Crisis Pregnancy Centers and family dynamics

This is an excellent piece from Katherine Spillar.  If you have just 10 minutes, watch the YouTube video and read the text later.  And then do your homework: what’s happening in your community?  what are your thoughts on the issue, and on the larger issues of reproductive rights, sex education, deception/shaming of women about their bodies and choices, religion in health care, and federal funding.

And read below the link…the issue of Crisis Pregnancy Centers is personal to me…but not for the reason you might assume.

Crisis of Deception: Fake Clinics Spread Misinformation on the Federal Dime

 by Katherine Spillar (

Crisis pregnancy centers are fake clinics that provide deceptive and erroneous information to both pregnant and non-pregnant women on pregnancy, abortion, and contraception. And they often brazenly violate the separation of church and state. …

A personal connection, a family division

I sent the above article to a few friends with the following note:  “[…] My mom volunteers at a “crisis pregnancy center” […]. I am respectful and don’t confront her – it wouldn’t do anything but drive a wedge.  But I would welcome any advice from my sisters on how to rationally speak with my family on why such clinics are NOT HELPING ANYTHING, and are immensely harmful and dangerous.  My family is quite religious […] I would like to start a dialogue…but this proud Feminist is struggling.”

Advice came in.  Most said that despite how I feel about crisis pregnancy centers (and I DO think they’re dangerous, and DO think they’re spreading information that is not factual or scientific and are scaring women into a decision that isn’t based on their decision, made after they have all the information on all options for their care), I can’t change my family and shouldn’t try.  And on reflection, I realized they were correct.  I wrote back to the same group of friends.  Here’s part of what I said:

I didn’t intend to come across as if I expected that I could somehow change my mom, dad, or anyone else in my family, but see now that I did (and OK, maybe some small part of me wishes we agreed on a few more things OR that we were a big ‘debate the issues’ family, which we’re not…pretty much the opposite).

I know I can’t change anyone except myself.  So I will keep on lovin’ each one of them and supporting them where they are and in what they believe, and I will hope that perhaps some some day we’ll all be more comfortable discussing my point of view.  Why do I say discussing “my point of view”?  Because I listen at length to anything and everything they have to say.  I am comfortable with it, and supportive of their views, ask questions, and actually find it all interesting; it helps me understand them and their lives…and they are where I came from.  It just gets hard sometimes because I don’t feel I have the same invitation to speak of my feelings/thoughts on issues.

This is how we’ve operated since I left home for college: Leave politics and the issues discussed in this article out of the conversation (other than to occassionally touch on mom’s volunteer time at “The Center”).  We know we are on opposite sides of the line on abortion (we talked about it once when I was 17 and she made me watch a video about abortion and watch an abortion actually being done).  Even so, I do think we might agree on other reproductive rights issues: positive effects of good prenatal, natal, and post-natal care; the positive effects of widely available birth control to help people safely plan families and to reduce abortions and disease; etc.  But we’d have to talk about it as women’s health care, not reproductive rights.  And that’s just fine, since reproductive rights are a part of health care.
I know in my heart, head, and soul that my mom, dad, and brother have only the very best in mind for their fellow human beings.  And so do I.  My mom and dad are where I got my love for volunteering, my desire to give back, my sense of duty (in a positive way) to donate money/goods/give to those in need even when it’s not always easy, and to genuinely love others unconditionally.  And dad taught me what being egalitarian means.  Mom and dad continue to do this, and I only hope I live up to that valuable teaching.
So, dear reader, what is YOUR experience with crisis pregnancy centers…and with your family/friends/co-workers/acquaintances as relates to them (and to sex ed, reproductive health, etc)?
In sisterhood,
Jessica Trites Rolle
Feminist, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator

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