by Kelli Early, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at UNC Asheville
One phrase that I use to guide my activism is “The best revolutions aren’t based in the hate of the oppressors, but the love of the people.” I kept that phrase in mind during October as a Campus Leader for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and while working with another student group, Planned Parenthood Next Generation, as we focused on identifying the actors working against full reproductive freedom in North Carolina. This goal come to life through an avid petitioning campaign, canvassing, and direct action during the #ExposeFakeClinics week of action. The month started with a campaign to educate and empower students to oppose the 20-week abortion ban. While we gathered over 40 signatures and had multiple students join our student organization, there was push-back by conservative members of our community. But the only thing these anti-abortion students and community members accomplished by yelling “murder” and other unoriginal slurs at my fellow organization members was we came together even more and gathered over 45 letters to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis telling them not to co-sponsor the 20 week abortion ban because of its illogical, anti-choice ideological nature.
This negativity continued to fuel our passion for advocacy, and the following weekend multiple students from our group went canvassing with Planned Parenthood of Asheville. The canvass took place in different public housing communities to engage residents about questions they have about Planned Parenthood, in the hopes of breaking stigma around abortion providers and raise awareness of all of the services Planned Parenthood offers (the majority of which are not abortion). While I would have liked there to be more conversation around the power dynamics of mostly white college students canvassing a low-income neighborhood, I was excited to see conversations were stigma was broken around our local clinic.
Lastly, the #ExposeFakeClinics week consisted of a teach-in about fake Crisis Pregnancy Centers, where I invited my PP organization and leaders among other student organization to learn the basics about fake CPCs. In the teach-in, the group discovered Bethany Christian Services, which utilizes classic fake clinic CPC tactics to deceive young, low-income people. For example, one example of this is that they provide “abortion counseling” to “help individuals reconcile their choice of abortion.” All that this fake “counseling” does is further the idea that abortion is shameful and regrettable–instead of a private choice that should be made between the person who wants the abortion and their medical provider. On top of this highly stigmatizing “service,” their website primarily uses pictures of Women of Color; but, when reading through Bethany Christian Center’s online reviews, it came to light that a Woman of Color received racist remarks about her pregnancy when she went to Bethany Christian Services. Due to all of this, our group decided to hold a direct action outside their office to expose this location as a fake clinic.