Tag Archives: options

Reclaiming a Crisis: Backline is Working to Open the First All Options Pregnancy Center

20 Jun

By: Catrina Otonoga

If you dare utter the initials CPC in a room full of pro-choicers in a positive light, you better be prepared for some backlash. Talking about crisis pregnancy centers as a positive institution among reproductive justice, reproductive rights, and reproductive health advocates elicits a room full of negative reactions.

CPCs manipulate women at a vulnerable time in their lives.

CPCs don’t educate people about all their options.

CPCs hurt women.

So imagine my surprise when I was talking to Parker Dockray, Executive Director of Backline, about how she wants to emulate the crisis pregnancy center model.

“The model that CPCs have developed is valuable,” said Dockray, “but pregnancy  centers should not be deceptive.”

Dockray and the board and staff at Backline have decided to embark on an unparalleled mission, to create the first all options crisis pregnancy center. Crisis pregnancy centers are some of the most available institutions out there for women who are unsure about their pregnancy. Indiana has over 80, and they are one of 34 states that funnel money directly to crisis pregnancy centers. But they are full of misinformation and missing information.

However, as Dockray told me, CPCs often appear to meet the needs of women, even when they clearly don’t. Backline wants to reclaim the CPC model and create a brick and mortar place for the people of Indiana to turn to for support and community.

For the last 10 years, Backline has been answering the phone and offering support to people looking for options and judgment free counseling surrounding pregnancy. The Backline Talkline answers hundreds of questions each month about pregnancy options, parenting, abortion, adoption, pregnancy loss, miscarriage and other reproductive health topics. While the phone offers confidentiality, a new model could provide women with tangible support.

“The prochoice movement is not always great about visibly supporting parents,” said Dockray. Dockray hopes Backline’s new initiative will become a tangible place to demonstrate support for women across all options. Backline wants to create a place for women and their partners to receive counseling on abortion, adoption, and carrying their pregnancy to term as well as carrying diapers and other items for people to support their partners.

Opening the center in Indiana strikes a cord in a new way. The center will find its home in the middle of a red state, in a college town, surrounded by fields and conservative ideals. Reproductive rights, health and justice organizations are too siloed from each other, with each sticking to their own areas without much overlap or conversation. Backline’s All Options Pregnancy Center would bring these together under one roof, without agenda or pretense. Instead of being siloed, they are setting up shop amidst the silos in America’s Midwest heartland.

Bloomington is a town divided, one side of town is home to Hannah House Crisis Pregnancy Center, and the other is home to Planned Parenthood of Bloomington. Backline would create a middle ground, a place for women and their partners to go for real information. At a time when the middle ground seems like an impossibility in American politics, the Backline All Options Pregnancy Center will be an oasis. An oasis of information, moderatism, and choice, at a time and in a place where that hasn’t existed in a long time.

Welcome to the Midwest, Backline. If you want to help Backline build some walls, knock down some silos, and give people a place do go; click here if you’d like to donate, and click here if you live in Indiana and would like to join in.

Supporting Someone You Love Who is Pregnant: How to be an Ally

5 Jul

In social justice movements, we talk a lot about how to be good allies in our public and private spaces. I would argue that pregnant folks need allies too in those public and private spaces. Still, I think it’s hard to be a support person, to know the “right” thing to say, and to feel that one can really be there for someone else. If your friend, child, partner, significant other, client, or colleague says, “I’m pregnant,” maybe that person is looking for an ally. Here are some starting suggestions for how to provide that support.

Hold yourself accountable for creating safer spaces. There’s a lot of stigma around about who should and should not be pregnant, sex, parenting, adoption, and abortion. It’s more likely that you’ll be able to support someone you care about if you “advertise” yourself as a safer space. Remember to not make assumptions in your public or private life and to think critically about what you say. For example, don’t make the assumption that because someone doesn’t have a child that s/he has never been pregnant or make negative statements about single/young/queer/poor/undocumented/disabled mamas.

Thank that person for telling you. Regardless of how someone is feeling about being pregnant, this might be big news. Even if it’s not, that person told you for a reason, so showing you’re open to having a conversation is a great first step. This could be an amazing day for your friend or an incredibly hard one that has caused your loved one to ask a lot of big questions. Either way, you should feel honored that s/he made the choice to tell you.

Ask that person how s/he’s feeling. A lot of the time, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to say or do the right thing. The great thing is that you can let yourself off the hook and not have to intuit anything. Just ask. Remember that s/he might not be sure how s/he feels and that any feelings s/he’s having are okay.

Don’t make assumptions about what your loved one might want to do with the news that s/he’s pregnant. S/he might not even be sure of next steps, and it’s okay to help your loved one sort through options. A lot of times we make assumptions though about what a pregnancy means to someone. Some people might assume that younger or single folks might not want to parent or that a person in a committed relationship would not consider abortion. Even if someone has told you previously what s/he would do if s/he became pregnant, still take the time to ask. A real positive pregnancy test might lead to different thoughts than a hypothetical pregnancy.

Ask what you can do to provide support. Some people might want a hug or a ride or to talk or to stay silent or to have someone come with them to an appointment. Everyone’s different, so show that you care but ask first.

Keep the focus on the person you’re supporting. When you care about someone, and s/he mentions going through something that you also went through, it’s a normal first reaction to start giving advice, to start a play-by-play explanation of exactly what you did in a similar situation. The key is that each person is different and what might have worked for you, might really not work for your friend.

Educate yourself so you can provide accurate information and referrals. There is a lot of inaccurate information floating around about pregnancy, fetal development, abortion, parenting, and adoption. Knowing the facts can help improve your ability to help someone you love. Knowing what resources are available in your area that provide high quality, medically sound, and personally supportive care can be really helpful. There are even hotlines that you can call as a support person to get more information.

Take care of yourself. Compassion fatigue is real. Helping others without taking the time to support yourself can lead to taking on someone else’s pain. It’s also possible that if your loved one’s pregnancy could affect you personally. The key is to find a way to care for yourself without harming your loved one or taking away your friend’s right to make her/his own decisions about the pregnancy.