McGovern: How Crisis Pregnancy Centers empower a woman’s right to choose

Author: Marcy McGovern - August 22, 2016 - Updated: August 22, 2016

Marcy McGovern
Marcy McGovern

Justine Sandoval’s Aug. 3 guys commentary in the Colorado Statesman called into question the credibility of crisis pregnancy centers. But her article missed crucial facts. In counterpoint to her opinion, I invite readers to consider crucial facts and see how crisis pregnancy centers empower a woman’s right to choose.

In my staff role at Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Denver, I have had the opportunity to witness the empowered choices of women every day for the past 15 years.

Just recently—in the conversation Ms. Sandoval referenced—a female student on the Auraria Campus sensed that empowerment in her first impression of Alternatives Pregnancy Center: she recognized that it is a place to learn about alternatives for an informed choice.

I agreed with this smart young woman, who described herself as pro-choice. I also confirmed what we at Alternatives know by our professional training and experience: Women are smart, and they do better emotionally when given the opportunity to make informed decisions for themselves.

So allow me to share my boots-on-the-ground perspective that comes from serving 8,864 teens, women and men during the past year alone, through the services and programs of Alternatives.

Like most of the 60 crisis pregnancy centers across Colorado, Alternatives provides a range of services that includes pregnancy testing, pregnancy ultrasounds, STD testing and private consultation—all provided free of charge, so that no one benefits financially from a woman’s private choice.

These crisis pregnancy centers discuss all pregnancy options: abortion, adoption and parenting. Although they do not refer for abortion, or recommend it, the fact that all three options are discussed provides women with the opportunity to make an informed choice.

As Ms. Sandoval mentioned, she and I did speak on the Auraria Campus this past spring. I asked her to remove Alternatives Pregnancy Center’s logo from information being distributed by NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. The organization had not asked permission to use our logo, and their statements about Alternatives were misleading.

Ms. Sandoval and I also talked about the fact that pregnancy centers do not recommend abortion. She expressed her view that our organization’s name, Alternatives, was misleading.

But remember that female student I mentioned earlier? She had been observing the conversation and asked a clarifying question: “So you are saying if I came to Alternatives Pregnancy Center and got a pregnancy test and wanted an abortion— which you don’t provide—I could learn about all the options then leave and get an abortion elsewhere?”

“Yes, exactly,” I responded.

“Well then your name, Alternatives, is totally accurate. You are giving me all my alternatives, then letting me decide.” That is how crisis pregnancy centers empower a woman’s right to choose.

The majority of these centers are faith-based, nonprofit organizations fulfilling their stated mission. They accurately promote the scope and the limits of their services; they do not seek to be all things to all people.

Many of these centers go beyond what is legally required to serve the best interests of women. For example, Alternatives Pregnancy Center, which has an office on the Auraria Campus, is voluntarily HIPAA-compliant. We provide this level of confidentiality and privacy to every client served by our medical professionals and counseling staff.

Ms. Sandoval calls herself an advocate for women’s reproductive rights. I respect her in the same way that I respect all women. I believe she is smart and deserves to make choices for herself.

I also believe Ms. Sandoval can see the same reality I do: An unintended pregnancy changes a woman’s life forever. Every woman deserves the opportunity to consider her alternatives and make an informed choice.

The fight for an informed choice for women is something we can agree on.

Marcy McGovern

Marcy McGovern