I am clearly not as thrilled as some others I have read in the blogosphere with the cover story on crisis pregnancy centers in the February issue of Time magazine. Although my displeasure for the article works on multiple levels, I will focus on one item for this post. Deborah Wood, the CEO of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services in Asheville, NC, makes an observation that I take exception to in the following excerpt from the article:
She tells her counselors to tread gently. You don’t need to lie or bully, she says - just listen and love: “We understand completely that this is her decision.” The waiting room is not full of baby pictures, she notes, and the counseling room is no place for political debates. “We don’t want a zealot in there,” she says. “We want someone who’s going in there with a heart and compassion who’ll talk reasonably and present options.” And, she adds, she would never show graphic pictures or movies like the Silent Scream, the landmark 1984 video that presents an abortion being performed in which the fetus is portrayed as crying in pain. The women who come through her door, Wood says, “are traumatized enough already. Why would we do that? We’re trying to be caretakers. I know how I’d respond if somebody did this in-your-face thing to me. I’d pull back. It’s ineffective...so why do it?” (Page 27 & 28)
There are so many things to sort through here. I do not want to react from offense at what she seems to be implying or what I most definitely infer from this excerpt, so let us focus on the last statement. It’s ineffective? Graphic images are ineffective at changing the minds of women considering abortion as a live option?
That sounds an awful lot like a truth claim. The problem is that she offers absolutely no evidence or supportive arguments for her claim. She says that she does not think that she personally would react well if that method of counseling was used on her. From her preference statement she deduces that it is universally ineffective?
Well, I work in a crisis pregnancy center that enjoys fantastic success in turning women who are abortion vulnerable back from that decision with love, mercy, reason, and if necessary graphic images. Our leadership has set standards and practices that assure that these images are used in the proper manner, but they are used. My first day of work Lori Parker, our Executive Director, was explaining the controversy around graphic images and our continued use of them. I asked one question. Do women decide to not get abortions after seeing the images? Does it work? The answer is yes. It has saved lives. We use them rarely, but when we use them we see results where every other avenue of counseling failed. Certainly not every woman who has seen the graphic videos and images has changed their mind and committed to carrying their child to term. But how many babies have to be saved for it to be worth their use as a tool when all else has failed? Maybe one.
So I challenge Deborah to produce evidence to contradict what we experience everyday. If you personally find the images distasteful to use then be clear that it is a preference. When you say they are ineffective, you had better be ready to support that claim.