- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There is a new war on choice in this country, and the leaders are none other than the captains of the abortion industry. Their target: pregnancy care centers (PCCs). Their technique: Brand the centers with a “scarlet letter” and force them to advertise abortion. Their goal: disparage the centers and drive women to abortion clinics.

It’s no wonder. Pregnancy care centers - and the compassionate and nonjudgmental services they offer - undercut the abortion industry’s bottom line. If women hear the truth about abortion and understand that they truly have a life-affirming choice, the abortion industry’s profits will decrease.

Take Megan, for example. When she found out she was pregnant, she felt scared and confused and believed everything she had been told: “Having a baby will ruin your life.” She made an appointment for a medical abortion, thinking that would ease her worries. But as the date approached, her anxiety only worsened - that is, until she visited a pregnancy center in Pittsburgh.

“The visit to the pregnancy care center changed my life,” Megan said. The care and information she received at the center was “about empowerment, guidance and support.” For the first time, she felt she had choices and could make a genuine, confident decision. “When I left [the center], I realized that the pit in my stomach was gone.” She gave birth to a baby girl she named Ava. Her story is shared in a 2009 pregnancy service report published by Family Research Council titled “A Passion to Serve, a Vision for Life.”

Then there is Sarah. She describes herself as “like any normal college freshman, just enjoying being young and carefree” - until she was raped one night at a party and found out a few weeks later that she was pregnant. Fortunately, her roommate told her about a local pregnancy center in Liberty, Mo. As Sarah recalls, “At the center, they sat down with me, they listened to me, and they helped me think through all of my available options. I was so thankful for how much information they had to offer. … After giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, I was able to place her in the arms of a loving couple who I knew would adore her and provide for her as their own.” Sarah now shares her story to support the services provided by the national organization Care Net on its “Success Stories” Web page.

The abortion industry is desperate to trap women such as Megan and Sarah within its “you must abort or lose your freedom” mantra. Two women, two choices - and lost profits from two abortions that weren’t performed.

Enter the “scarlet letter” campaign. The most recent effort by the abortion industry is to force its competition in the pro-life community to push an abortion message, requiring pregnancy care centers to post signs about abortion. Smearing the centers with false claims about the nature and accuracy of the information they make available, the abortion industry is pushing for the passage of ordinances across the nation that would require pro-abortion speech inside the walls of such centers.

In Baltimore, a recently enacted ordinance requires that pregnancy centers post signs alerting clients that the centers do not provide or refer for abortion. A federal district court in Maryland already has found the forced abortion messages to be unconstitutional violations of the free-speech rights of the centers. Recently, Americans United for Life filed an amicus brief in the appeal of the case, detailing the professional and compassionate care offered by national organizations such as Care Net, Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and their affiliates and refuting the patently false and politically motivated claims being made by the abortion industry against these centers.

What is obvious from the Baltimore litigation as well as litigation in New York over a similar New York City ordinance is that the abortion industry has no regard for women like Megan and Sarah who want to carry their pregnancies to term. The abortion lobby does not want women to know they have choices. When women receive truthful information about their choices, abortion profits decrease.

What also is evident from the Baltimore case is that the abortion industry feels increasingly threatened by the life-affirming care and counseling provided at pregnancy care centers. Desperate and having no other option, all the abortion lobby is left with is to attempt to smear the good name of organizations focused on helping women and their children.

Mailee Smith is staff counsel of Americans United for Life.

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