Finding Alternatives to Planned Parenthood
by Rachel MacNair
Back on January 7, 2016, I wrote a post for this blog called “Defunding Planned Parenthood” that went over the consistent-life reasoning to take such action for a nonviolent world. It responds to the objection that PP contraception programs prevent abortions by explaining how this doesn’t fit experience. It also responds to the objection that women in poverty need the non-abortion services – that is, actual medical services – that PP provides with the observation that there are thousands of Community Health Centers (CHCs), while only about 600 PP centers (350+ do abortions, 250+ only refer for surgical abortions). But then, there are pockets where there is in fact a PP center but no CHC; as it turns out, we found 77 of them with no CHCs within 5 miles. If I may quote myself:
Whenever there are such pockets, it’s telling those women in poverty they have no choice but to go to an organization that is startlingly callous about the lives of their prenatal children. Women should have the right to quality care, and quality care is best provided by people who are sensitive to all of human life and don’t make excuses for its destruction.
At that point, one of the strategies offered was to “get definite information on where all those pockets are, and then work with city or state legislatures to make alternatives available.”
Then, on April 17, 2017, I extended this point with “Noncooperation with Planned Parenthood.” I covered some basics about boycotts and the legislative goal of taxpayer defunding, and finally I offered a Noncooperation Campaign for grassroots activists. Find where the PP centers have no CHCs, and see what can be done about that. Find where they have perfectly good and readily available CHCs that can handle more patients if people go there instead, and figure out ways to persuade them to go there instead. Find out where there’s a problem: a specific CHC isn’t really a worthy place to send people. But if it has potential, figure out ways to make it more worthy.
Then I offered the web page for U.S. PP centers, the one PP itself offers, and the web page from the U.S. federal government on the federally-qualified community health centers. And I suggested this would be the homework for activists who wish to do that.
And there it sat. One mention buried in a blog post somewhere does not a campaign make.
So we at the Consistent Life Network decided to make a US national campaign of it. We did all the start of the homework – getting each U.S. PP center in each state matched with all the U.S. CHCs that are close to it (and we encourage people in other countries to consider using this as a model). Each state has its own page on our website:
We explain in more detail on the web site, and we offer action suggestions:
Action: Ready to Go
When there’s at least one good CHC that we can feel comfortable sending people to.
Action: Needs Improvement
Some CHCs offer frustrations we want to avoid putting people into; are there things we can do to make the CHCs more suitable as PP alternatives?
Action: No CHCs Nearby
We count 77 centers that have nothing nearby; can we find some alternative to PP, or can we make an alternative?
Action: How to Participate
Starting local campaigns.
What we list is different from the average Crisis Pregnancy Center, or Pregnancy Help Center. Those are excellent alternatives to abortion, but they generally provide non-medical services almost entirely for pregnant women. This campaign is extending beyond alternatives to abortion, on to alternatives to all of Planned Parenthood. Around 40% of their business in the U.S. is testing and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). So in this campaign, we’re only looking at places that directly offer medical services, and at that, only the services that the PP centers also offer.
I said that we started the homework. But all we offer at the start was what can be found on the web. And not even all of that, since checking the web pages of all the individual CHCs would have extended the homework by several months more. It makes more sense for local people to do their own locales anyway, as a start to any local actions.
But there are all kinds of things that can’t be found on the web. In one case, we got word that although a particular CHC may be a certain number of miles away from the PP center, there was a large body of water in between them. No one local would really think of it as nearby. Distances “as the fish swims” show that web pages are often not very bright.
So any help on the homework by checking your own local listings and seeing what you already know, or check on their web pages, anything that improves the quality of the listings, can be a big help.
Then we look forward to getting stories from people about what local actions they’ve taken. More suggestions, more factual information, more ideas. The web page is a tool for coordinating all the information. From small 5-minute contributions to months or years in campaigns, the very thing that the pro-life movement excels in.
There’s no heirarchy here. One person coordinates, the web page communicates, and from there it’s all large numbers of people sharing.