CPCs lie to women. So we chatted them to see exactly what they were saying.
What are CPCs up to during a pandemic? Unlike abortion clinics, which politicians in many states have forced to close, CPCs are staying open. Some CPCs are offering limited services, and many are offering a unique service to women in dire need of advice about pregnancy: free online chats.
It’s no news that CPCs spread false and misleading information about abortion, but these chats are particularly dangerous now, when access to real reproductive healthcare is limited. In this project, we used chat services to engage with CPCs and see how they were talking to patients trying to navigate reproduction during the pandemic.
What we found was deeply concerning:
CPCs are coercing clients not to have abortions during a time when abortion has become less available.
Grace, Emily, Elva, and Joan are four current Middlebury students enrolled in Professor Thomsen’s Politics of Reproduction class, which is taught in Middlebury’s Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (GSFS) department. After learning transitioned to an online platform due to COVID-19, the group was interested in pursuing a project to see how CPCs used their online platform to influence pregnant women. All group members are passionate about expanding self-identified “feminist” and/or “pro-choice” people’s awareness of CPCs to become engaged in countering CPCs in the future. Following Bryant et al., we believe that women choosing abortion should be able to make a truly informed decision based on medically accurate information (604).
Grace ‘20 is a Political Science major and GSFS minor. Originally from Northeastern Kansas, Grace texted a CPC in Lawrence, KS and spoke with an Option Line operator who gave information about CPCs in Kansas City, KS.
Emily is also a member of the class of 2020 and is a Psychology major and Global Health-Education Studies minor. Emily is from the New York area and had trouble getting local CPCs to chat with her in anyway other than the phone but really enjoyed analyzing CPCs in the time of COVID-19.
Elva is a Computer Science major and Japanese minor and is set to graduate in the class of 2021. Elva is from Los Angeles, California. She reached out to Option Line in Spanish and spoke to a CPC in the San Fernando Valley.
Joan ‘22 is a Psychology major and Global Health minor. Hailing from South Burlington, Vermont, Joan reached out to Option Line operators who provided online chat information on behalf of the Middlebury and Bennington, VT CPCs.
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