Wednesday, January 27, 2010


There's a bill before the Washington State Senate right now to regulate "crisis pregnancy centers." (News link. That should be "chord," dammit.)

SB 6452 would require centers to:
-Provide reproductive health information that is "medically and scientifically accurate."
-Communicate immediately that they do not provide medical care for pregnant women, abortion or comprehensive birth control services or referrals for such services.
-Allow clients to self-administer pregnancy tests and provide test results in writing to clients as soon as they are known.
-Keep all health information private, unless otherwise authorized, and make a client's records available to her promptly, but no later than 15 working days after receiving a request.

It amazes me that anyone could have any reaction other than "holy shit, they aren't doing these things now?!" Because it's not shutting the centers down. It's just making them operate in a sort of remotely honest manner. The stipulations about self-administered pregnancy tests and results in writing--that's because there have been cases where CPCs have told women they weren't pregnant when they were, so they'd be too far along to abort when they realized they'd been duped. And the others are just basic, bottom-of-the-barrel expectations for anything resembling a healthcare facility.

The problem, of course, is that no one's reading or voting on the content of the bill; it's just yet another referendum on "would you rather kill babies or oppress women?", and senators are most likely going to vote along those lines rather than the very modest stipulations actually made. I've gotta admit, the wording is crafty though; do you really want to be seen opposing accurate information?

Despite the assumptions people tend to make of Seattle sex/feminism bloggers, I'm not 100% pro-choice. I'm mostly, I think abortion needs to be legal, but it actually makes me very uncomfortable. I have no sympathy for zygotes and embryos, but once they start getting to the cute phase (i.e., the having a nervous system phase) I'm... undecided. I can understand why it might be necessary but I don't like it. I believe most abortions are performed before the really cute phase though, which I'm more comfortable with. It's not potential that bothers me, I think arguments about potential are specious because obviously not every potential human can exist. I'm only concerned about the fetus's capability for awareness and suffering--which I believe is not much during the first trimester.

But I am absolutely 100% definitely convinced that the people who run crisis pregnancy centers are worthless sacks of shit. These centers seem to have no problem lying to and manipulating women. Never mind abortion, they're telling women not to use condoms. That's fucking insane. Condoms not only save lives, they prevent abortions! I hate to ascribe "they must just be evil" to political opponents, I can see some justification for trying to discourage abortion, but telling sexually active adults not to use condoms is fucking evil. And trying to persuade someone not to have an abortion is one thing (and still problematic if you're advertising as a medical or social services center), but tricking them into it... worthless sack of shit.

I assume this bill will pass. I mean, I really hope so. It seems awfully modest to just request that the sacks of shit restrict themselves to only pressuring and browbeating (mostly young and poor) women, instead of outright lying to them.

I'm almost curious enough now to make a field trip to a CPC just to see what happens. Of course I'd test not pregnant (boy, wouldn't that be a hell of a way to find out), but I wonder if they'd get on the condom thing with me and what they'd say. Might be educational.


  1. I don't know anything significant about crisis pregnancy centers. I do know that a common tactic for legislators is to add in near-duplicates of super-obvious rules that are already in place, so they can tell the press that the opposition opposes Redundant Super-Obvious Article 1 instead of Obscure Invidious Subparagraph 235.A. An example would be the Clinton Omnibus Crime Bill ban on grenade launchers.

    Seems to me the best regulation consistent with free speech would be similar to regulation of medical practice, which allows crystal-mongers, homeopathic water vendors, and reiki healers to continue, but not on the same level as medical doctors.

  2. Mousie00 - I read the actual bill, there's nothing shocking hiding.

    Frankly I'm not too happy with those people being exempt from medical accuracy either. People who take the wacky ones too seriously and get real diseases tend to die horribly. I'm a pretty big free speech nut, but I don't think free speech protects false advertising and medical negligence.

  3. As a philosophically motivated anarchist, I've argued every side of the abortion debate I can think of. (There's a lot of sides to it, really.)

    I can understand why people are opposed to abortions. I can think of a number of good reasons for it. But the vast vocal majority of the anti-abortion crowd also comes from a religious background, and specifically a religious background that has... issues with human sexual practice. I can strongly respect being anti-abortion because one truly believes that abortion is murder. But there seems to be a strong undercurrent to the anti-abortion movement that seems bent on forcing women to "take responsibility" for the 'crime' of simply having sex. Since I presume that most theologies rate "extramarital sex" as a lower class sin than "murder", when these groups do anything to discourage practices which would lower the abortion rate, simply because it could also be seen as not providing adequate discouragement to women to not have sex, they've really really lost their path, IMO.

    Holy crap that's rambly. I need to stop commenting here while the morning caffeine is still percolating through my CNS. ;)

  4. Perlhaqr - Yeah. I have some sympathy for people who take underhanded anti-abortion tactics because "anything to save a life," but I've also heard a lot of rhetoric about "well, when you're irresponsible you need to have consequences," and that's creepy as fuck.

  5. I would love to hear about such a field trip. :)

    I personally am squigged out by abortion, for kind of the same reasons I'm a vegetarian. But I don't think my discomfort gives me any right to tell anyone what they can or can not do with their OWN body, and I don't like the slippery slope antiabortion measures can logically take. (If a woman can't get an abortion after x number of weeks because it's morally wrong, does that mean she also has the legal obligation to exercise, only eat healthy organic foods, and avoid riding in a car because of the risk of accident? I'm not okay with that.)

  6. If I were developing CPC talking points, I'd say something like "we don't have the necessary resources to train our staff to comply with this bill, so we would have to shut down." I'd leave out that it's completely bullshit and that the "retraining" means having them tell the truth, of course.

  7. You definitely, definitely should take a field trip to a CPC. I did it last year and man was it eye opening. They had me pee in a cup and then apparently they dipped a regular OTC pregnancy test into the cup. I know this because the "counselor" came into the room with it clipped to her clipboard... Then she tried to convince me that I should get a second virginity and that I didn't need to worry about my period being a month late. She said I should come in again in a few months if it hadn't shown up by then and that I shouldn't have sex until then "just to make sure." (She never really clarified what it would make sure - that I wasn't pregnant? That my uterus didn't have some massive medical issue? That I'd waited to long to abort if I did get pregnant?) Oh, and my story was that I'd had random drunk sex and clearly the condom broke or there wasn't one because I wouldn't be worried otherwise (she never asked). I asked about STDs because that's something people should worry about if they have random unprotected sex. She gave me pamphlets citing studies from the '70s and prayed for me instead of offering STD testing, even though the sign out front says they do it. (I'm kind of glad, actually - untrained volunteers doing STD testing is worrying.) Just UGH.

    Another woman I know went secret shopping at a different CPC. She's a lesbian. She hadn't had sex with a man in 6 months. She filled out the paperwork and took the test and... they told her she was pregnant. She wasn't, so either they're incompetent or they had some bizarre motivation for lying to her like that.

    So, yeah, if you do go in, use a fake name (they never asked for my ID or anything) and bring a partner. They can pose as a friend or boyfriend and ask any questions you forget to ask. It can also add a really interesting dynamic to the "counseling" if, say, you want to keep it if you are pregnant and the boyfriend doesn't or vice versa (they always talk to you for a bit before they give you the results). Oh, and don't worry if you're a bad actor. I screwed some things up on my form, scribbled them out, and the secretary was just like, "Oh, don't worry about it, honey! I'm sure you're just nervous. You'll be fine."

  8. This is really upsetting stuff people are reporting. Like I said I know little about crisis pregnancy centers. I'm a Christian who thinks that a growing organism which eats & respires (through the placenta) and has a complete set of human DNA different than either parent meets any ordinary biological criteria for being human and alive, so I wish there were no abortions except in "trade one life for another" circumstances. But I also oppose a campaign of lies and deception; that can't be the Lord's work. I think we Christians need to ramp up the sermons on truth.

  9. Ooh! Ooh! I'll totally go with you, Holly, if you want to go. I could pretend to be your dad. Or, worse, your "daddy" just to see how that would go over.

    Let me know.


  10. Mangoesandlimes - Wow, those are some disturbing stories. I'm particularly baffled by telling the lesbian she was pregnant--she's going to find out that's not true eventually, right? Unless there's some weird idea that a "miscarriage" would shake her up? Maybe it was just incompetence.

    Mousie00 - In a way, I can sort of understand it, because I'd lie to keep an adult from being murdered--I'd tell huge lies and feel no guilt if I was sheltering an innocent person from Nazis or whatnot. But I honestly don't think it's equivalent, I believe awareness rather than DNA is the determinant of life and awareness doesn't begin until the brain gets to a certain point in development. And either way there's no excuse for telling people not to use condoms. That saves no babies.

    Figleaf - Sounds good. Check your email.

  11. Holly, I don't think awareness is a necessary condition, because there are so many ways it can be temporarily absent. Could a totalitarian regime purge population without murdering anyone by inducing a coma in undesireables then 'aborting' them?

  12. Mousie00 - I think that's a silly comparison, because the totalitarian regime is taking away their awareness, even if it's doing it separately from the actual killing. (I'd argue, in fact, that coma-tizing someone against their will is the real crime, and the killing just makes it permanent.) A better comparison would be euthanizing someone in a persistent vegetative state--which doesn't bother me if the condition is truly permanent, since awareness is not being taken away.

    I'm guessing you and I won't be able to see eye-to-eye on this as my approach to philosophy is a bit scattershot and decidedly not Christian, but I don't value physical life much at all--I value consciousness. Killing someone who has never been conscious, or someone who will never be conscious again, seem equally morally acceptable to me; it's only the snuffing out of a mind that horrifies me.