Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Same old anti-choice lies

Yesterday a friend asked if anyone would be available today to crash an anti-choice event on a nearby college campus. I took a long lunch to sit in on the “Pregnancy on Campus” discussion, which was just a pro-life lecture and spent only a few seconds discussing pregnancy on campus.

I know little about pregnancy and felt unequipped, so I printed out NARAL’s 11 Most Common Lies Told by Crisis Pregnancy Centers to bring with me as well as a careful ear for what services the speakers’ organizations actually provide to women. Representatives from a nearby “women’s center,” Project Gabriel, and Project Rachel/Rachel Ministries came to speak to an audience of about 17, nearly half of them members of the hosting organizations.

Project Gabriel uses a mentor program to provide pregnant women with emotional and spiritual support and has a discretionary fund to provide financial support as well, seeking baby items online for women who need them. The Rachel group focuses on post-abortion counseling services and retreats for men and women of all ages but requires guardian attendance for teenagers. So kids who need help but whose parents would beat their asses for getting knocked up are clearly SOL.

The speaker from the women’s center had a pretty good presentation, from a PR standpoint. She declared, “There is no war on women” and said her organization is “pro-women and pro-choicES,” using Wendy Davis as a role model of a successful woman who had an unexpected pregnancy at 19. At which point someone from the gallery shouted out, “AND SHE’S PRO-CHOICE!” I smiled to learn there was someone in the room who shared my views, and at the end of the presentation, two of the people in attendance who were affiliated with some of these groups rushed out to stop and thank me effusively for my attendance and my respectful questions.

The women’s center offers free pregnancy testing, STI testing and treatment, and sonograms, as well as referrals to pro-life health care providers as needed. Their speaker emphasized that their goal is to support all women regardless of what choice they make, “no pressure, no shaming,” though not without a strong statement about everyone’s constitutional right to life. Most of her presentation was a slideshow of Reproduction 101: How Babies Develop.

She said fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, and in the question and answer session, I asked if she had a source for this statement because it was my understanding that this is widely contested. She said the evidence was presented at the Capitol this year and influenced lawmakers’ decision to ban abortion after 20 weeks. (It didn't.) So that’s a NO. There is no science to support the fetal pain assertion.

The Gabriel speaker was quick to tell us about the breast cancer risk and imply that the media gatekeepers are hiding this from us in some conspiracy. I asked, “This question may be a bit out there, but can you speculate why the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, and the National Cancer Society all assert that there is no link between breast cancer and abortion?”

'Well, I can’t speculate why SOME organization would say that, but there are real research studies out there that show this is true.'

The AMA has made some boneheaded choices this year, but the correlational studies that suggest a link are poorly designed to say the least.

I got a creepy squishy fetus from the event demonstrating the features of a 20-week-old fetus. It’s the same material as real-feel sex toys. I also picked up a few brochures: The Pill Kills, which explains that the hormones altered by birth control cause women to choose abusive mates. And: Planned Parenthood Exploits Teens (for PROFIT!) A: Provide low-cost health care to disadvantaged women on a sliding scale payment plan. B: ? C: PROFIT!

Same old anti-choice lies with a friendlier face.

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