VISUALIZING REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE:
A CALL TO END FAKE CLINICS
On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was made public. At exactly this same moment in time, a group of seven Middlebury College students were participating in the first Public Feminism Fellowship, which focused on abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, and reproductive justice. This fellowship culminated in an art exhibit, which was displayed at Middlebury College during September 2022. Click on the following images to read the artists' statements about their work.
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Like many others, we followed the extensive media coverage of Roe’s reversal, we read companies’ public statements that they would cover the cost of abortion travel for their employees, and we protested. We also noticed that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) were rarely mentioned in the conversations about abortion—even though CPCs are central to the U.S. abortion story.
CPCs are religiously motivated, anti-abortion non-profit organizations that function as the backbone of the anti-abortion movement. Critics describe these unregulated centers as “fake clinics.” Their key goal is to prevent what they call “abortion-minded women” from obtaining abortions. Scholars have demonstrated the deceptive tactics CPCs use to reach their goals: disguising their political and religious motivations, including through giving themselves neutral-sounding names; implying they offer abortions when they do not; opening near abortion clinics or in former abortion clinics with the intention of confusing, and thus hijacking, those en route to clinics; and peddling false medical information. Scholars found that 80% of CPC websites include false or misleading medical information, including that abortion leads to breast cancer, infertility, and mental health issues, among other claims repeatedly proven false. Today, there are more than 2600 CPCs in the U.S. and just 700 abortion clinics—numbers that were reversed in the 1980s. More volunteers, volunteer hours, and resources go toward CPCs than all other forms of anti-abortion activism combined.
CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS
Our learning about CPCs was grounded in the principles of reproductive justice, a concept Loretta Ross developed in conjunction with fellow Black feminist activists, to assert that reproductive health is a social justice issue, and further, to push feminists to see issues other than the legal right to abortion as crucial reproductive concerns. Doing so requires fighting against the racism, sexism, classism and ableism that makes both parenting and accessing abortion more difficult for some than others.
This Public Feminism Fellowship was an opportunity to gain knowledge about CPCs, discuss reproductive justice through the lens of feminist and queer theory, and, perhaps most importantly, speak up by creating art. The result of our work is this exhibit—a translation of the theoretical into the material, an invitation into our conversations, and, we hope, a source of inspiration to fight for a reproductively just world in creative new ways.
THANK YOU !
Organized, facilitated, and made possible through Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and The Feminist Resource Center at Chellis House at Middlebury College. We are grateful to the Gensler Family for their ongoing support.