College Women Speak Out Against CPCs


As a college student, there are certain reproductive justice issues that are particularly close to my heart. The rising cost of birth control on college campuses is one example — paying $50 a month for birth control has put serious financial strain on some of my closest friends. Crisis pregnancy centers are another such issue. I have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and been involved with the campus chapter of Choice USA for the last four years and have seen firsthand why Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) pose a huge risk to college students.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers often target college women on my campus. In Chapel Hill, we have a CPC called Pregnancy Support Services located very close to campus. Women in college who may be away from home for the first time and are sometimes also sexually active for the first time are particularly vulnerable to the deception of CPCs.

My involvement with reproductive health issues has earned me a reputation among my friends as the resident expert on birth control and other sexual health issues. I am regularly surprised by the basic questions I'm asked, or how often I'll get e-mails from women who are barely acquaintances because there is something they need to know. These women need non-judgmental information. They're dealing with these sensitive issues for the first time, often far from home, and they need support. I do my best to help, but I am not a professional.

In North Carolina this is all exacerbated by the fact that the only sex "education" available in public schools statewide is abstinence-only. If I were to share all the horror stories and lies that my friends were told in their high school health classes I would far surpass my word limit. Suffice it to say that college students in states like North Carolina, where education about sex and pregnancy prevention is sorely lacking, are especially susceptible to the tactics of CPCs.

Consequently, vulnerable young women go to CPCs where they are given information about the ineffectiveness of condoms, the dangerous addictive nature of sex, or the emotional devastation they'll feel if they become sexually active (all of this is actually in brochures we collected from our local CPC!).

Because they can leverage women's lack of education about their sexual health, crisis pregnancy centers are often located near college campuses. And these are all reasons why, when our Choice USA chapter became aware that Pregnancy Support Services was advertising in our campus paper, The Daily Tar Heel, we wanted to speak out and prevent the women on our campus from being deceived.

Our campaign is just getting off the ground but we have felt a sense of urgency as more young women – hearing about our stance towards Pregnancy Support Services – have approached us to tell their stories.

They have told us that they felt more confused and scared after their visit than they did before and that they had no idea what they were getting into when they went inside. So we have written a letter to The Daily Tar Heel encouraging them to refuse to advertise for this organization, and telling them that by doing so they are complicit in this deception of students on our campus.

We have also begun to compile a comprehensive list of all the organizations in our area that provide reproductive care, including crisis pregnancy centers, with an honest, unbiased description of the services each of those organizations provide.

After a lot of discussion, our group decided that our goal was not to try to completely shut down the CPCs operation. Yes, doing so would prevent them from misinforming more women but, as they also offer free STD/STI testing and pregnancy tests, we did not want to deny women another place to access those services. Ultimately, we decided that our primary goal would be to educate our fellow students about the Crisis Pregnancy Centers and the services they will actually receive if they chose them. After that – just like with all reproductive health decisions – the choice is theirs to make.

Young women like myself and students in colleges all over the country are at risk of being misinformed by Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Young women should be alerted about the true nature of CPCs and have protection from their deception and dishonesty.

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  • http://www.choiceusa.org/choicewords invalid-0

    I can’t believe you have to deal with this stuff. I’m glad there are people like you to counter people like that. Stay strong.

  • invalid-0

    wow I wish there were people around here to help with this type of stuff. I tried our campus health center for birth control and the doctor had some very rude and judgmental things to say to me…I definitely made sure my friends who needed similar help did not go there.

    • invalid-0

      If you want to make sure that more young women aren’t insulted by that doctor for asking for birth control… why not ensure that nobody goes there?
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      Doctors are supposed to be sensitive to their patients’ needs and feelings, and denying young women birth control does not do that. They’re also supposed to keep their personal opinions of their patients to themselves. Being judgemental does not do that. And besides, preventing you from getting birth control could endanger you.
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      If that doctor was so bad, why not report him? He has no place working as a doctor (especially at a college) if all he’s going to do in deny his patients help.

  • invalid-0

    Thanks for your comments. Having been on an all woman campus where the only ObGyn provider seems to be paid by the Pill Co. to force this alternative on all and sundry, I am more than a little skeptical of college based providers.
    As outspoken as I am I must say that it is difficult to speak up in any healthcare providers office. It has taken me three years and upwards of 40LB in pill-inspired weight gain to realise that the RH birthcontrol choices of others are not always the best for me. I can only hope that women at other coed institutions are better prepped for these.
    The cost of these devices and meds is prohibitive, and even the best savers have less and less options to continue using these in case of college sex encounters.
    Over to you on the increased pressure on RH providers such as PParenthood to cater to these stressed college ladies.
    Good article.

  • http://www.cpcwatch.org invalid-0

    Hi Maureen–
    I’m not far from Chapel Hill (right down the road in Greensboro) and am one of the initiators of CPCwatch.org, a developing website that seeks to expose these CPCs for what they truly are, offer “red flag” warnings, and of course provide information on how to find a VIABLE reproductive heath clinic. We’re in our early phases of development right now, but we’re constantly networking many many energetic reproductive rights activists from all over. We have a facebook group (called Crisis Pregnancy Center Watch), and for now much of our organization will go on through that and via email. Anyway, I love what you’ve written here, and would love to have your support in this very ambitious endeavor!

    Email me at CPCWATCH@gmail.com if you’re interested in finding out more or lending a hand!