Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Run for the Right Reasons


Healthy Nacogdoches is the local organization sponsoring the 5K series that I've been taking part in. I'd run the first two races and was looking forward to completing the challenge this month. That was before I realized that the beneficiary of the final 5K is the Heartbeat Pregnancy Center - a crisis pregnancy center with a pro-life and anti-choice agenda whose website is full of misinformation and manipulative efforts to shame women away from abortion. Here's a great example from their website:
After an abortion, women will often go into denial making it difficult for them to identify post-abortion stress in their lives. Systems such as acute sadness, long-term grief, anger, guilt, shame, flashbacks of the abortion, memory repression, increased use of alcohol and drugs, difficulty keeping close relationships, difficulty bonding with children, and a sense of loneliness are all a symptom of post-abortion stress. Abortion is a secret that is buried deep inside and eats away at your heart. (Emphasis mine.)
They also go over all the physical and emotional risks of abortion, without once mentioning the physical and emotional risks of pregnancy, childbirth and/or adoption - all of which are far greater than an abortion, especially in the first trimester (when the majority of abortions occur). Not to say that no one should get pregnant because it's dangerous, but it's imperative to have all the facts before making such a huge and life-changing decision. Basically, crisis pregnancy centers are single-minded and agenda driven centers who put their own interests ahead of the well being of the women they are claiming to help. As a pro-choice woman who strongly believes that every woman deserves the information, support and autonomy to make the decision that is best for her, I will not be supporting this organization or running this 5K.

I love races. I love the community of running together, the excitement of a race, and the purpose that comes from running for a cause. But before I register and fork over my money, I have to make sure the cause is one that I support. Even if the run benefited Planned Parenthood, I would still find it odd and unfair for those with differing views and I'm disappointed that Healthy Nacogdoches chose to make a political organization part of their 5K series. I've tried to contact the organizers to let them know my feelings on this, and will keep y'all updated when and if I hear back.

Luckily, the Barkothon 5K is at the end of April, and the proceeds from that event will go to the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter - one of my favorite local charities and a cause that just about anyone can get behind. I hope Healthy Nacogdoches is taking notes.

28 comments:

  1. "They also go over all the physical and emotional risks of abortion, without once mentioning the physical and emotional risks of pregnancy, childbirth and/or adoption - all of which are far greater than an abortion, especially in the first trimester (when the majority of abortions occur)." Do you have a source to back this statement up? To say that the physical and emotional risks of pregnancy and childbirth are "far greater" than abortion is a pretty bold statement. I am a mental health counselor, and I honestly feel the need to say that abortion does contribute to a great amount of emotional distress in women. The pro-choice agenda seems to gloss over the often long-lasting damaging effects of an abortion, such as regret, guilt, depression, etc. The group you mentioned may be using strong wording and a shame-based approach, which I don't agree with, but I do wish women were more informed that abortion certainly isn't an easy answer with no residual effects on mental health.

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  2. Heavy topic to dive into! While I am "pro-life" (such strange terms have been coined in this debate!), I really admire people who stick to their principles and can make a solid argument for why they believe as they do. Glad you found a run that is in line with your beliefs!

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  3. The scare tactics used by these so called "crisis centers" is beyond despicable. I hope more runners are informed and/or care where their money is going like you are.
    Good luck at the Barkothon! Running for animal charities is always a good idea in my opinion! :)

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  4. I really admire you for this post and for your honesty. We need to make sure that that the causes we support and promote, especially through are blogs, are ones that we know and support 100%.

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  5. I'm proud of you for standing up against a group that is focused on controlling women, no helping them. Go you!

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  6. Hi Meredith! I do have sources and I will post them later. I'm at work right now and don't have the links readily available.

    I do agree that post-abortion emotional distress is a real thing and I wish that there was more support for women who have had an abortion. I personally believe that a lot of this stress comes from the fact that women who have abortions are often secretive about the procedure, due to fear of judgment from others. I also believe most women who have abortions understand the weight of their choice and do not make it lightly.

    One thing I can quickly point out is that this organization in particular goes on about the negative affects of abortion, but makes no mention of Postpartum depression, which affects 13% of new mothers and can be quite serious. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/depression-pregnancy.cfm

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  7. Thanks for your comment! I appreciate when people with differing opinions can talk about things in a rational and respectful way. :)

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  8. Thanks, Laura! I so appreciate your comment. Posting about this kind of stuff is hard for me because I hate confrontation, but comments like yours make it worthwhile. :)

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  9. Thanks Miranda! Your comment means a lot!

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  10. In actuality research from the APA (American Psychological Association) demonstrates that stress following an abortion for most women is no different from stress following any major life event (including marriage, birth of a child, death of loved one). All life events are stressful but abortion does not have any more or longer lasting effects than any other event. Obviously, individual differences mediate this - as they do response to childbirth (as Chrissy pointed out some women develop post-partum depression, baby blues, and sometimes post-partum psychosis). Whatever tactics either side of this debate may use, the pro-choice movement's stance that abortion does not have long-lasting ill consequences for most women is firmly rooted in research. While I do not have the exact citation with me, I know this because it is in my study materials for the nationwide licensure exam that clinical psychologists are required to take. I was incredibly pleased to learn that this finding has been replicated enough that all doctoral level psychologists are required to know this before they practice in the mental health profession.

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  11. Brava Chrissy! For doing your research and sticking to your values and ethics and for sharing your decision with us. I support your decision 110%. Money speaks loudly and it is always disheartening to learn that my money has gone or would go to a cause I do not support (or, in many cases, does not support me as a pro-choice, feminist, queer, vegan, trans-allied woman).

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  12. I found this link: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/index.aspx; it makes sense that mental health prior to an abortion would correlate with mental health after an abortion. You make some valid points. I'm guessing we could find research for and against the issue, really. I'm probably biased due to my own experiences working at an inner city mental health facility with teenagers. They rarely seem to understand how an abortion will effect them, or pregnancy for that matter, yet abortions do seem to effect them differently than other life stressors. Call it anecdotal evidence if you will, but that's my experience. My office is actually next door to an abortion clinic. I wish the pro-life movement could find a more effective intervention tactic than fear and shame. I see the protesters out there and honestly wish I could go challenge them to find a more meaningful way to volunteer and help women long before they reach a clinic door.

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  13. I agree 100% with you there. If the mainstream pro-life movement wants to truly decrease the number of abortions, they need to support comprehensive sex education, access to contraception, and support for families (including AFTER the child is born!).

    Pro-choicers generally do the above things, in addition to supporting access to abortion when needed. But I think we can agree that we all, no matter which side we support, want to see less unplanned pregnancies and a decrease in the abortion rate.

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  14. Yeah...I still haven't registered for it. I likely will just because of the series, but it's not really ideal.

    On a side note, I always read your blog last in my list of things to read in Google Reader. Your posts are always the most interesting to me, and I always save the best for last. :)

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  15. Good for you! I totally agree with your points

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  16. Chrissy!

    Thanks for the kudos! Say, you really spruced this place (your blog) up since the last time I was here. So warm, yet so professional! It looks great.

    Let's keep each other posted as the rest of the responses come back. Happy Wednesday!

    - Jim

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  17. Thanks Chip! I know you are an Internet connoisseur so that means a lot. :)
    And I understand your conundrum with this race, since you might actually win the series. Sucks to be put in this position, which perfectly illustrates why this "charity" in particular was a bad idea!

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  18. Hey Beans! Thanks for stopping by. My design is in flux - I'm hoping to have a new one up in a few weeks - but thanks for your kind words anyway!

    I still haven't heard anything yet, but I did apply to nine schools. Much more ambitious than last year's four! You'll definitely know when and if I get in anywhere. I hope you keep hearing good news!

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  19. Chrissy, Thanks for this post. It's brave and admirable to write about such topics within a blogging community that sometimes shies away from confrontation. This is a particulary relevant topic considering that a witch hunt has begun on Planned Parenthood.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49556.html

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  20. Glad to see you decided not to run it and contacted the race organizers.

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  21. Back in the old days (80's), the phone book used to include these centers under the heading "Abortion." A friend of mine went thinking she was getting a pre-appointment for an abortion, and came back really traumatized. I am happy to say that I was instrumental in getting the header "Abortion Alternatives" included in the phone book. I went to the agency, recorded their scare tactics and sent the tape to the attorney general. I think people should go into situations like that with their eyes open. I wish they actually offered help -- perhaps they do these days. Back when I dealing with them, they offered a dose of fear, and that was it. They didn't even offer so much as a referral to an agency who could help mothers who wanted to carry to term.

    I don't blame you for not participating in this particular race. I wouldn't either.

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  22. I contacted my representative about PP funding today. I don't think it will do much good - my rep is Louie Gohmert, who has been featured on the Daily Show numerous times due to his stupidity - but it was worth a shot.

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  23. Michelle, I love your story! Not the part where your friend was traumatized, but at the action you took to save others the misfortune of going to that organization. Unfortunately, I don't think these organizations have changed much over the years. Their website alone is full of fear and shame, so I doubt going to their actual office would be any better. Such a shame, especially since the closest Planned Parenthood is in Lufkin. :(

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  24. I'm just catching up on your blog. Not to down play what the person wrote on the website, but I have majority of those symptoms and I'm not pregnant or have recently had an abortion. Just saying. MUCH LOVE, Chrissy :)

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  25. Yet another reason to love you.

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  26. I hadn't seen this post until you linked it from your new one. I agree completely.

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  27. Thanks Clare! Your comment is much appreciated. :)

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