How Working at a Crisis Pregnancy Center Changed My Views on Women’s Health
By Kacey Ingram
72 days. That is how long I stayed at my first job as an education and resources coordinator with a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in a small town in Texas. I had just moved to Texas after completing my Masters in Public Health and getting engaged, and felt it best to find something a little bit closer to my fiancé. I did some google searches for jobs with my interest leaning more towards women’s health and women’s clinics. I came upon a pregnancy resource center and decided to email them to see if they had job openings. After a couple of weeks, I was invited to interview with them and received the job. This was in the exact arena I was interested in, or so I thought.
During the interview process, the Director of Client Services informed me that this was a pro-life, faith-based organization, meaning they encouraged parenting and adoption, and although they did not refer or provide abortions “had plenty of information in regard to abortion and some of the dangers.” Wanting to work with women’s health, I specifically stated in the interview that education was my top priority, and that every woman had the right to resources in order to make the best-informed decision for herself. I soon ate those words faster than I spoke them.
After being with the organization for a few weeks, I quickly began to realize that this center was far from what I expected in terms of true education. We were seeing young women come in for pregnancy tests who had been in before, and instead of providing comprehensive sex education, they were simply proposed abstinence and the idea that if they weren’t married, having sex should not be an option at all. As a public health professional, I was torn working in this environment, because every woman has the right to make a well-informed decision based on true, factual information. That information also needed to come from someone who was well informed themselves, and this center, like many others, had dropped the ball on doing so.
After leaving the center, I dove deeper into crisis pregnancy centers, and their true concepts and ideals. They do not offer comprehensive sex education (abstinence only), do not refer or provide for abortions, and push the logic that keeping a child will reap far more benefits in the eyes of the woman and the eyes of God. As important as that may be, a woman should still be able to be properly educated on information in regard to abortion, birth control, contraceptives, and her true options. Information should not be skewed based on the clinic and ideals during her visit. This completely contradicts the overall standpoint of quality of life and autonomy of persons in public health.
There are over 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers and they are found predominantly in low-income and minority communities, which widely affects Black and Latina women. Knowing this information and my drive for reproductive justice and justice within the minority women’s health community, I could no longer stay in employment with this center. New information on crisis pregnancy centers demonstrates that they are a threat to true public health and the health of women. For instance, outside of the nurse, I was the only one employed with a public health or a health degree, and some of the higher ups had no degree at all. As minute as this seems, this is important when you are speaking to hundreds of women a month and are unaware of the importance of behavioral impacts on health outcomes. Abstinence only education has been proven to be least effective with STI rates and pregnancy outcomes, and when a woman has already engaged in sexual intercourse, she now moves into high risk for contracting disease. The shift should be towards preventive methods to keep her from contracting a disease or unwanted pregnancy. Without this knowledge, true harm can be done in these communities, and increase many preventable risks.
With new information constantly being introduced in regards to crisis pregnancy centers, it is important to understand that while there are true comprehensive clinics, there are ones that push an agenda contradictory to women’s health. Some websites online give an overview of CPCs, as well as the ones in your area so that you know these places are not clinics (although they highly resemble them), and places where you can go for comprehensive women’s care. It is important to not only know of CPCs in your area, but to ensure that you, and those around you, are receiving the best care possible.
Kacey Ingram, MPH is an education coordinator at a pregnancy resource center in Texas. She recently graduated with her Masters degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and received a Bachelors of Science in Health Promotion and Behavior at the University of Georgia. Her passion and purpose is to serve others to the best of her ability and in doing so allows her to give back to the kingdom of God! She is excited to be a part of this platform that allows her to share some of the knowledge she’s learned along the way! You can follow her on Twitter @kaceye_ .