Loyola students call out university for referring pregnant women to anti-choice propaganda clinic

Last week, Loyola University’s Students for Reproductive Justice began protesting the university Wellness Center for referring pregnant students to an anti-choice propaganda clinic containing “inaccurate medical information” regarding abortion and birth control via its website. Pregnant students researching their options on the website of Loyola’s Wellness Center are linked to The Women’s Center, a pro-life nonprofit organization, according to DNA Info Chicago. The organization was formerly known as Des Plaines Pro Life before taking on a far sneakier, more insidious name.

According to the website, abortions can cause “increased risks of breast cancer,” a myth widely propagated by the anti-choice movement that was wholly disproven by research by the nonpartisan National Cancer Institute. Additionally, it states as fact that most women experience “post abortion stress,” including drug addiction, “suicidal thoughts,” “abortion flashbacks” (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean), “sexual dysfunction,” and equates the morning after pill with a “medically induced abortion.” All of this information simply has no basis in science whatsoever. Abortion is also described as a process involving “scrap[ing] fetal parts out of the uterus,” rhetoric that is not only unnecessarily grotesque and graphic but deeply exaggerated.

Anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers are pretty much the bread and butter of the anti-choice movement, feeding vulnerable women in complex, difficult situations with lies about a medically safe procedure in an attempt to prevent women from seizing on their right to bodily autonomy.

That being said, the Students for Reproductive Justice at Loyola University don’t necessarily take issue with the existence of organizations that oppose abortion (although, obviously, spreading blatant lies is not cool), but with the fact that their school is referring students to one such organization as a legitimate option despite its medically inaccurate, emotionally manipulative content.

“They have all this information on here with no references — not a one,”  Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Medicine, told DNA Info Chicago of the website.

Loyola’s Students for Reproductive Justice met the campus Wellness Center weeks ago to request it remove a link to anti-choice crisis center Aid For Women because it inaccurately linked abortion to breast cancer and also characterized emergency contraception as medically-induced abortion. However, the link to Aid For Women was almost immediately switched with a link to The Women’s Center, which contains pretty much the same information.

It’s worth noting that Loyola is a private, Catholic institution and the idea of life beginning at conception is predominantly upheld by the Catholic community. But that fact alone by no means justifies holding students of all faiths and backgrounds to that world view and, in giving them inaccurate information about their medical options, denying them sufficient medical care. And ultimately, the religious orientation of Loyola is irrelevant to the fact that all organizations that claim to be resources for pregnant women should offer accurate information.

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CREDIT: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The existence of anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and their ability to prey on and deceive pregnant women are almost as much of a threat to abortion rights as TRAP laws by denying women the ability to make a medically accurate, informed choice. Instead, they’re told that most women who have abortions regret their choice (fact: 99 percent of women who have abortions don’t regret their choice), that abortion is dangerous and giving birth would be much safer (fact: women are 14 times more likely to die giving birth than having an abortion), and about a barely developed fetus’ capacity to feel pain (fact: there is, like, zero evidence of this). Fake crisis pregnancy centers additionally demonize Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of services (just 3 percent of which are abortion procedures) for women seeking birth control options and gynecological exams.

That Loyola’s Wellness Center agreed to remove one link recently could offer some hope that it would be willing to do so again. But this time around, hopefully The Women’s Center link will be switched out for one that, you know, doesn’t have identical, inaccurate content.