Jun 6, 2007

"When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear." -- Mark Twain

Today I received a letter in the mail from the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center (addressed to "Dr. MyNameMisspelled"). At first I laughed - I was going to forward it to my parents, so they'd finally be proud of me. Then I realized ... this was a crisis pregnancy center. And the letter was a bill for $25.

For those of you who aren't familiar with crisis pregnancy centers, they are pro-life organizations who represent themselves as free clinics in order to discourage women from terminating unplanned pregnancies. More information is available in this TIME article, and in this 2006 Congressional report*. In my opinion, they do a disservice to these women by providing incomplete, sometimes inaccurate and often biased information.

As a pro-choice, non-pregnant genetic counselor, I would have no reason to deal with such a group. I found out that FV (my colleague, also a genetic counselor) received a similar bill in the mail. So I called them up - apparently they just had their Love Life Walk fund raiser, and someone had put me down for a pledge. I politely explained to them that (1) I am not a doctor and (2) that is not how you spell my name, so clearly this pledge had been made without my knowledge. They promptly took me and FV off their list.

On the outside, I'm grateful for their appropriate response to my complaint. Inside, I am fuming**. Who would do something like this? Why? I have a hard time believing this was random, since FV and I do counsel our patients about the possibility of termination. Medical termination, after a chromosome condition or severe birth defect has been diagnosed in a woman's planned, wanted pregnancy. You know how hard that is? I'm sure you can guess - extremely hard. But because I give my patients all the facts and try my damnedest to be non-directive, I've been labeled as a Purveyor of Abortions and targeted for this con.

In my perfect world, no women gets an elective termination. In my perfect world, no pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted. But we don't live in my perfect world (Sri-topia), we live in this one. So excuse me for doing my job, and not letting personal beliefs get in the way of helping my patients do what's best for them.


*Some of these centers receive federal funding. Don't even get me started. But the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center does not, according to the helpful brochure they also sent.

**To clarify, I don't think this pregnancy center is involved in the fake pledge. They're more a victim of this than me, since they lost $50 of hypothetical money. I disagree with what they're doing, but I don't blame them for this ridiculousness.

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