You may not know, but the shock troops from Planned Parenthood and their (paid) supporters have been out in force in Pittsburgh recently. Amy Scheuring, Executive Director of Women’s Choice Network, sums up what happened:
“On Monday [July 17], two young actors from the New York City area posed as a nervous client couple seeking a pregnancy test at our Monroeville location. These fake clients gave a convincing performance (complete with tears and hugs!) and our team lovingly served them according to our normal medical policies and procedures. But their visit was a “reconnaissance mission” fueled by an agenda to discredit our work. Grabbing literature on the way out the door, this young man and women were part of an orchestrated ambush that would unfold over the next 24 hours.
“On Tuesday afternoon our North Side Center staff observed a group of protesters blocking our entrance and storefront. The group was led by Lizz Winstead, a nationally known comedienne and activist. A camera crew and observer were filming the event. About 10 people dressed in medical scrubs chanted slogans included 'God hates fake clinics' and 'CPCs hurt women.' Our first response was to email our prayer partners to pray for us. Then the police were notified and the officers cleared the entrance so that our scheduled clients could enter. Early in the protest, the fake client couple was called upon to recount their experience. That’s when we realized the full impact of this smear campaign. The false accusations that followed were almost too numerous to count.”
Reaching over the heads of the noise-makers, to the people
You can read more and see the remarkable exchange at the end of the demonstration, where a father of a child appears out of the blue and tells the demonstrators that this little boy would not be here if Women’s Choice Network had not been there for him and his partner, here. Reality met falsity, and the simple truth was seen.
This protest is part of a national campaign (possibly funded by tax-payer-supported Planned Parenthood) to discredit pregnancy medical centers and help centers. You can see their online pitch here.
So far, the abortion activists have not generated much "buzz." Lizz Winstead, the comedienne who put her rant against the North Side’s Women’s Choice Network site on Facebook, pushes a series of lies and smears. WCN has competent, certified professionals on staff. Their sonograms are read by a physician. They don’t lie. They don’t judge. Their reading materials are approved by a physician for accuracy. Etc., etc.
Did you know that a sampling of over 20 Pennsylvanian abortion mills shows women give them, on average, 3.3 out of 5 stars on Google Places, while pregnancy centers in the State receive an average rating of 4.2 stars. (Thanks for that bit of information, Betty McDowell, of Heartbeat International!)
So what do we do? We can ignore Lizz and company. We can get on Facebook and politely and gently correct their mistakes. (For example, we can point out to others commenting, under the post of her ranting, that Women’s Choice Network gets no government funding. None.) If we know the centers first hand at all, we can look them up on Google, Yelp!, and Facebook, and say good things about them. Reviews encourage women to trust the trustworthy.
We can do even more. With advertising on Facebook, we can reach over the heads of those protesting for abortion, to the large majority of women and men who are in the middle, who don’t know what they think, but who appreciate people trying to help people. And that’s what the pregnancy medical centers here in Pittsburgh do. Our ad on the upper left goes over the heads of the pro-choice crowd, and will have been seen by about 25,000 young women in Allegheny County several times by the end of this month.
"Lack of public awareness of the [centers] . . . is a huge barrier"
A survey was conducted of 1,000 women and 300 men in 2014 on the perception of pregnancy help centers. It found that 51 percent of women respondents who knew someone who had been to a center had a “very positive” experience of the centers, and 39 percent had a “somewhat positive” experience. This is a very good result for this kind of survey. The same survey found that “lack of public awareness of the P[regnancy] H[elp] [C]enters and their networks is a huge barrier to increased public cooperation and support.” “The historic limits on the ability of PHCs to advertise their services and reach potential clients at the earliest possible decision point [regarding abortion] remain little changed since 1997.”
We're changing things here in Allegheny County. Despite the protesters and the abortion promoters, Vision for Life’s advertising is reaching over the heads of the noise-makers to the people, to those who may be thinking about abortion, and to their friends and family. Women are changing their minds, and they are grateful. Babies are being born. Who can object to that? Really?
Chris Humphrey has been involved in pro-life activity of one kind or another since the late 1970s, when he first looked at the subject of abortion in seminary in Canada. He has an undergraduate degree in English (University of Toronto), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in religious studies (McGill). He has had a varied career as a pastor, chaplain in a psychiatric hospital, editor of academic and instructional publications, semi-professional photographer, and home renovator. He is a husband of over 40 years to Edith (a Professor of New Testament), father to three girls, and grandfather to fourteen grandchildren. He lives and works in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh.