I have a quick aside. With a thankful h/t to Hemant Mehta, enjoy an awesome video Samantha Bee and Patton Oswalt just put out about those fake “abortion clinics” that deceive women. I wanted to mention something about it that hit me personally.
It’s definitely worth the watch, and I hope you will.
What this lady, Cherisse Scott, is describing in the video is exactly and precisely my experience with Crisis Pregnancy Centers as a whole. My then-husband Biff volunteered with them for quite some time and talked about it incessantly, but I have an even better reason to know that they are nothing but liars.
Before I received my stunning whap on the nose with reality’s rolled-up newspaper, though, I was totally on board with what he (and his organization) was doing. I, you see, was a fundagelical Christian. I prayed for those women who felt like abortion was their only option, and for my sinful country to make abortion totally illegal again, instead of mostly-illegal and incredibly stigmatized as it was then. I gave money to groups seeking to end abortion as a legal option for women and whose mission statement was to harass and intimidate abortion-seeking women and abortion-providing clinics. I argued hotly about the matter with friends about how enslaving women for almost a year, putting them through hundreds of medical risks and complications, and violating their bodies against their consent was really totally okay because it was only for a short time and for what I considered a good cause.
I hand-waved away or worriedly dismissed the real suffering I heard about as pushback from shocked friends. I tried to rationalize and explain away the stories of young women who died or faced lifelong complications because they had sought illicit abortions. I refused to accept that when abortion is criminalized or hugely stigmatized, those stories and worse ones besides are not a fluke but an inevitability. Abortion rights powerfully correlate to other human rights for men and women both, as the group Human Rights Watch has devastatingly laid out–but I didn’t know that then, and probably wouldn’t have cared because PRECIOUS BABIES and all.
I was, in short, a true-blue forced-birther who genuinely thought I was acting in the best interests of babies and women alike. I was actually a dupe and a pawn of an opportunistic, self-serving, utterly Machiavellian marketing machine that was right then at that moment staging a culture war using the bodies and rights of women as pawns.
The Falling of a Mighty Oak.
One fateful night years ago, when I was already reeling from a number of blows to my beliefs, I ran across Biff’s CPC employee manual. He’d accidentally left it at home that night while he was out “counseling” unwary and unspeakably desperate women (I use scare quotes because he was not a medical or psychological professional; the CPC didn’t care if he had qualifications in either subject, only that he was a fervent right-wing Christian who wanted to deny women agency and self-sovereignty). As I read that manual, I rapidly realized that almost every single thing the CPC said and did was based on dishonesty, pseudoscience, and more than a little misogynistic paternalism. Their position, in other words, depended entirely upon lying to women.
It didn’t seem to me even then that a truly virtuous or moral position needed lies to prop itself up. In fact, that level of dishonesty and deception appeared to be exactly what marked a position that was not virtuous or moral.
I was shocked, upset, and beyond hurt by what I read in that manual–and couldn’t help but remember the disturbing things that Biff had shared that had indicated that his “clinic” wasn’t exactly on the level. Indeed, in the video at the 5:15 mark, Ms. Scott reveals that she decided to keep her baby. She made that decision because the “counselor” there told her about a number of long-term health risks, including future infertility, that she risked by getting an abortion–risks that are nonexistent in reality. The CPC makes up lies like that to frighten women who don’t know better, and it clearly worked this time.
But another reason that Cherisse Scott made the decision to have her baby was a promise of help made by the “counselor,” a promise Biff talked about making many times. But like the women Biff promised on behalf of the CPC to help, Ms. Scott discovered to her dismay that once she’d had her baby, reality didn’t bear out the fake clinic’s promises at all (emphasis in original):
Patton: So what do these pro-life con artists do once they’ve kept their mark knocked up?
Cherisse Scott: They have disappeared without a trace. When it was difficult to get food stamps, when it was difficult to get [the baby’s] father on child support, they weren’t there. . . He deserved to come into a loving situation, not in a situation where I was confused or because of a lie.
I can only imagine that the people who support forced-birther groups like the CPC either don’t realize how much of that platform is built upon lies, or else think it’s okay because it’s “lying for Jesus.” After all, if the forced-birther movement had a mantra, it’d be “Anything For the Greater Good.”The video goes on to tell us that there are easily twice as many fake clinics as there are real abortion providers. Tricking and deceiving women is totally legal–and even great business sense since our government often gives money to these hustlers and conjobs to lie to women and trick them “for the greater good!” Hell, at least one state even requires women seeking abortions to receive the kind of fake counseling that Biff once provided (doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart? Sure does mine!).
The Fallout in My Case.
In my case at least, the CPC’s fearmongering and lies bit them on the ass. They lost me as a supporter because my dedication to honesty and the truth trumped any of the concerns the Christian Right might have ginned up in me about babies or women’s health. Yes, I can thank the Crisis Pregnancy Centers for having a major hand in both my deconversion and my embracing of the pro-choice platform.
If I hadn’t realized just how morally bankrupt and hypocritical the so-called “good guys” were, if I hadn’t realized the true horrifying depths of depravity to which TRUE CHRISTIANS™ could sink, if I hadn’t understood with shocking clarity just what the culture war around abortion was about and why its tactics were so massively out of line with its stated goals, I might still be some form of Christian.
I might never have begun asking questions about why Jesus didn’t seem to be helping anybody be a better person, and why he wasn’t stopping his own followers from lying to and deceiving others so much and so horrifically. I might never have realized just how totally superfluous Christianity was to being a good person, how utterly useless it is as a way to evaluate someone’s moral character and kindness.
I might never have wondered why a god of love, mercy, and justice seemed so singularly disinterested in women’s bodily consent or self-ownership. I might not ever have noticed just how much of my religion centered around who owns whom and can override whose stated “no,” or about how often those overrides happen specifically to women.
Why the Lies?
When we see forced-birthers lying their asses off for Jesus, what we’re really seeing is a group that knows perfectly well that its time of dominance is coming to an end. They want to halt or at least slow down their own impending irrelevance. They know that the surest measure of whether or not someone supports anti-abortion laws is their level of religiosity. And with the decline in religiosity in America, particularly in the next generation, Christians can expect to see an accompanying decline in support for forced-birther ideas.
That lowering of religiosity means their culture war, the one they started specifically to grab for dominance at women’s expense, the culture war they began specifically to gain more people and shore up their power base, is fast being lost.
I can’t imagine they’ll like seeing that decline.
Abusers and controllers never do.
In a way, their frantic campaigning lately for anti-abortion laws can be seen as good news–it means that their coming end is all the closer. “Dogs don’t bark at what don’t move,” to borrow a phrase they liked back in my day! But it means increasing problems for the poor women that fake clinics like the CPC target as marks. We can’t let up. We’ve got to keep pressing the truth home, and to hold these clinics–and their supporters–responsible for the lies told there.
Nothing good needs lies to prop itself up. Nothing moral or virtuous needs deception to sell itself. Nothing divinely loving or just produces this kind of monstrous dishonesty and cruelty. The existence and proliferation of these fake clinics is a serious black mark against Christianity as a religion, but even more than that, it’s a symptom of the disease infecting it.
We’re going to be doing the regular post later today when I’m finished linkifying it, but I had to get this off my chest right now.