While Cutting Family Planning Funds, Texas Lawmakers Divert Millions To Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Published: November 13, 2013
When Monica Gonzales* stepped into a center advertised as a helpful resource for navigating an unplanned pregnancy, she was handed a Bible.
As a 19-year-old undergraduate college student with ambitious career goals, Gonzales knew she wasn’t ready to be a mother. So when her pregnancy test came back positive, Gonzales felt alone, isolated, scared. She confided in a friend, who referred her to the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life Pregnancy Center in Bryan, TX. Gonzales hoped the center would provide her with some clarity.
Instead, says Gonzales, they brokeher trust.
Determined to make the right choice for her future, she explained her situation to two counselors who seemed eager to persuade the vulnerable teenager to carry her pregnancy to term, no matter what. Gonzales was told if she underwent an abortion she would likely get cancer and that having children in the future would be very difficult. She was told it wasn’t right to choose abortion—you’re not thinking about this clearly, they said, you need to wait. Gonzales was then given a Bible and told her religion should and would play a major part in her decision.
“I felt frustrated. It’s like they weren’t listening to me at all,” she recalled later in an interview with the Current.
“They gave me false information, they didn’t respect my opinion of what I wanted to do, they didn’t think I had the self-determination to make this choice for myself,” said Gonzales. When she told the counselors she was considering abortion, “They really tried to appeal to me emotionally, religiously, with anything they could to convince me that I was making the wrong decision”
The pressure didn’t stop there. For weeks after the visit, the counselors called nearly every day and left phone messages with Gonzales. They even showed up at her dorm at Texas A&M, brochures and Bible in hand. Gonzales says she faced borderline harassment.
“[The counselor] wanted to know if I was still going to have an abortion, I told her that I didn’t want to talk to her. I asked her to leave, and I told her to never come back. I told her that I made my decision,” she said.
Days later, she was still finding pamphlets and fliers underneath her door.
To varying degrees, scenes like this one play out all across Texas. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) attract pregnant women with promises of non-judgmental counseling, free pregnancy testing and maternity assistance like baby clothing and food. While some may offer limited ultrasound, most CPCs fail to deliver any reproductive health services, like birth control, pap smears or STD testing. Counselors like the ones Gonzales interacted with aren’t required to have state licensing and the centers themselves don’t fall under the direct purview of a state regulatory agency, which is problematic as some CPCs also have a record of contract violations.
*Pseudonym used to protect anonymity
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