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September 21, 2011 10:07 AM   Subscribe

"What Every Woman Should Know" by Susie Cagle on Cartoon Movement provides an illustrated investigation of "crisis pregnancy centers" like First Resort. (via)
posted by mrgrimm (41 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's useful info in this, but it sprawls a lot. If the first part had just focused completely on what these clinics look like, and how they deceive and manipulate clients, then all the backgrounder information (history of FC, PP, contraception, stats on unwanted pregnancy) would have followed nicely.

If this comic is at least partially aimed at women who might not know what these offices are actually all about -- and the title suggests that -- then you need to tell that story clearly and emphatically first.

Right now, pages 2 and 3 tell the story, then it diverges into the other topics, then it turns back into a field guide in pages 10-11. This approach works for motivated readers of feature stories, but it isn't teaching.
posted by maudlin at 10:37 AM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions?
posted by SoFlo1 at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2011


maudlin: thanks! I wanted to like this when I first saw it, but it seemed like a failure to me but I couldn't articulate why, and.you've summed it up nicely: "If this comic is at least partially aimed at women who might not know what these offices are actually all about -- and the title suggests that -- then you need to tell that story clearly and emphatically first."

There is some really important information in here, but it's so deeply buried. I could barely find a narrative, much less a clear statement of what the clinics claim to be, what they really are, and how they manipulate people at a vulnerable moment,
posted by crush-onastick at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2011


I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions?
Did you read the comic at the link? That would probably help you understand the author's point.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions?

No, we're supposed to be upset because they present themselves as unbiased women's resource centers, when they actually intend to steer women away from having an abortion. They use misinformation and emotional manipulation, not medical advice.
posted by gladly at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Did you read the comic at the link? That would probably help you understand the author's point.
Yes I did.

I think I could guess at the point the author was trying to make (in the somewhat scattered and far reaching comic) but I didn't actually see substantiation for a claim of harm. Maybe "investigates" has a different meaning for me. Or I'm just a cynical prick, which could also be I guess.
posted by SoFlo1 at 10:55 AM on September 21, 2011



I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions?


I think the issue is that offer themselves as a medical establishment, not a political one, but politics is what they're really about. The "crisis pregnancy centers" link notes that they are using bait and switch tactics on people looking for abortions. So, no they're upset because because these people have a non-medical agenda and they aren't dealing honestly with the public.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:58 AM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


SoFlo1: but I didn't actually see substantiation for a claim of harm

What's illustrated on page 17 seems pretty harmful to me. Telling women they have plenty of time to consider taking a morning-after pill when in fact the chances of it working dwindle rapidly over time is extremely manipulative and deceiving.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


@SoFlo1: The problem is that when you're interested in an abortion and google "abortion Oakland" you get these folks.

It's like -- what if you were really hungry and googled "best bacon cheeseburger NYC," and headed off to a "sandwich shop" which when you got there was actually PETA.
posted by hungrytiger at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2011 [29 favorites]


Sorry, that should be page 13... and direct linking to pages doesn't appear to work very well. Anyhow, my point stands.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2011


...or like, what if you googled "get life-saving blood transfusion" and an ambulance came and took you to a Christian Science Reading Room.
posted by hungrytiger at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2011 [27 favorites]


Yeah, the story or argument there was not as clear as it could have been. A chart comparing and contrasting services offered at Planned Parenthood vs First Resort could've gone a long way to quickly clarifying the differences between them.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I could guess at the point the author was trying to make

Guessing is not the same thing as confirming. You actually seem to have guessed wrong.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe "investigates" has a different meaning for me.

poor choice of words, i agree. imagine "investigation" is "report," and i promise to work on my usage.


I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions?

I'm not an expert (and I didn't provide links on larger trends in "crisis pregnancy centers," which I should have), but there are a few problems that i see:

* Delay tactics - these places try to stall women seeking abortions, when time is important
* False advertising - these places use marketing tactics to trick women into thinking they are a starting place when they want an abortion
* State laws (like South Dakota) that require that women seeking abortions first visit these places that do not provide abortions nor refer women to abortion clinics
* Infilitration of college campuses (and receiving federal funds, though hopefully not anymore)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's illustrated on page 17 seems pretty harmful to me.

I would agree. And further, if they're advertising themselves as abortion clinics to lure women in that's reprehensible. I didn't see evidence of that but maybe I'm missing that "pregnancy center" in the new euphemism for aborting clinic and by adopting that title they've misappropriated it.

I do think they're perfectly within their rights to choose not to perform abortions and to advocate positions they feel are truly best for the overall long term health of the mother. To reduce these people to evil caricatures misses the mark. The piece essentially boiled down to that, along with "lies, lies, lies" without much proof and a bunch of reproductive rights advocacy thrown in for good measure.

Not trying to be contrarian here, it just felt off to me.
posted by SoFlo1 at 11:16 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do think they're perfectly within their rights to choose not to perform abortions and to advocate positions they feel are truly best for the overall long term health of the mother.

In what cases would you want your doctor to recommend treatment to you based on his spiritual and political leanings? How regularly do you investigate the religious and moral leanings of your medical professionals?

This is more like Scientology Recruitment Centers pretending to offer psychiatric counseling than anything else.
posted by gladly at 11:24 AM on September 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


maybe I'm missing that "pregnancy center" in the new euphemism for aborting clinic

Abortion is an extremely important part of woman's reproductive health, and no place that doesn't consider pregnancy a valid option should label itself a "pregnancy center".

In the same way, you shouldn't have a "Teen crisis center" that says homosexuality is wrong.


The idea of labeling any place that does abortions an "abortion clinic" is mere right-wing messaging.
posted by Theta States at 11:26 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do think they're perfectly within their rights to choose not to perform abortions and to advocate positions they feel are truly best for the overall long term health of the mother.

Um, the artist agrees with you and says so in the comic--but that if they're going to do that, they need to be up front about that. And ads on bus stops (I've seen them) that say "Pregnant? Stressed? Scared?" are not up front.
posted by liketitanic at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


if they're advertising themselves as abortion clinics to lure women in that's reprehensible. I didn't see evidence of that

@SoFlo1, are you sure you read the whole comic? On page 10 she writes that if you google "Abortion SF" you get Google ads for these guys, saying they are an "Abortion Info Women's Pregnancy Clinic."
posted by hungrytiger at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And ads on bus stops (I've seen them) that say "Pregnant? Stressed? Scared?" are not up front.

I have seen the same sorts of ads. "Worried about pregnancy? We can help!"

There's an implied message there, and it's not "we're a religion front group designed to talk you out of abortion."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


More truthful signage would be...

"Pregnant? Stressed? Scared? Conservative? We can help."

"Are you a youth with suicidal thoughts, questions about sexuality, or depression, and you hate homosexuality? We can help."

"Are you a moderately wealthy, confused adult looking for an alien saviour to offer your time and wealth to? We can help."

"Are you an uncritical bored person with a general sense of malaise and a fascination with the memory of water? We can help."
posted by Theta States at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you Google "abortion Redwood City" the top result is First Resort. It's the second result on Bing. (These aren't ads, they're search results.)

I was pleasantly surprised that the same search on Yahoo resulted in Planned Parenthood as the top two listings, with no sign of First Resort. (Although Life Abortion Altrntv Ministry in Vallejo did come up as third.)

I'm no SEO expert, so I'm not sure how these rankings happen, but the results seem pretty deceptive.

It's not hard to see how a scared young woman looking for abortion information could be misled.
posted by not.so.hip at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comic did not make it clear to SoFlo1 what is wrong with CPCs despite his having read the comic in good faith. That's confirmation of the problems identified by maudlin. The main point (these centers are bad because they are deliberately deceptive) fits on a postage stamp. It should have been on page one, not be buried on pages 10 and 17.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some SEO Wizard needs to get on this and put up a site with legit info...
posted by melissam at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2011


Here's the scene in "Citizen Ruth" that depicts a counseling session in one of these deceptive women's health fronts.

Neither side gets away un-lampooned in this great movie.
posted by longsleeves at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2011


SoFlo1 wrote: I guess we're to be upset that they only offer counselling and not actual abortions

You should be upset because the purpose of these clinics is to confuse women into delaying too long to use Plan B or get an abortion. I have no problem with them existing. There are people who get pregnant, want to keep the baby, but have no support system. (I'd be even happier if they ran some sort of support system for new mothers, rather than just trying to keep people from thinking about abortion until it's too late, but I digress) I have a big problem with their false advertisement.
posted by wierdo at 1:15 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as a piece of polemic, this comic was just a mess. Awful organization.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:15 PM on September 21, 2011


My go-to resource on "crisis pregnancy centers" is CPC watch. If you scroll down on the "About CPCs" page, there's a great compendium of the kinds of misinformation regularly shown on CPC websites. On the fact vs. fiction page:
Despite our strong objections to the way CPCs advertise themselves and treat women who are considering abortion, we absolutely do not wish to convey the message that no woman could receive help at a crisis pr egnancy center. For folks who have decided to continue their pregnancies and desire Christian-based help, we see no reason why the majority of crisis pregnancy centers cannot provide a safe place to receive support. We understand that many CPCs refer women to the Medicaid office, help them with WIC paperwork, even work with local birth professionals to provide free and low-cost doula services.

This does not change the fact that CPCs work, primarily, to confuse and derail women who are seeking abortions.
posted by muddgirl at 1:15 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are people who get pregnant, want to keep the baby, but have no support system.

Seriously? Why is there this idea that Planned Parenthood doesn't help people who don't want abortions.
Again, this is the result of constant right-wing messaging that PP "are only interested in making money off abortions".
posted by Theta States at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


There's an excellent documentary about an abortion clinic and a crisis pregnancy center which are on opposite corners from each other: 12th & Delaware

Here's an interview with the filmmakers: "12th & Delaware" Offers Unique Inside Look at Struggle Between Abortion Clinic and Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Care Center
posted by homunculus at 1:34 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]




I think I could guess at the point the author was trying to make (in the somewhat scattered and far reaching comic) but I didn't actually see substantiation for a claim of harm.

I was going to post something in response to this exactly like what homunculus linked.

Family Planning Clinics in Texas are often the primary source of health care for a lot of women. Pap smears, blood work for things like cholesterol or liver disease, and other services are provided there by actual health care providers.

CPCs don't actually employ people like that, and don't offer the same services. As funding gets transferred from family planning clinics (which in TX don't actually perform abortions but are politically called "abortion clinics" anyway) to CPCs, women suffer harm by being denied the low-cost health care they were receiving which went far beyond birth control and reproductive health.
posted by hippybear at 4:16 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine unknowingly went to a CPC when she was seeking an abortion (which she did end up getting, at a Planned Parenthood about 80 miles away). Not only did they try to pressure her out of getting the abortion, they also pressured her to reunite with the prospective father, an abusive, controlling PTSD sufferer. (And yep, they trotted out the little fetus doll, just like in Citizen Ruth.)
posted by Nibbly Fang at 5:10 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the author's aims were good, the subject needs to be talked about, and these "clinics" need to be exposed for what they really are. However, this comic falls far short of making it's aims and it's subject clear. This comic was dry, meandering, and confusing. I like her drawing style, though. Maybe she could team up with an editor.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:19 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate the duplicity of these places, and the hypocrisy involved in no real after care of the supposed "pro-life" movement in general.

That said and not to derail but, the term crisis pregnancy center really bugs me, just because the language. Shouldn't it be pregnancy crisis center? I'm having a pregnancy crisis, I am having a crisis because of a pregnancy. I am not pregnant from crisis. I did not get pregnant because I was having some kind of crisis. I don't know, I am probably wrong and the term is just fine, it just sounds very odd to my ear.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 6:45 PM on September 21, 2011


I've been through this kind of agency when I was a teenager just learning I was pregnent. It's much worse than this comic described. Maybe they treated an adult with that much courtesy and respect, but I was given inaccurate sex ed, locked in a room with some horrid graphic abortion movie playing, and endured a lot of pressure to sign up to adopt out my child. All of this with a heavy Christian flavor and a strong "You sinned" vibe. I literally had to have a screaming & threatening hissy fit to get out of the building. It's name was, literally, "Crisis Pregnancy Center".

Then I called the cops. And pressed charges for kidnapping. However, the state wasn't interested in prosecuting at the time. (Yeah, it's a red state.) But it scared them just as bad as they frightened me.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


@SoFlo1: to add to the chorus of reasons why CPCs are so awful, they don't always employ people who are actual doctors or nurses, and do not fall under HIPAA laws. I've heard stories of young women who are scared going to these clinics and giving them information, only to later call their home phone number and pretty much "out" the pregnancy to whoever was listening. This could be especially damaging to a teen who will get kicked out if her parents find out about her pregnancy, or to a woman who is in an abusive relationship. And this isn't a HIPAA violation, because they are not actual medical clinics. (Even though they pretend they are)

@_paegan_: you pressed charges for kidnapping?!? You are awesome. It's shame that didn't do anything, but good for you for giving them a good scare.

In general: I feel like this should have been entitled "What every woman in San Fransisco should know". I know about the whole CPC thing, and was still confused at first about all this talk of "First Resort" until I read awhile. And yeah, it was way meandering and could have been much clearer. Which is a shame, since the comic format could be perfect for giving out this type of information clearly!
posted by sherber at 1:07 AM on September 22, 2011


Try this Google search on for size: "does not recommend, provide, or refer single women for contraceptives"

Marital status discrimination in healthcare, much?
posted by Skwirl at 6:25 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Married women seeking contraceptive information should be urged to seek counsel, along with their husbands, from their pastor and physician
It doesn't look like they'll give contraceptives to married women, either. It seems like a cover for the fact that they can't prescribe contraceptives. Because they're not really health clinics.
posted by muddgirl at 7:21 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]






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