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The abortion movement’s emerging post-Roe playbook

Corporate stigmatization of pro-life efforts distorts reality

U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (left) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) join Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman at Yelp headquarters in San Francisco. Wikimedia Commons

The abortion movement’s emerging post-<em>Roe</em> playbook
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The effects of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision by the Supreme Court this summer continue to develop, as for the first time since 1973 states have new ability to regulate abortions. In addition to political fallout from the decision—notably the work by many progressives to codify access to abortion in state law—many corporations quickly took action to support this cornerstone progressive cause.

Major businesses, including big names like Apple, Amazon, and Disney announced plans to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions. Yelp also pledged such support, and following both rhetorical and material attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, the online ratings site announced a policy to “add a new consumer notice to crisis pregnancy centers to better distinguish them from clinics that provide abortion services.”

The move follows the emerging political playbook in a post-Roe era, which focuses on demonizing pro-life advocacy and support for pregnant women. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has led that effort, describing crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) as operating “specifically to deceive pregnant women with the goal of preventing them from having abortions.” In June Sen. Warren along with others introduced a bill to use the regulatory power of the Federal Trade Commission “to issue rules to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising related to the provision of abortion services.”

But as part of an emerging phenomenon that some have dubbed “woke capitalism,” many corporate entities are pursuing such progressive political goals through economic power and cultural influence. Yelp contends that its policy regarding CPCs is intended “to further protect consumers from the potential of being misled or confused.”

Rather than being grounded in truth, such actions are the product of ideological fantasy and projection. In a diabolical inversion of reality, crisis pregnancy centers are cast as the villain and abortion facilities as the victims of coercive tyranny.

In a diabolical inversion of reality, crisis pregnancy centers are cast as the villain and abortion facilities as the victims of coercive tyranny.

Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion in America, describes itself as “a trusted health care provider, educator, and passionate advocate,” and for years claimed that “three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.” They get that count by inflating the number of total “medical” procedures. In reality, Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics (which are called that by their supporters) exist mainly to provide access to abortion—and with the support of government funding. That’s why in the month following the Dobbs decision, more than 40 abortion clinics closed. When their primary reason for existence disappeared, so did the rest of their purported health care services.

Crisis pregnancy centers, by contrast, exist to support women and families before, during, and after childbirth. Regardless of abortion’s legal status, pregnant women need such care, and these services are best provided within the context of the family. Consider the case of the Michigan-based pregnancy center LifePlan, the 2022 Hope Awards grand prize winner, which “offers traditional pregnancy center services, but staff and volunteers aim to provide women with long-term support by grounding the whole family on a foundation of Biblical sexuality.”

LifePlan provides common services associated with pregnancy centers: “LifePlan offers ultrasounds on Thursdays and tests for sexually transmitted diseases on Mondays and Thursdays. Women can get a pregnancy test anytime.” But as Addie Offereins writes, LifePlan offers more than such direct health care services. The organization aims to restore a vision of Biblical sexuality, which includes an emphasis on abstinence, campaigns against pornography, and training in family formation for couples and singles, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant or married.

Crisis pregnancy centers are grounded in the truth about the human person, sexuality, and procreation. They promote life and concrete alternatives to the illusion of personal freedom promoted by pro-choice ideology. Yelp would do better to consider adding warning notices to abortion facilities rather than targeting crisis pregnancy centers for condemnation—and perhaps worse. As it stands, the company’s policy to stigmatize CPCs is part of an alarming and growing alliance between corporate power and progressive sexual ideology, and that alliance is one of the biggest threats of our age.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of First Liberty Institute, and the associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.

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