Inside a Crisis Pregnancy Center
Lessons learned about bad fathers, young mothers, despair, and hope.
Feb 10, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 21 • By EVE TUSHNET
Pro-life pregnancy centers can focus not solely on discouraging abortion, but also on helping men and women orient their romantic lives toward marriage. Many of us were startled in our training for our work at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center to learn that clients whose pregnancy tests came out negative also need to be counseled. We were so conditioned to view pregnancy centers as baby-savers, we'd failed to notice that virtually every negative test is also a sign that something is going wrong in a woman's life. Too often, women heave a sigh of relief at the results, but don't change their habits--and are back in six months with the old anxious stare and a double load of guilt.
Sex education curricula, then, should emphasize chastity and good marriages. Both "safe sex" and "abstinence-only" curricula tend to fall into the trap of trying to scare teens with statistics on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But teens are not very interested in reducing risk, and they're certainly not good at it. They are interested in romance, taking control of their relationships, and preparing for the future. Chastity counseling is what I do most often at the center.
Finally, since Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center is a Christian ministry, I should touch on religion. Almost all the women we see were raised as Christians and consider themselves Christians, but feel profoundly alienated from the heart of their faith. I've been surprised at how many women respond with interest and enthusiasm when they hear a brief, clear explanation of the essential Christian truths. "That makes a lot more sense," one teen said ruefully, than the confused and diluted notions she had brought with her. Such understanding is the best weapon of all against fatalism.
Eve Tushnet is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C. The views expressed here are her own and not those of the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center.