Siobhan O'Connor looks at the pro-life movement's new plan for family planning.
It's 7:47 on a Saturday morning in the Bronx, and a 32-foot-long RV, plush considering the surroundings, is taking up almost three full parking spots near the corner of Southern Boulevard on East 149th Street. Inside, the floors are carpeted, there's a comfortable couch, a microwave, a dishwasher, a mini-stove. There's a box of half-eaten Entenmann's danish on the counter, and a flat screen computer monitor on the table. It would almost look like a tour bus, were it not for the ultrasound machine in the back.A few yards up the street is an abortion clinic-though you'd likely miss it if you didn't know to look. There is a man in a security vest by the clinic's front door; next to him stands a woman who later identifies herself as Mary, with a half-dozen plastic rosaries dangling from her wrist and a fistful of pink pamphlets. With wild eyes, she watches oncoming foot traffic, approaching every young woman and couple she sees, bar none.A tough-looking girl with a bold gait-hair wrapped in a do-rag and legs poured into low-cut jeans-veers when Mary jumps into step with her. Nearby, a small group has convened in what appears to be a prayer for the unborn. Mary hands the young woman a few of her brochures; without stopping, the young woman sashays right past her-not inside the clinic, but down the block. It's impossible not to wonder if she rounded the corner and went in through the facility's back door. One can only guess.Consider this a very literal iteration of a battle that's going on in state legislatures across the country; in Congress and the Supreme Court; in medical clinics and the nearby pro-life centers that look just like them. This roving RV, one of roughly 3,400 pro-life counseling outposts nationwide known as crisis pregnancy centers, is evidence of a tactical shift in the anti-abortion movement-the idea being: Take the "choose life" message, dress it up to look medical (ideally with an ultrasound machine), and, in this case, take it on the road. Many of the centers offer free pregnancy tests, baby clothes and diapers, adoption referral, and parenting classes. What they don't offer is pregnancy prevention other than abstinence, abortion referral, or-in most cases-access to medical professionals. Since half the pregnancies in the country are unintended, critics say it's dangerous to be funding centers that don't offer complete family-planning options in addition to counseling.
|\nThis pamphlet advocates abstinence as the only medically-safe contraceptive option.\n|
|Soon everyone will have to look at ultrasounds of a fetus they don't want because they won't be able to find a family-planning clinic.|
|\nIntimidating text from a crisis pregnancy center's flyer.\n|
|\nA pamphlet that erroneously links abortion and breast cancer.\n|