Friday, Jul 20, 2018
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Not providing does not mean prohibiting

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Protesters at a recent rally call on ProMedica to undo its agreement with Capital Care abortion clinic.

The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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Words or prayers amount to nothing if they do not influence the way you act.

In high school, I used to “pray” outside the local abortion clinic. I remember holding posters with typical pro-life sentiments, like “Adoption, not abortion,” and “A person’s a person, no matter how small” — a quote from Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.

But I never actually did anything.

Protesting caused more harm than good. I remember looking into the faces of women walking out of the clinic, faces that expressed feelings I could not comprehend.

I fully deserved the middle fingers, and I fully deserved being hit with a tobacco-spit bottle that a passing driver threw at me.

Unlike parading around abortion clinics with rosaries and witty signs, crisis pregnancy centers actually do things to help women.

Before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of anti-abortion clinics in the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Becerra, the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act forced anti-abortion clinics to inform women about a local abortion provider.

Women should know their options — and, thanks to the internet, it is easier now than it has ever been for women to locate clinics that provide abortion procedures.

But are abortion clinics forced to tell women about clinics that do not promote abortion — clinics that can help the mother and child after the baby is born?

There are many places in California for women to have a safe, legal, confidential abortion. Planned Parenthood alone has over 100 clinics in California, and there are countless other hospitals and clinics that provide abortions.

In an NPR story, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue claimed that crisis pregnancy centers are “fake women’s health centers” and that the recent Supreme Court ruling puts Roe v. Wade at risk.

These centers do not falsely assert that they provide abortions in order to lure women in and convince them to keep their child. They just don’t advertise for other’s abortion facilities, just like abortion facilities do not advertise for them.

A close friend invited me to volunteer at Alpha Omega Crisis Pregnancy Center in Hillsdale, Mich., at the beginning of the year. I volunteer there when I can — which is not as much as I should or would like to.

Though I cannot speak for other centers, Alpha Omega does not shame women into choosing to keep their pregnancy. If a woman leaves Alpha Omega convinced that keeping the pregnancy is not the best option for her, she can walk out and choose abortion.

And I can assure you that, while the owners of these anti-abortion clinics would like to overturn Roe v. Wade, they would much rather spend their limited time and funds on providing services to women and their babies — including free pregnancy tests and infant clothing.

Friction between pro-choice and pro-life groups is undoubtedly one of the most heated contentions in local, national, and world politics. Recently, local pro-lifers called ProMedica “murderers” for offering to provide women help when their abortion procedures go wrong. Pro-choicers call those who value the growing creation inside the mother’s womb “anti-woman.”

But the complicated and painful decision that a woman makes regarding whether or not to have an abortion is much more important than politics. A woman carries her choice with her for the rest of her life — as point of pride, or shame, or any of the multitude of emotions in between.

I no longer pray in front of abortion clinics. Women who go there to receive care do not need to see my self-righteous signs or hear they are sinners. They need support — which crisis pregnancy centers can offer, too.

There are three things that I hope most individuals who claim to be either pro- or anti-abortion can agree on. First, a woman deserves full knowledge of all available options. Second, a woman does not deserve to be chastised for making a choice — either to receive an abortion or not — that she believes is in her best interest. And, finally, making progress to either increase or decrease the legality of abortion is not about saying what you believe, but doing what you believe.

Alexis Nester is an editorial intern for The Blade. Contact her at: anester@theblade.com or 419-724-6157.

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