The Associated Press’ decision to call pregnancy resource centers “anti-abortion centers” in its style guide is just the latest politically motivated shot at pro-lifers. This one is rhetorical, of course, and language isn’t violence.
But in a culture rife with political violence, the language isn’t irrelevant. The AP, of all entities, should know this.
Since the fall of Roe v. Wade last June, more than 80 pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized, some of them firebombed or torched, others painted over with death threats. If you include churches that have been attacked, that number is well over 200. Never mind the attempt on a Supreme Court justice’s life.
Calling pregnancy centers, many of which have names that are in no way identified with abortion or the politics surrounding it, “anti-abortion,” jeopardizes the vulnerable women that turn to them for help by dragging them into the political spotlight and straight into the line of sight of violent anti-abortion extremists.
But the AP’s mischaracterization of these centers does more than push incendiary language. It’s flat-out biased and unfair – and that would be true coming from anyone, much less from an enterprise claiming to be the literal vanguard of journalistic integrity.
I know this firsthand, as the overturning of Roe inspired me to get involved with a pregnancy care organization, where I was stunned by the breadth of the services it provides. The first mom I served was an undocumented immigrant escaping domestic violence and caring for several other children as a single parent making minimum wage. She had zero interest in abortion; she was just seeking immediate material support.
We provided her with a stroller, car seat, hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries and grocery gift cards, winter coats for her children, as well as Christmas gifts for her family, baby clothes, diapers, wipes, and formula. She handed me every single medical bill from her pregnancy and delivery, and we paid them. And I gave her what she perhaps needed more than anything else, a hug, the encouragement that she was a strong enough woman to do this, and the knowledge that someone would be there for her and her family. Contrast that with the findings in a recent study that found that nearly two-thirds of women feel pressure to abort.
And yet, the word “abortion” never even came up. Nor has it come up with subsequent client moms I am helping, one who is a young teen and has no immediate family in this country. Instead, we go through their list of needs and find a way to meet every single one of them. Soon I am going to her apartment with a team of men to install a crib. Many pro-life pregnancy centers go so far as to offer moms job training and even a home to live in as they transition through the postpartum stage. They exist to offer women who are seeking a refuge from the pervasive cultural pressure to abort and the support they need to thrive as the moms they want to be, no matter how challenging the circumstances of their pregnancy. This is not first and foremost “anti-abortion.” This is authentically and comprehensively pro-woman.
No doubt this is why a recent Marist poll found that 90% of Americans support these centers and the work they do. Americans know that their work is about far more than opposing abortion. And even those Americans who self-identify as pro-choice increasingly don’t recognize the modern-day abortion lobby that wears its bona fides loudly and proudly. The abortion heart pin look that Sen. Ed Markey sported to the State of the Union is not the look Americans are going for; it’s the provide-women-in-crisis-with-true-loving-support they want more of.
Which is why these centers find themselves quite literally in the crosshairs of abortion activists. As Jane’s Revenge, one of the leaders of the attacks on pregnancy centers, said in a statement:
“For the allies of ours who doubt the authenticity of the communiqués and actions: there is a way you can get irrefutable proof that these actions are real. Go do one of your own. Everyone with the urge to paint, to burn, to cut, to jam: now is the time.”
Now they have the Associated Press to help them make a list of targets.