Home Support system Even in California, crisis pregnancy centers play a key role

Even in California, crisis pregnancy centers play a key role


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Angela Jozwicki, of Centereach, NY, and her son Cameryn pose for a portrait in 2018. Jozwicki received support from Soundview Pregnancy Services at Centereach when she delivered Cameryn.  The Crisis Pregnancy Centers have sparked political debate, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she wants the Crisis Pregnancy Centers closed.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Angela Jozwicki, of Centereach, NY, and her son Cameryn pose for a portrait in 2018. Jozwicki received support from Soundview Pregnancy Services at Centereach when she delivered Cameryn. The Crisis Pregnancy Centers have sparked political debate, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she wants the Crisis Pregnancy Centers closed. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said that she wants all the crisis pregnancy centers in the country closed and that she has introduced legislation that she hopes to achieve this goal.

“These emergency pregnancy centers that are there to deceive people looking to terminate their pregnancies are three times more numerous than real abortion clinics,” Warren said. “We need to shut them down here in Massachusetts, and we need to shut them down across the country.”

Are we really so easily fooled that we can’t tell the difference between a clinic that performs abortions and one that doesn’t? I believe women who say this is what happened to thembut it is not true that this is how all these places operate.

And whatever your vision of the right to abortion, for a person without resources who wants to carry their baby to term but who needs all the help possible, the closure of these clinics would be a real loss.

Because just like Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform abortions provide services that crisis pregnancy centers do not, the reverse is also true. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, California was chosen as the destination for the abortion. But in Sacramento and across the state, poor women who have decided to continue with their pregnancies still need the kind of help that clinics that perform abortions don’t provide.

At Sacramento Life Center, which opened 50 years ago, “we get referrals from Planned Parenthood,” says executive director Marie Leatherby, “because we’re filling a gap that they’re not filling.” According to its database, five patients said they were referred by Planned Parenthood in the past two years.

Andrew Adams, chief of staff for Mar Monte family planning, say no, that never happens. “This is categorically false. We would never refer someone to an emergency pregnancy center. They would have gone there on their own.

I don’t see how he can know that no clinic employee ever told a client she could get a free ultrasound or a crib across town, but it’s true that I only heard that of those who work for clinics that do not perform abortions.

Heidi Matzke, Executive Director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, told a recent US Senate hearing on abortion access, “Ironically, where we are in Sacramento, California, Planned Parenthood actually sends patients to us. … The fact that Planned Parenthood sees the value in who we are and what we offer women is important for everyone here to understand. Later, in an email, she said: ‘Since January, 16 people have checked a box on their intake form indicating that they heard about us from PP.’

At Claris Health in Los Angeles, a nonprofit community clinic specializing in pregnancy loss, adoption, and post-abortion care, CEO Talitha Phillips says, “We get referrals from several abortion providers in our region. We received reference sheets.

Sometimes, she says, “it’s because we provide the service for free” that other clinics charge. Other times, she says, clients come in for an ultrasound “to see if the pregnancy is viable and then decide whether or not to terminate it. Some people don’t want to do that the same day” as a layoff.

“I never found out if the superiors were okay with that,” Leatherby said of those references. But it doesn’t surprise her at all that some frontline Planned Parenthood counselors refer women to her they can’t help because “most of them are compassionate people” – her pro-choice counterparts, wants she say – “and are just interested in helping women, just like us.

Not All Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are The Same

So what exactly does Sacramento Life fill?

A fully licensed and accredited medical clinic, it enrolls clients for Medical and WIC and finds them doctors, including paediatricians, for ongoing care. It is non-religious and does not proselytize, but offers prenatal vitamins and care, parenting classes, fatherhood mentors for men, big ticket items such as strollers, car seats and cribs, as well as a monthly supply of diapers, baby food and clothing for two years. It’s all free – paid for through private donations.

The Claris site clarifies what it does not do: “To be clear, Claris does not perform abortions..” The Alternatives Pregnancy Center site doesn’t say that, but lists “abortion pill reversal” and “post-abortion recovery classes” among its services, which seems like a pretty direct message.

Sacramento Life does not mention abortion at all on its website, but states, “Ensuring that every pregnant woman has the resources and support she needs to give birth and raise her child in a loving home is our goal. unshakeable. Her clinic and others also help trans couples and see men for STD tests, she said. “We take everyone.”

Some people still call or come in thinking Sacramento Life performs abortions, says Leatherby, who before taking that job a decade ago sold real estate. But “we are very frank. We don’t “trick” women into coming. I disagree with clinics that would ever do that.

But then, she adds, not all of the places we might consider crisis pregnancy centers are the same: “There are good restaurants and bad restaurants.”

Phillips, of Claris Health, also made this point: “We’re very transparent when people call, but there are other organizations I’ve seen that might come across as more manipulative.”

The umbrella term “crisis pregnancy center” can refer to two grandmothers handing out blankets and counseling, or to an actual medical clinic.

Claris even dismisses the name “crisis pregnancy center,” which Phillips says “has been used to target organizations.” She says her organization has rejected that label from both the right and the left: “It’s not just the pro-choice side but the pro-life side saying, ‘We’re going to decide who you are.’ ”

Although Claris also rejects the “pro-life” label – “we steer clear of all political terms” – she has had anti-abortion groups refuse to remove Claris from their list. And his organization was disinvited from a planned visit to the college campus with a mobile clinic that was only going to offer free pap smears.

Repeat Sacramento Life client Kristen Marshall, 35, who lives in Carmichael, told me the counselors there are like family to her, helping her through a total of 10 pregnancies since the day she saw their phone number on their mobile. van 15 years ago.

“Growing up in foster care, I never had any mothering or support system,” and this program has been that for her, she said, through the birth of her three children, six miscarriages and one abortion, which she suffered during an abusive period. relationship, shortly after the birth of a child with serious physical problems.

She mentioned Sacramento Life counselors pressured her on one front, strongly urging her to get a coronavirus shot. But “I have their support whatever I decide to do. It’s your body. It’s up to you. I feel like they’re pro-life, but I know I’m not going to be judged there. Some other programs require you to take certain courses to get certain benefits. They don’t do that.

This is an explosive time for abortion clinics and crisis pregnancy centers, and attacks on either are inexcusable either way. If calling abortion doctors murderers can lead to violence, and of course it can, and has, then how do you call crisis pregnancy centers “fake clinics” that exist to deceive? vulnerable people not carry the same risk?

Matzke, of Alternatives Pregnancy, testified during the Senate hearing that she saw the man who came to the door of the clinic with a machete early one recent morning, before a security guard pulled him spooks, as part of the post-Roe spate of attacks on clinics. like his. She sees the woman who tried to get away with the clinic’s mobile van several weeks ago under the same light.

Times and crimes being what they are, these incidents may have nothing to do with abortion. But of course she would fear that they were related, given the many documented attacks that happened across the country. And that his clinic recently spent $150,000 on increasing security rather than services for those in need is something we should all be able to consider worse than a waste.

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Melinda Henneberger is the local columnist for The Sacramento Bee. She has covered crime, local and state government, hospitals, social services, prisons and national politics. For 10 years she was a reporter for The New York Times in New York, Washington, DC and Rome. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2022, was a Pulitzer Finalist for Commentary in 2021, for Editorial Writing in 2020, and for Commentary in 2019. She received the Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Writing for columns of the News Leaders Association in 2022 and 2019. , as well as the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for Opinion Writing in 2018.