Throughout the fall, UVa’s chapter of the Support without Shame campaign has worked to raise awareness about the shaming, deceiving and harassing techniques of many crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
Last Wednesday, we joined our campus interns to host an end-of-the-semester CPC Road Tour, presenting the findings of our year-long CPC investigation. Over the course of the semester, we saw little- to-no CPC activity on campus. However, almost as soon as we began publicizing the Road Tour, anti-choice fliers and materials started appearing around campus.
Because of the surge in anti-choice material, we prepared ourselves, anticipating people opposed to our campaign to ensure women are not misled when it comes to pregnancy options and reproductive health information would show up at the event. Despite all the anti-choice fliers posted throughout the building and on either side of the entrance to the classroom in which we were meeting [see below], no one showed up to oppose the campaign. All fifteen people in attendance were receptive to the report. Several came up after the discussion to talk about getting involved next semester and in the 2011 General Assembly session. These students were especially upset there seems to be no recourse for the false, misleading advertising of CPCs. They, like us, were outraged CPCs operate under the radar and dispense medically inaccurate information to women and men.
Although no one attended to disrupt the meeting, we are bothered by the increase in anti-choice materials on campus targeting college students with misleading, even erroneous medical information. One student was recently given a large “advertising supplement”-style handout created by Human Life Alliance, an anti-choice group calling abortion “the greatest injustice of all time.” The handout is full of manipulative and deceptive information on a variety of topics, including the favorite anti-choice tactic claiming a “link” between abortion and breast cancer. (Major cancer-research and advocacy organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure have disputed such a “link.”) Human Life Alliance and the handout even challenge the option of abortion care for women who are victims of rape or incest.
Finally, Human Life Alliance lists as part of its mission, “Promoting chastity, abstinence until marriage, and educating on the errors and health risks of the ‘safe-sex’ promotion.” These principles are not bad or wrong. However, using these principles to shame people for their sexual choices is wrong. The handout’s section labeled “The Science of Sex,” claims the “bonding effect of sex, due to the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, can be compared to duct-taping a couple’s arms together. Imagine ripping off the tape and using the same piece of duct tape to wrap the girl’s arm to a new guy’s arm…By switching partners several times, particles of skin and hair left on the tape reduce the adhesiveness so it doesn’t attach effectively.” The message is based in shame; Men, but especially women, should be ashamed of any sexual choice beyond monogamous sex in a currently-legal marriage. (For a much more informative, less biased, look at oxytocin, check out Heather Corinna’s essay on it.)
College men and women deserve access to medically accurate, science based and unbiased information about all their reproductive health options. College students deserve not to be misinformed, manipulated or harassed. College students deserve support without shame.
[Thanks to our intern Kripa for her work on this post.]