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Florida Pregnancy Help Center seeks to give women real choice—informed choice

by | Aug 2, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

For the last post of each week, I try to find something special. “A crisis pregnancy center in Florida wants to redefine choice,” by Claire McNeill, fills the bill.

McNeill is a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. Her in-depth look at “First Coast Women’s Services” is the third installment in a series. #2 and #3 represent her reporting of an abortion clinic [“A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville”] and this very busy pregnancy help center.

We may or may not get back to McNeill’s portrait of the abortion clinic. My interest is how fair she was in her story that ran yesterday–that is, did she look for every chance she had to take a shot at First Coast Women’s Services which, we learn, “now has four centers and a mobile unit dotting the suburbs, with about 470 clients a month”?

To cut to the chase, I found her story more than fair. The litmus test is how McNeil handled the pregnancy help center’s response to a typical initial inquiry:

If a woman calls to ask about the cost of an abortion, the center might not immediately say it doesn’t perform them. They don’t want someone to hang up, [Chief Executive Officer Judy] Weber says.

“We might say, ‘Why are you asking? Do you think you might be pregnant?’ ‘Well, yes, I might be.’ ‘Well, we don’t do abortions or refer for abortions. Would you like to come in for a free lab-grade pregnancy test?’”

Her job as a reporter is not to editorialize but to get the facts, present them fairly, let the center present how it feels about its mission, and let the reader decide for themselves.

Here are a few examples:

Down the hardwood hallways the women walk past other white doors and neat rows of books. Copies of Bible Promises for You and scores of Santa Biblias sit under a rustic sign that says LIVE SIMPLY.

In their panic, the women sometimes remind Judy Weber of animals caught in a trap, desperate to chew off a limb. She wants them to breathe, to realize they have time.

“No woman wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I can’t wait to have an abortion today,’” the chief executive officer says one afternoon in late June. “She thinks, I have no choice.”

Choice is what First Coast wants to discuss — informed choice

Weber adds later, it’s abortion clinics “that don’t always tell women the truth about all their options. ‘They need to know there’s support for choosing life, and whatever difficulties they’re facing, there’s help,’ Weber says.”

As for the typical slur that centers like First Coast “profit from deception,” Weber responds that First Coast is committed to “truthful, accurate, correct” information, without judgment.

What gives the story weight are the many details and nuances that anyone familiar with a pregnancy help center (also known as crisis pregnancy centers) would recognize, but are unknown to the wider public. For example,

*”Expectant parents can take classes to earn baby clothes and other necessities. The center has other services, like a coordinator who helps with difficult cases, like those of homeless women.”

*“She hears about drained bank accounts, missing moms, jobs lost, women kicked out and pressured by men.” Every day, pregnancy help centers deal with the nitty gritty details of life, lives made infinitely more complicated by an unplanned pregnancy and by the all-too-often reality of partner (or parental) coercion.

*It is very common for women who have had abortions to work at places such as First Coast. “Nancy Kelley, director of development, has found power in speaking about abortion in her past, which has resonated with other women. ‘We are them and they are us, all of the women that we see,’ she says.”

*“Katy Lucas, a sonographer, measures the fetus and gives ultrasound pictures to visitors — a powerful tool. ‘I love to see the babies,’ she says.” We read

The TV on the wall stays off while Lucas brings up pictures, moving the wand. When she’s ready, the screen comes to life.

There’s the heartbeat pulsing fast in silent waves. There’s the fetus flickering. Sometimes, fathers-to-be cry and collapse. Women, too.

“Because they see a baby,” Lucas says.

This is why the Abortion Industry fights tooth and nail to stop requirements that abortion clinics at least make the option of looking at an ultrasound available to abortion-minded women.

There is much, much more in McNeill’s story. If you want an inside look at how pregnancy help centers lovingly assist women, you probably couldn’t do better. I would encourage you to read it.

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at twitter.com/daveha. Send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.

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