Reproductive rights advocates are opening a first-of-its-kind pregnancy resource center that will offer a wide range of options for women with unplanned pregnancies. The center is seen by its supporters as an antidote to the strategy employed at anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers of limiting accurate information about and access to abortion care.
The All Options Pregnancy Resource Center, which will be located in Bloomington, Indiana, is a project of Backline, a nonprofit pregnancy options support network. The group operates a talkline, available seven days a week, that offers non-biased information about pregnancy, parenting, adoption, and abortion.
Backline Executive Director J. Parker Dockray told RH Reality Check that many of the women who call the talkline are seeking information about all of their options and how they are related to each other. “None of theses decisions are made in a vacuum,” said Dockray.
There are thousands of anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) around the United States. They often pose as reproductive health-care clinics and provide inaccurate medical information with the intent to dissuade women from terminating pregnancies. CPCs have also used deceptive advertising online, which has led to both Google and Yahoo! removing their advertisements from their search engines.
Backline chose Bloomington as the site of the new clinic in part because neither the town nor the state are havens of reproductive freedom.
Last year in Bloomington, a man wielding an axe attacked the local Planned Parenthood medical center and vandalized the building with red paint.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a ban on private insurance coverage of most abortion care, and state lawmakers introduced and voted to pass other anti-choice bills.
In January, an abortion provider in the state had charges filed against him after he faced an avalanche of complaints from anti-choice activists.
“Bloomington is at a crossroads for women seeking abortion support,” Shelly Dodson, Backline’s Bloomington-based program director, told RH Reality Check. The town is home to one of only four abortion providers in the state. Women from throughout southern Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky travel to Bloomington seeking abortion care.
Women facing unplanned pregnancies or other reproductive health-care concerns will be able to come to the center for counseling, free pregnancy tests, support groups, and resources such as diapers, baby clothes, care packages, and educational materials. Medical and legal services will also be available through referrals. The center also intends to provide unbiased information about reproductive health, with the goal of supporting women in whatever decision they make.
“Backline does provide truly unbiased all-options support that there are really no other organizations providing,” said Dockray. “The places that you see when you look for those options … are usually crisis pregnancy centers.”
“We know so many people who have abortions already have kids, and that’s part of why they make that decision in the first place,” said Dockray. “Why is it that you can go to one place to get counseling and an abortion referral and another place to get free diapers, but there are very few places you can go to get both?”
The decision to approach the issue from a reproductive justice perspective was done purposefully. “These decisions are not just about our individual values,” said Dockray. “There’s so much context that has do with social issues and geographic access that it all has to be a part of the conversation.”
The group is currently raising money to help pay for the cost of opening the center, and as of Friday had raised $7,600 of its $25,000 goal. About half of the money raised will go toward the first year’s rent for a space with room for private counseling, support groups, and volunteer training. Another $10,000 would be used for support staff hours, and the rest will pay for outreach, advertising, and supplies.