The Reproductive Care Crisis: My Experience with CPCs

Conner Sokolovic, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Intern and East Carolina University Senior 

It was a sunny morning in Greenville, NC, the home of East Carolina University. After a brief drive, I parked in the back lot and walked around the side of the building, concealed for the most part from the main street. “Carolina Pregnancy Center” was lettered on the door. I walked into the small, vacant lobby and took a moment to look at the numerous brochures they had available. The brochures ranged from vague and general information about the center to advertisements for maternity houses (pro-life, religious compounds for pregnant women to stay at during pregnancy), and adoption agencies. None of the brochures provided information for abortion providers or services. Upon closer inspection it was apparent that every brochure was heavily laden with religious (Christian) references and overtones, foreshadowing an agenda that has less to do with helping women and more with promoting ideology.

Eventually, the receptionist came out of a back room, and I began giving her the story – which I rehearsed in my head during the car ride there – about a close friend who was pregnant and wanted information regarding her options. She responded, in what seemed to be a speech more overtly rehearsed than my own, by insisting my “friend” set up an appointment to undergo an ultrasound as soon as possible. When I asked if there was any information that I could bring to my friend, she told me that they did not keep their pregnancy options information in the public waiting room (red flag, anyone?). However, after a little more talking, I convinced her to go into the back area to try get me more information. I like to indulge myself in imagining that this success was due to my charm and charisma, but it is much more likely she was simply new. I heard some muffled talking in the back, and when she emerged, she informed me that the information would be available when my “friend” came in for her appointment. Then, she steered our conversation in the direction of the door. I don’t know about you, but when I think about organizations that claim to help women, I don’t think “clandestine” should be the first word to come to mind.

Carolina Pregnancy Center is one of many so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). They grossly outnumber abortion providers nationally, especially now in the wake of recently passed restrictive legislation. In North Carolina alone, CPCs outnumber abortion providers 8 to 1, and they position themselves in close proximity to universities. In short, CPCs are designed to attract young women looking to evaluate their options regarding pregnancy, and use any means necessary to convince them not to have an abortion. These centers are fueled by religious dogma, and funded by religious organizations. . . and your tax dollars! In the 2013-2015 North Carolina budget, lawmakers allocated $250,000 of YOUR taxpayer dollars to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an umbrella organization that supports more than half of North Carolina’s CPCs. Some states have adopted measures that require these centers to clearly identify that they are not a medical clinic and to not flat out lie. CPCs will shamelessly look someone in the eye and tell them that abortions are linked to cancer. That is one of the many documented completely ridiculous lies that an overwhelming majority of these centers tell.

At East Carolina University, the Crisis Pregnancy Center is located closer to some of the dorms than the actual Student Health Center. It has an extremely well made (and well paid-for) website, and still comes up close to the top of any search engine results that use “pregnancy” and related terms. I grew up in Greenville, and I used to attend church in my middle school and early high school years. I remember the church provided opportunities every summer to volunteer at the Carolina Pregnancy Center. It’s unsettling that these facilities are so inextricably tied to churches. It scares me that, should someone seek advice from a person in their church community regarding a pregnancy, they will likely be referred to avatar_1a70cdc5c2df_512a CPC.

At NC State University, where my younger sister will begin her first year this fall, there are even brochures for a CPC, located just blocks away, mixed in with factual information and referrals to actual medical facilities. I am not only worried about her, but about all of the potentially affected college students.

What we need to do, since we now know the full scope and scale of our problem, is address it whenever possible. Inform your friends about CPCs, and check your university’s website and student health centers for any information that would serve as a referral to a CPC. Then, take action to get it removed! After all, this is ultimately a battle of education.

Celebrating Pro-Choice Champ, Representative Alma Adams

United States Representative Alma Adams, North Carolina 12th Congressional District

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NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina would like to take a moment to recognize and thank Representative Alma Adams for speaking out against H.R. 36. Officially known as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act”, Representative Adams called it as it is, deeming it the “Painful and Oppressive to Women Act”.

Additionally, upon taking the floor in the House, Rep. Adams provided a voice of reason, stating that “H.R. 36 poses grave dangers to women and the American people will not be fooled. Women’s health and personal decisions should be between a woman, her family, and her doctor, not a male-dominated congress. Most abortions take place before 21 weeks, so many women who have abortions later in pregnancy do so because of medical complications and other barriers to access. H.R. 36 would harm women in need and increase obstacles to obtaining safe and legal abortions.”

See her complete floor speech here:

Thank you Rep. Adams for speaking up for women’s rights!

Health policies should be determined by medical experts, NOT politicians. Women must be trusted with their own bodies. As Representative Adams remarked, “Women’s personal health decisions are just that, personal!” Representative Adams we are proud to call you a North Carolinian and honored to name you a pro-choice champ!

North Carolina Catholic for Choice Speaks Out Against #HB465

Sarah J. Bucher, a Catholic for Choice from Raleigh, North Carolina 

cfcavatarAs a pro-choice Catholic, I feel the need to speak out against North Carolina House Bill 465, which triples the existing mandatory abortion waiting period. When policymakers create obstacles in reproductive healthcare, they fail to respect an individual’s moral decision making, and they place additional burdens on vulnerable women. I expect elected officials to speak up for the rights of every individual and to advocate for those who will suffer most if this legislation is allowed to pass. Women in North Carolina deserve no less.

To learn more about HB 465, read this Op-Ed by Dr. David Grimes and Dr. Amy Bryant.  

Veto #HB465! The People of North Carolina Deserve Better!

Lela Johnston, a Recent Alumna of NC State University and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Intern 

So we’re all clear, during a 2012 debate, our Governor Pat McCrory was asked, “If you’re elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?”. His one-word response? “None.”

Today, I speak to you as a native North Carolinian, as a graduate of Wake County Public School Systems, as a very recent alumna of North Carolina State University, as a former intern with NARAL North Carolina, as a woman, and as a human being, to ask Governor McCrory to keep that promise. HB 465 is bad medicine and bad politics. State-mandated waiting periods are medically unnecessary, intrusive, and demeaning.

The decision how and when to start a family should be my choice and my choice alone. Reproductive decisions extend far beyond the doctor’s office. A woman’s right to control her reproductive health is the most basic and critical element of her autonomy. Without this fundamental human right, my independence is threatened, and ultimately, political, economic, and social gender equality is still just a distant possibility.IMG_3335

And not only that, aren’t there more important issues our legislature should be focusing on? Expanding Medicaid, closing the wage gap, updating our transportation systems, raising the minimum wage, cleaning up the Dan River, improving our public schools, paying our teachers salaries they deserve, and ensuring that all those who wish to go to college can afford to do so, is just the short list. The people of North Carolina deserve better. I deserve better. I deserve to live in a state that allows me to make my own healthcare choices, free from coercion and intrusive regulation.

I may not have had a vote in HB 465, but I do have a voice. And, I’m here today to use that voice to urge our Governor to veto this harmful bill. Please keep your promise, Governor McCrory.  

#HB465 is Bad Medicine and Bad Politics

“Keep Your Promise, McCrory” tour stop in Fayetteville: Speech by Raven Deas, NC State University Senior and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Intern 

I am a Fayetteville native, a North Carolina State University student, and for the past few months, an intern at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. At NARAL NC, we work every day to protect and advance the reproductive rights of North Carolinian women and families. Today, I am back in my hometown, as a concerned citizen. I’m worried that Governor McCrory doesn’t take his campaign promise seriously. As we all know, in 2012 Governor McCrory assured North Carolina voters that he would not allow any restrictions on abortion to become law once he was in office. Government-mandated waiting periods have no medical basis and are politically motivated.

Being raised in a military town, I grew up valuing bravery, respect, and of course freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of choice. Attending NC State has further instilled these values for me, but I have also learned so many new things. I’ve learned that I can’t stay silent on things that matter. I’ve learned that prohibiting doctors from learning how to perform abortions doesn’t improve patients safety. So, here’s me not staying silent and saying with conviction that abortion restrictions like state-mandated waiting periods are the wrong priority for my community. We have real problems facing our community that elected officials should be focusing on instead of restricting abortion access. We need our state legislators addressing issues like extending health care coverage to half a million North Carolinians by closing the Medicaid gap or improving our public education and university system.IMG_3308-1

House Bill 465 is bad medicine and bad politics that unnecessarily interferes with a woman’s ability to make the best health care decisions for herself and her family. I urge Governor McCrory to keep his campaign promise and not allow this harmful bill to become law. North Carolina is heading in the wrong direction restricting women’s access to health care, especially when there are pressing issues our state leaders should be focusing on instead. Thank you.

Raven will be joining NARAL Pro-Choice NC for the final rally of the “Keep Your Promise, McCrory” tour in Raleigh.