Last year, reporter Meaghan Winter attended a meeting of the anti-abortion Heartbeat International conference, and she’s written about her experience in Cosmopolitan.
To nobody’s surprise, the conference was full of misinformation everywhere. And the attendees were encouraged to mislead women who were seeking abortions:
Throughout the conference, I asked at least a dozen pregnancy center staff if seeing so many unplanned pregnancies ever tempted them to suggest birth control pills or IUDs. Again and again, they mentioned claims, which have been debunked, that abortion sterilizes and birth control pills cause cancer. “All those chemicals can be dangerous,” one staff person told me, and she seemed to believe it.
“They’re going to Google ‘abortion,’ or they’re going to Google ‘abortion services’ or ‘pregnancy help,’ and that’s why we want to focus on our websites,” said Lauren Chenoweth, Heartbeat’s media specialist at the time. Later she said, “We want to be strategic in getting them to our centers.”
In her session, “Do I Really Need Two Sites?” Chenoweth explained that, yes, in fact, pregnancy centers do. She recommended that centers operate one that describes an anti-abortion mission to secure donors and another that lists medical information to attract women seeking contraception, counseling, or abortion. An audience member offered that her center swapped out an anti-abortion-seeming name for Pregnancy Options. “That is an excellent point,” Chenoweth replied. “Use a more attractive name to someone who is seeking services.”
And, of course, preventing an abortion is just Step 1.
Step 2 is bringing them to Jesus… because those two things go hand in hand:
Another oft-repeated catchphrase was, “Save the mother, save the baby,” shorthand for many pregnancy center workers’ belief that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to convert women. In keeping with Evangelicalism’s central tenets, many pregnancy center staff believe that those living “without Christ” — including Christians having premarital sex — must accept Christ to be born again, redeem their sins, and escape spiritual pain. Carrying a pregnancy to term “redeems” a “broken” woman, multiple staff people told me.
It’s just unbelievable how these methods don’t even seem surprising to the attendees.
If they can’t persuade women to avoid obtaining abortions through secular, science-based reasoning, they’re basically admitting they have no argument. They have to fool women instead. They have to resort to faith-based nonsense. They have to go for the emotional appeal because they know being honest would destroy all their talking points.
Read the full piece here.