Last Wednesday, Oct. 19, the department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies welcomed Elayne Richards and Lucy Hull of the Maine chapter of Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!) for a presentation entitled “Exposing Anti-Abortion Centers and Disinformation.”
GRR! is a pro-reproductive rights advocacy organization run by grandmothers who are committed to securing the access to reproductive rights, justice, and health care that their generation fought so hard to obtain for younger generations.
Richards and Hull shared information about their organization, anti-abortion centers, and what steps individuals can take to further reproductive justice in their communities.
In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, GRR! is committed to educating people on their rights and where they can access sexual and reproductive health services, free of manipulation and misinformation.
“There was more access to abortion in 1979 than 2017,” said Richards. “That ticked me off to no end.”
The presentation centered around anti-abortion centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers. Richards and Hull shared information about what these centers are, who funds them, how to spot them, and where to go to get good, safe, and trustworthy medical care.
What are Anti-Abortion Centers/Crisis Pregnancy Centers?
Anti-abortion centers (often advertised as Crisis Pregnancy Centers) aim to persuade individuals to avoid abortions and carry pregnancies to term. The vast majority of these organizations do not have medical licenses, even if they may appear to at first glance.
Common tactics used by anti-abortion centers include slowing down any decision so much so that medical abortion is no longer viable. These centers will commonly tell pregnant people that abortions have dangerous side effects such as an increased risk of breast cancer, depression, or infertility, none of which are supported by science.
Because these organizations do not have medical licenses, they are not subject to HIPAA, a federal law that protects patient privacy. This means that these centers can do whatever they want with vulnerable people’s medical information, including reporting them to law enforcement in states where abortions are no longer legal.
There are 2,500 to 4,000 of these centers in the United States, and they are central to the pro-life movement.
Is there an anti-abortion center in Waterville?
The First Choice Pregnancy Resource Center in Waterville is an anti-abortion center. While this center may appear to be a medical organization, it has no such qualifications.
This center has plans to open a new location on Main Street in Waterville.
On its website, the First Choice Pregnancy Resource Center claims to offer abortions, but a representative clarified that they do not actually perform or refer abortions.
“We do not refer for or perform abortions. We offer free pregnancy tests and education,” the representative said.
The representative was also adamant about the negative effects abortion could have on people’s lives.
“It affects the guys as much as the gals, multiple boyfriends and girlfriends break up after an abortion. I couldn’t let you off the line without saying that,” the representative said.
What can you do if you want to protect reproductive freedom?
Richards and Hull shared strategies for those looking to protect their reproductive freedom, including spreading the word about crisis pregnancy centers, informing people about where to get reliable medical care, and voting for candidates who will protect reproductive rights.
“Vote! Every election matters,” Richards said.
Although GRR! was founded by grandmothers, they work intergenerationally and are committed to educating people of all ages.
“As grandparents, as older people, it’s crushing to see people who have taken reproductive rights for granted not be able to have those things. We partner with younger people to change that,” Hull said.
~ Veronica McIntyre `24