You have a quarter mile left to go and just two minutes until your appointment. You’re in a rush because you had to leave work early and you’re a little nervous. Unsure of where the office is located you’re relieved to see the number so you pull in, park, and start walking quickly toward the medical building. That’s when you notice them, a group of people holding signs seemingly standing in the way of the entrance.
A large older man approaches you and offers you a piece of paper. “There’s still time to reconsider,” he says. Just then, one of the women screams, “Baby killer!” Now, you’re completely freaked out so you walk even faster past the others toward the doors to the building. Ahead, a man in a white medical coat comes out of the building to meet you. He asks if you’re alright and assists you into the building.
You’re somewhat relieved, still thrown off by what just happened. Once inside the office, though, something seems off. Just then, the man you assumed to be a physician’s assistant or nurse tells you that getting a vasectomy can be psychologically damaging and that you may get testicular cancer. You are definitely not at the urologist!
This obviously doesn’t happen to men in Connecticut, but it does happen to women. Throughout Connecticut there are 25 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), now referring to themselves as pregnancy resource centers, that are set up to look like reproductive health clinics. Even their websites are designed to look like a legitimate reproductive healthcare provider, with co opted language on choice and options.
But, CPCs don’t offer reproductive healthcare choices or options. They provide false information to women who come to their center and don’t make referrals to legitimate reproductive healthcare providers. According to research done by NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, women who have visited a CPC in our state were told that they were sinning for getting an abortion, that they might not make it out alive, and that some women are left with half of a baby inside them after having an abortion.
When a woman seeks healthcare in Connecticut, she should receive healthcare. She shouldn’t be advertised to on buses, the web, billboards, and in office windows with messages that trick her into thinking she’s accessing healthcare. If CPCs want to offer religiously based advice and care for pregnant women, so be it. But purposefully deceiving women into thinking they are accessing reproductive healthcare in order to push religious doctrine is deceptive and should not be permitted in the state of Connecticut.
Lawmakers have an opportunity to change this. HB 5416 requires that CPCs accurately advertise their services. A man seeking a vasectomy would be pretty peeved if he researched a procedure, located a urologist, scheduled an appointment, and took time off of work only to discover that he’d been tricked by a religious organization who opposes his legal right to obtain a vasectomy.
This bill is fundamentally about women’s rights. In the “year of the woman,” we expect that Connecticut lawmakers will recognize this and vote in favor of HB 5416.
Jillian Gilchrest is an organizer with Women’s March Connecticut.