By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D. NRL Director of Education & Research
Editor’s note: Parts One and Two of this three-part series appeared Thursday at NRL News Today. Dr. O’Bannon is examining in depth a new study published by abortion advocates. Much to their chagrin, the results showed that pregnancy care centers are effective in helping women find alternatives to abortion. Naturally, they spent a fair amount of time unsuccessfully attempting to minimize the significance of their own findings
After laying out the results and exposing some of the authors’ biases, today Dr. O’Bannon summarizes some of the important lessons we’ve learned from “Pregnancy outcomes after exposure to crisis pregnancy centers among an abortion seeking sample recruited online,” published July 28 in the online journal PloS ONE.
As a reminder, the study followed more than a thousand women who went online looking for abortion and then checked with them four weeks later to see whether they had visited a pregnancy resource center, had an abortion, had determined to give birth to their child, or were yet to realize an outcome.
Beyond the obvious conclusion that pregnancy care centers work, what are some of the other takeaways from this study?
Abortion advocates can’t stand competition. They don’t like competing for patients, for outcomes, for control of the narrative, and they avoid an honest debate at all costs.
In their world, it isn’t just that every woman who is single, facing financial challenges, trying to go to school, to hold down a job, to maintain a relationship wants or even “needs” an abortion. She ought to have one. And for abortion partisans, anyone who would argue differently, who would work towards a different outcome, must be diminished, neutralized, and discredited. This applies especially to pregnancy resource centers, which the authors call crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
This is why Ushma D. Upadhyay and her colleagues struggle mightily with their own results. Since they don’t support their preferred narrative, something must be wrong.
It just can’t be that women, when hearing the facts, when offered support and a real alternative, would choose something other than abortion, can it? Yet their data says yes, it is so.
The truth is most women really are looking for an alternative to ending the life of their unborn child.
Despite efforts by abortion advocates to make it look like women settle on abortion after carefully considering all their options, this study shows that many women only choose abortion because they don’t feel they have any other choice. And, of course, the abortion industry, led by Planned Parenthood, has no interest in offering an alternative to abortion. They have a vested interest in making a “choice” other than abortion seem impossible or unattractive.
However, the truth is that the Upadhyay study shows, many women leap at the opportunity when presented with an alternative, when offered support, and encouragement.
In addition, Upadhyay’s study shows, unsurprisingly, that proximity matters. How close the nearest pregnancy resource center is to where a woman is living played a large role in determining the outcome.
Most of the women who visited an identified CPC lived within five miles of that center. Women who reported being more than five miles away were less likely to visit a CPC. And, of course those who did not visit a CPC were more likely to have had an abortion by the time of the second interview at four weeks.
The study does not delve into, but data reported elsewhere (Hussey, The Pro-Life Pregnancy Help Movement, 2020) suggests that while the more than 2,500 pregnancy help centers significantly outnumber what Upadhyay calls “fewer than 800 abortion facilities,” more of those abortion clinics are located in major metropolitan areas where there may not be a comparable CPC.
Upadhyay’s study would appear to suggest that if more CPCs could be placed in these population centers where many of these large abortion clinics currently have the market all to themselves, we could expect even more women to choose life for themselves and their babies.
Something else the study reveals, surely unintentionally, is that pregnancy resource centers are wanted and needed. With so many women visiting CPCs and then opting to give birth to their babies rather than abort, it is clear that there are women looking for and finding something there that typically isn’t offered at their local abortion clinic.
Abortion clinics talk about “choice” but they offer few choices and very little tangible support or practical assistance for any woman who would consider anything other than abortion.
One other thing that is clear from the study is that abortion-minded women are less certain and more apt to change their minds than abortion advocates have told us. For years, these advocates have assured us that women have already gotten all the information they need and have made up their minds by the time they visit the clinic.
Therefore, informed consent laws and CPCs are just burdensome obstacles that change no minds and no outcomes—or so they tell us. Yet Upadhyay’s study offers evidence that women do indeed change their minds when presented with more information, more alternatives, and more support.
Abortion advocates work feverishly to try to discredit the work of CPCs, to legislate their closure or to compromise their mission, and to claim they are not needed. But everything in this study by abortion advocates points to CPCs offering and delivering an essential service that abortion clinics are not providing.
In whose interest do abortion clinics and CPCs operate?
Abortion clinics like to present themselves as being on the side of the pregnant woman, but they offer her very little beyond abortion.
To understand the true nature of their motivations and commitments, ask yourself who gets the money in these transactions.
At the abortion clinic, the money goes from the poor, desperate woman to the abortion clinic. They take her money, do what is necessary to kill the child, and send her on her way.
At the pregnancy resource center, the money goes from the center to support and assistance for the pregnant woman. And they stick by her side, free of charge, throughout the whole pregnancy and beyond.
To Upadhyay and her team pregnancy care centers by definition cannot be legitimate. Why? Because they don’t offer abortion. The study’s data, however, show that CPCs are not only legitimate, but welcomed, needed, and effective.
The explanation is simple: they offer the life preserving alternatives to abortion which are what many of these women are really seeking.