When I called to make an appointment for the crisis pregnancy center, the woman on the phone only asked for my first name, phone number and the date of my last period. I told her that I had taken an at-home pregnancy test, but I wanted to make sure that I was actually pregnant and needed help working through my options. I stressed that I did not want to be pregnant. She told me that when I came in I could have a sonogram so that I could “see my baby” and that it would help me make a decision. I told her I might be interested in that, but that I wasn’t sure.
I did not know what to expect when I went in for my appointment. The CPC was located in a house; the living room was converted into a waiting room and there were several other small rooms that were used for counseling and storing maternity and baby clothes.
When the volunteer took me back to the room, I told her the pregnancy was unexpected and that I wasn’t ready to parent or be pregnant. She did not initially address my concerns, but instead continued to ask questions about my pregnancy. Based on my last period, she told me that I was eight weeks pregnant. I kept on expecting her to give me a pregnancy test, but she never did.
When she asked if I was considering having an abortion, I told her that I was weighing all of my options. At that point, she went out of the room and I could hear her talking to another counselor about what strategies to use on me. I heard them whisper something about “A Woman’s Right to Know,” a booklet published by the state that provides misinformation about abortion, and showing me the abortion section. When the volunteer came back in there was another woman with her.
The young woman introduced herself to me as a missionary. She preached to me for at least 20 minutes about how the Bible says abortion is wrong, even though I had previously told the volunteer that I was not Christian or even religious. Then she pulled out “A Woman’s Right to Know” and skipped to the abortion section. She read all of the death rates from different types of abortion procedures out loud to me and then asked me to read the section on abortion risks to myself. When I was done, she said that abortion was “bad” because it hurts “babies” and she could tell that I didn’t want to do that.
I told the missionary that I was also concerned about carrying the pregnancy to term because I had been consuming large quantities of alcohol when I didn’t know that I was pregnant, and I thought I might have already “hurt the baby.” She said that it was good that I was concerned about the “baby’s” health because it showed that I cared for my “child,” but did not address my concerns about my previous alcohol consumption. She then quickly changed the subject and took me to another room for my ultrasound, even though I still hadn’t taken a pregnancy test.
The ultrasound room was also small and had a table with models of fetuses through different stages of pregnancy. Once I was on the table, the missionary squirted gel onto my stomach and started poking around in search of the fetus. I knew I wasn’t pregnant and that the missionary would not be able to find anything. Eventually she said that she couldn’t be positive, but that she was “pretty sure” she saw the baby. She pointed to a grey shadow in my uterus. She called another volunteer into the room to try to get a better shot. The volunteer echoed that she couldn’t be sure about what she was seeing, but that she was “pretty sure” that small dark shadow was my “little peanut.”
At this point they asked how I was feeling about my pregnancy. I did not indicate that I was leaning towards one option more than another. I had been there for two hours at that point and I wanted to get out. The volunteer and missionary said they had a few more things to talk about with me, and took me back to the counseling room. They asked how I was feeling about “the Lord.” I told them I felt so overwhelmed by the pregnancy that I couldn’t reflect on that. They asked if they could pray for me, I said that would be fine. The missionary sat by me and put her arm around me while the volunteer leaned in and put a hand on my knee. After 10 minutes of prayer, the missionary said everything would be better if instead of worrying about the pregnancy and trying to anticipate the future I gave myself to Jesus and let him take over. They hugged me, gave me water and a Bible and sent me out the door without ever giving me a pregnancy test.