Last Thursday, an article about the Heartbeat Bill referred to HerChoice as a “women’s health clinic” available to answer student questions about pregnancy. It also cited a HerChoice representative stating they do not comment on political issues. However, HerChoice is not a medical clinic. Their website states they only provide peer counseling, not medical advice. Additionally, despite their public statements, HerChoice is an anti-abortion organization.
HerChoice is what’s known as a crisis pregnancy center, or CPC. According to Joann D. Rosen in “The Public Health Risks of Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” a 2012 article published in “Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health,” a CPC is an organization that provides “counseling and other prenatal services from an anti-abortion (pro-life) perspective.”Pro-life organizations estimate that between 2,500 and 4,000 CPCs exist across America, and many belong to national evangelical Christian networks.
A 2006 government study found that 87% of CPCs contacted provided false or misleading medical information.
HerChoice specifically is affiliated with CareNet and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, two national pro-life networks with the goal of ending abortion.
CareNet states in their vision that they wish to create “a culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn children.” Similarly, NIFLA states on their official website that they strive for “an abortion-free America.” To partner with and receive support from two anti-abortion organizations while using the name “HerChoice” is extremely deceptive.
HerChoice has also received training from Created Equal, a group that brings a Jumbotron and graphic images of aborted fetuses to BGSU's campus every fall. A Facebook post by Created Equal in November 2018 shows a photo of the training session, stating that “it is critical that all arms of the pro-life movement are working together.”The presentation slide shown in the photo reads, “Frame the Debate: Would you kill a born person because of their circumstances?” This is a reference to Created Equal's belief that abortion is never permissible, even in cases of rape or the mother's life being in danger.
In a 2016 opinion piece for BG Independent Media, Executive Director Shelly Burkhart states that HerChoice provides “ongoing support, regardless of a client’s decision.”
Additionally, when asked by the BG News in 2017 whether the name “HerChoice” might give students the wrong impression, Burkhart replied, “I certainly hope not. It clearly states on our entrance form and website that we don’t provide abortion.”
However, in a 2016 newsletter written for HerChoice supporters, Burkhart explains that changing their name from “BG Pregnancy Center” to “Her Choice” was designed to draw in students considering abortion. She wrote:
“Our mission is to reach abortion minded (AM) clients to equip them to choose life. After doing some research of AM clients, we discovered that women seeking abortions are less likely to visit a center with the word ‘pregnancy’ in its title. With this finding, we have chosen to change up our marketing strategy. While we will remain The Bowling Green Pregnancy Center, our ‘tagline’ will be HerChoice. We are reclaiming the word choice, because it’s God’s word to begin with! This is what we will use when dealing with clients. I assure you, our Christ centered focus remains.”
It is vitally important to give pregnant individuals comprehensive and unbiased information about every option and to advertise reproductive services honestly. Presenting HerChoice as a neutral “women’s health clinic” is intentionally misleading to BGSU students seeking healthcare.