by Judy Eskin
During a recent standout held by Greater Andover Indivisible and Solidarity Lowell at the Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) in Lowell, a PCC Board member came out to talk — insisting that we should not be protesting without knowing what his center does.
“All we do is help women who need help,” he said. ”Are you opposed to that?” He then told me that the staff “discuss all options with their clients,” but dodged my question about what they tell clients about abortion. Later he returned to invite me inside for a tour, and I accepted.
PCC was lovely and inviting
I was met by the site manager who was lovely, warm, and seemed entirely genuine. She did not come across as slick or cagey at all. The facility itself is in an old, very large Victorian mansion. The interior is lovely and inviting and, to my surprise, did not pretend to be a medical facility. It contains several comfortable living-room style spaces, and sunny “boutiques” of maternity clothes, baby clothes, and supplies. There is also a small food pantry for clients.
The manager was clear that their provisions alone are not enough and that they always identify clients’ needs and refer them to community and public resources for assistance with food, housing, etc.
I raised several issues that I had heard or read about fake clinics: That they pressure women to continue their pregnancies; that they give false information about abortion; and that they are religiously affiliated and push their religious beliefs onto clients. Each time she responded that her center does not do those things, earnestly insisting that she “could not work there if they did.”
She emphasized that the two sites she oversees are independent and not directed by any larger organization. She added that the practices of unrelated sites unfairly give hers a bad name.
My tour lasted about 15-20 minutes and was very disorienting. The manager seemed so sincere and was completely contradicting everything I have read and learned. I left wondering if perhaps the PCC of Lowell might be the exception to the rule, especially since its website had seemed bland and unobjectionable.
Many AACs have two web sites
Later, I learned that many of these fake clinics have two websites. I encourage you to check out the stark differences between the Lowell site’s benign-seeming website Pregnancy Care Center, Lowell, which comes up when searching on ‘pregnancy,’ ‘abortion,’ etc. versus their friends-of PCC website, which is geared to donors.
I also learned from someone more knowledgeable than I, that if a site is referring people to community resources, it is as likely to encourage referrals from those entities as it is to send existing clients for help.
The moral of the story: These fake clinics are so skilled at deception, that even an intelligent, well-informed person (as I like to think of myself) can be taken in. We must keep working to call out the lies that many “crisis pregnancy centers” are disseminating and the grave harms they are causing. They claim to be saving lives, but in truth they are “saving” fetuses at great social, economic, and health costs to women, their families, and their communities.
If you’d like to learn more about anti-abortion centers in Massachusetts, and work to expose them for what they are, come to a meeting of the IMC Feminist Action Team.