By Mary Margaret Olohan
WASHINGTON — Former Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said Sunday that crisis pregnancy centers misinform, shame and deter women from getting abortions, but employees at the Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center disagree.
But Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center Director Janet Durig told the Daily Caller News Foundation that not only does the center provide care and material support for mothers, fathers and babies before and after birth — it also provides care for women after abortions.
“We are here to provide support when people want support,” Raquel Terry, director of parental development at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, told the DCNF. “Our job is to provide information, not to make a decision.”
The center in the nation’s capital provides a variety of free material assistance to those in need, donating car seats to fathers who rush through their doors, giving free pregnancy tests to anxious women, providing parenting classes to clueless parents and more.
Bulletin boards on the walls advertise prenatal care options, food pantries, advice on how to keep children safe in Pack ‘n Plays and churches in the area.
Fliers in the center also display job centers, childbirth classes and parenting classes — because, as Durig and Terry explained, the center’s purpose is to set mothers up for success.
“We educate,” Durig said. “And we educate with their permission.”
The center’s shelves overflow with baby clothes of all sizes, brand new boxed up car seats, baby food, children’s books and more. Fathers or mothers in need may come to the center simply for material support, Durig said, and the center will happily assist them.
Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center does not pose as a health clinic.
Durig explained to the DCNF that crisis pregnancy centers only call themselves “clinics” if they offer sonograms run by a nurse practitioner. Sonogram results are then sent to a doctor to be read.
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center wishes to provide material support and care to women of any age or background — regardless of what choice that woman ultimately makes.
It is a pregnancy center dedicated to acting as a support for women in times of crisis, Durig said.
The pregnancy center director gave the example of a 16-year-girl who came to the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center frightened that she was pregnant and desperate for help.
The center provided her with a free pregnancy test and she discovered that she was not pregnant. But Durig said the center was prepared to support her.
“Until she’d read that pregnancy test here, it was a crisis pregnancy to her,” Durig explained.
Wen said crisis pregnancy centers seek to misinform and shame women. Planned Parenthood removed her from her position Tuesday.
Both Durig and Terry emphasized their job is to provide information to mothers rather than make a decision for them.
The client advocates that volunteer at the center are trained to respectfully ask clients whether they want to hear certain information, according to Durig.
“We don’t cross that line,” Durig added. “Every person here is trained not to cross that line when that person comes in. And if they say, no, I don’t want to know about it … that’s where we leave it. We don’t pressure them.”
Durig said women who come in usually appear unsure as to what they are looking for or what they want. Workers at the center will ask clients, “Would you like to learn more about your pregnancy?” If the client says “yes,” workers will offer the clients pamphlets on abortion, parenting, sexual activity and more.
The teens who come into the clinic are often afraid that they cannot finish school or go to college if they do not abort their unborn baby. Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center helps them understand that this is not true.
Durig said the center focuses on making these teens aware of their support systems outside the center, such as family.
“If our purpose was to misinform and shame, why would we bother supplying as many baby supplies as we do?” Durig said. “We do nothing more than show them care, support, and love through their pregnancy and after their pregnancy.”
“And that same caring support and love is shown to a woman who leaves here saying she’s still going to abort her baby,” the pregnancy center director added.
Clients who choose to have abortions are told that if they need someone to talk to after the abortion, they can come back to the pregnancy center.
As director of parental development, Terry teaches a parenting program at local high schools, churches and transitional housing centers for women. The courses are designed to guide parents to “lead, influence, fuel” and “engage” with their children, according to fliers at the pregnancy center.
The director said the center provides essential services.
“It’s not like you just have this baby and we say, ‘Good luck!’” Durig said. “We want to be there to actually walk alongside them and meet practical needs where we can and provide practical skills where we can. And that’s one thing I really love about the center that we do.”
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