Dear Slate.com, If You Want to Make Pregnancy Help Centers Illegal, Let’s at Least Start with the TruthBy Kirk Walden
Editor’s note. This first appeared in Pregnancy Help News.
On Wednesday, Meaghan Winter, writing at Slate.com, asks, “Why are crisis pregnancy centers not illegal?” Underneath the headline, we read, “They peddle false and misleading information. But putting them out of business is tougher than it may seem.”
Ms. Winter, readers may remember, wrote a piece for Cosmopolitan on Heartbeat International’s 2014 conference (she seems quite interested in our work).
At one level, I’m not concerned with Ms. Winter’s interest in shutting down our centers. She has an opinion. She’s allowed her views. And her earlier piece in Cosmo wasn’t hateful; while I saw some mis-perceptions and some bias, I also saw someone with more than a passing interest in seeing another point of view. (Full disclosure: I was quoted in the Cosmopolitan article. While I had a slight issue with context, she was accurate.)
In this Slate article, Ms. Winter outlines three possible avenues for making pregnancy help centers (PHCs) illegal: Proving consumer fraud (misleading advertising), claiming that centers taking government funding are violating the separation of church and state, or proving that centers are committing medical malpractice (practicing medicine without a license).
Ms. Winter notes each avenue is difficult, for various reasons, all of which ignore the obvious: Pregnancy Help Centers aren’t committing consumer fraud, aren’t violating the Constitution (not that the “separation of church and state” idea is even in the Constitution), and our medical clinics are quite adept at providing top-flight health care.
If Ms. Winter thinks PHCs should be illegal, she can have at it. She must overcome one small challenge however. PHCs don’t have issues with the law. It is abortion centers, such as this one in Gary, IN, which continue to have problems meeting even minimal legal and health standards.
My issue with Ms. Winter’s Slate article then, is not her intentions. My problem is that in these types of pieces, opinion is treated as fact and a vague accusation is seen as evidence.
This type of reporting is a microcosm of big abortion’s attack on PHCs. Take for instance, NARAL’s vicious report on PHCs in Connecticut. In the report, total reliance is placed on opinions provided by NARAL “investigators.” So we are supposed to trust the views expressed by those bought and paid for by an organization committed to closing the doors of PHCs?
Forgive me for being skeptical of their findings.
Ms. Winter provides a perfect example of this technique in her article. She points to a 2006 “damning report” from Congress, no less, which claimed PHCs mislead patients and clients. A low-information reader would conclude from Winter’s article then, that PHCs lie and cheat in order to get our point across.
What Winter fails to note is that the report is a minority report, commissioned by the left-wing, abortion-promoting Henry Waxman (D-CA). In essence, one man with a title (U.S. Representative) wanted to shred pregnancy help centers. He used taxpayer funds and government employees to do so.
In the end, the “report” was only the opinion of Rep. Waxman and his staff. Any House member with an ax to grind can create a “report” on any subject. We read nothing of this in Winter’s article. To leave out this information is indeed, “false and misleading.”
As long as we are on the subject of misleading, inside the article, Winter writes of “An Ohio woman who mistook a CPC for an abortion provider, delaying her abortion by weeks . . . .”
Whoa. Really? An abortion delayed for weeks by the actions of a pregnancy help center? This is exactly what the reader is supposed to believe.
To make an accusation like this one, a reporter must, absolutely must, ask enough questions to provide readers with the “Who, what, where, when and why” of the claim. Those five questions are drilled into students at any reputable school of journalism. I graduated from one of those schools. This is essential in reporting.
If the accusation in this article were true, all of us in pregnancy help ministry want to know where the center is, who said what, who trained who and whether this center is affiliated with any national network. All of us who support life choices will affirm that truth, not misrepresentation, must lead the way.
Instead of answering any of these burning questions however, the article claims, without explanation or proof, the center committed “consumer fraud.” The supposed victim only says, “No one wants people to know they’ve been to a pregnancy help center.”
That’s it? She won’t even tell Ms. Winter what happened at the center? The client in question supposedly “mistook a CPC for an abortion center.” Because there is no pertinent information, the reader has no way of knowing whether the client entered the PHC through misleading advertising or through her own mistake.
If Ms. Winter wants to blame the PHC, please give us facts. Show us the advertising. Point us to the web site.
As for delaying an abortion for weeks, again we have an implication that this is somehow the fault of the center. If so, give us the client advocate’s name, the executive director’s name and tell me exactly what they did outside of the law which caused a woman who walked in their door to delay an abortion for weeks.
Show us the person who blocked our anonymous client’s exit from the center. Give us the details of coercion. If this is a true story, don’t leave us wondering.
Frankly, I don’t believe a word of it. Ms. Winter might, but I don’t.
But this is the modus operandi of a smear campaign. It’s easy to write, most readers never notice what they are not reading, and those who agree with the writer shout, “We got ‘em!”
Yet the truth is lost.
It may seem so, but I’m not berating Ms. Winter here. This is objective criticism, and I freely admit my bias toward Pregnancy Help Centers. I’ve been in hundreds of PHCs, and these are good people. Good, good people, just trying to do the right thing and help those who are hurting.
I’m just pointing out that if we are ever to have a true dialogue on PHCs, it must start with the truth. And based on Ms. Winter’s Cosmopolitan article, I believe she would be open to knowing the truth about how we operate and the motivations behind all of our work.
So Ms. Winter, drop me a line. Let’s talk. Let’s get all of the facts out there. I think you’ll find we have something special going on in PHCs in this country and around the world, and we welcome the truth—all of it.
Source: NRLC News