarchal capitalist system. Yes, the law is on our side- but for how long?
And so, I went back. As I walked to the CPC in midtown, my hands felt clammy. I got nervous last time, too. Not because I was afraid my cover would be blown, but because it is so damn uncomfortable to live in my body as I know it to be, while pretending that I have no opinion whatsoever about the regulation of it.
This clinic was much nicer than the last. Before, I had entered through a tattoo shop. This building was nice. The waiting room was bright, clean and homey. There were big couches and photographs of trees and beautiful landscapes. It was decorated to my taste. This frightened me.
The information sheet I filled out was similar to the one at EMC Frontline except this time they listed “Jewish” under race. I checked that box and in the next column that asked about my religious affiliation, I marked “Atheist.”
A very kind woman ushered me into a room in the back, decorated with the same bright, clean colors as the waiting room. There was a big television- I know what this is for. Perpendicular to it were several book cases, one home to many bibles. I would be given one as I left.
I answered many of the same questions that EMC Frontline asked- who is the father? How did this happen? What are your feelings of self-worth? Do you want an abortion? Think of your sexual integrity.
I didn’t see a video this time but the woman read descriptions of abortion procedures with words and phrases I recalled from my visit to EMC- “fetal dismemberment;” “fetal parts accidentally left inside of you;” and for side effects, “eating disorders,” “depression;” “repression;” “death.”
“You’re not pregnant!” she exclaimed, later on. I faked excitement and relief.
I was handed two folders- one about abortion risks and one with instructions for “Ingredients for Successful Relationships.” Step one?
“Screen ‘em Before You Date ‘em.”
I was urged to consider my family’s expectations and my own family background. I was told values are important, too.
I asked if, in case I get pregnant in the future, they could refer me to anyone. They would give me referrals to sonographers. I asked if they could refer me to an abortion clinic, in case I wanted to learn more. I was looked at sternly. They don’t give referrals to abortion clinics.
“Are you faith-based here?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
I was encouraged to come back next week to learn about how to create a healthy relationship with a man.
I won’t go.