How Ultrasounds are Shaping Women’s Views on Abortion: Commentary

“Can’t choose abortion now.” Those were the words written on a feedback form after a young woman had a no-cost ultrasound at our pregnancy center. She came into the center undecided, but the pictures of her preborn child on the screen helped her make the decision to parent. I recently spoke to a woman who had an ultrasound at her OB/GYN, but struggled to view the images. She is pregnant with 13-week twins, and after the ultrasound, she scheduled to abort them. She couldn’t go through with it, though, so she skipped her appointment and came to our pregnancy center instead. The question of whether or not ultrasounds make a difference to women considering abortion and how they influence the world’s view of preborn life is the subject of a recent Cosmopolitan article. Writer Mattie Kahn asks the question, “Are ultrasound photos affecting abortion rates?” The article is a response to statements made by Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association. In an op-ed for USA Today titled, “The Ultrasound Generation,” McGuire made the claim that the pro-life movement is growing younger and stronger in thanks to an increase in ultrasound imagery and widespread social media. I would answer Kahn’s question by sharing some encouraging statistics. CareNet is a non-profit network that has 1,100 pregnancy centers in rural and urban areas. In their most recent report, they stated that in the last seven years, CareNet centers provided 698,649 ultrasounds – free of cost to women in need – and have a recorded number of 388,691 saved preborn lives. Since providing ultrasounds is one of CareNet’s most popular...

Do Pregnancy Centers “Obstruct Access” to Abortion?

What do we really mean when we use terms like “abortion access” and “reproductive justice”? Nov. 12, the New York Times ran an op-ed from noted pregnancy center opponent Meaghan Winter titled, “The Stealth Attack on Abortion Access.” Ms. Winter, who has devoted the better part of the last three years attacking community-based nonprofits who serve women and families with life-affirming pregnancy help … argues in her most recent piece that pregnancy centers represent an sneak attack on “abortion access.” Citing the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which bars the federal government from spending taxpayer money directly on abortion—fungibility and state funding not included—Ms. Winter argues that access to abortion has long been a major issue. This, combined with the recent introduction of state and local laws requiring surgical abortion clinics to maintain admitting privileges to local hospitals has perpetuated “a struggle for reproductive justice” where, “[we] will not achieve equal opportunity until a poor woman has the same sovereignty over her body and her future as a wealthy man.” Where do pregnancy help organizations fit into this maelstrom of access to abortion? According to Ms. Winter, at the very forefront of the effort, “obstruct[ing] women’s access to abortion.” Ms. Winter considers the threat of pregnancy centers and medical clinics so dire, in fact, that she leads off her op-ed with the following anecdote: A YEAR ago, a mother and self-described “God-fearing woman” called me after she had an abortion. She said that earlier, when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she drove straight to what she thought was a comprehensive health care provider near her home in Columbus, Ohio. When she...