The city of Allentown, Pa., will soon consider an ordinance that bars law enforcement from investigating abortion-related crimes, places anti-free speech buffer zones around abortion centers and calls pregnancy centers purveyors of misinformation worthy of scrutiny.
Bright Hope Pregnancy Support Centers is an organization that currently operates two physical Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, as well as a maternity ward. One of these PRCs is located in Allentown. This pregnancy resource center is the only one within a 45-minute to hour radius, according to Jon Merwarth, CEO of BrightHope Pregnancy Support Centers, who spoke to Live Action News.
“We are their target”
When the Allentown City Council held a meeting regarding the ordinance, Merwarth was reportedly the only person representing a PRC, although several life advocates also attended to speak out against the buffer zone portion of the ordinance. the city. Seven members sit on the Allentown City Council, according to Merwarth, and five appeared to be in favor of the ordinance. There was no violence perpetrated by sidewalk advocates outside abortion centers in the area, Merwarth said. “So my question to the board is, what exactly are you trying to ban?” he said. “Are you trying to prevent a pregnant woman from learning resources she didn’t know about? »
Merwarth thinks that “board members’ ideas are already taken and they have the voices to do it,” adding, “They’re trying to define what we do. We are the only CRP in our area…so whatever the city council does in regards to pregnancy centers, we are their target. When Merwarth asked the council if they knew how many pregnancy centers were in the Allentown area (the correct answer being a), the board members would have no idea.
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The Allentown ordinance designates pregnancy centers as “limited-service pregnancy centers,” which Merwarth finds interesting. “The way they define it is a pregnancy center that doesn’t offer abortions or abortion referrals,” he said.
But when it comes to offering “limited services,” the abortion industry fits that bill. Abortion centers do not offer the services offered by CRPs, such as material goods, adoption assistance and housing. They don’t usually refer to pregnancy centers either. “We could definitely call them ‘limited’ too.” Merwarth told Live Action News: ‘The order states that any PRC Limited Service that gives misleading information, you can file a complaint against them, and every complaint will be investigated. We don’t misrepresent, we don’t give our customers anything false — it’s accurate and verified information. It won’t affect us like they might think, but what will happen is that we will get fake complaints. What will happen is that they will come with a recording device to make us say something that we wouldn’t normally say…. They won’t find out that we do what they say, but people will come, try their best, complain and lie. And our city council says [every report is] will be investigated.
“We tell people the truth about abortion”
Fake pregnancy center reviews have already flooded Google Reviews and Yelp; Sudden and unusually high volumes of activity on these sites indicated that the examination attempts were motivated by pro-abortion activism and not from genuine visitors to the centers. Most pro-abortion activists have never visited a PRC, but instead have taken as truth the word of activist groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America, which falsely claim that the practices and information disseminated by pregnancy centers are misleading – while ignoring the documented misinformation given to women by abortion centers.
“On our website, we actually list abortion — we say there are three options if you’re pregnant. The reason we’re doing this is because we’re educating about it,” Merwarth said. let’s tell people the truth about abortion, the medical possibilities, some of the possibilities of negative outcomes and the known fact that emotional issues can arise later…but we don’t refer to abortions and we don’t offer them.” He said added that the goal is to really inform women before they make a decision about their pregnancy.”When someone is looking for information about abortion, we want them to receive as much information as possible about this topic.”
And education is just one aspect of what women receive when they visit Bright Hope.
Education, not misinformation
Merwarth told Live Action News: “A sidewalk defender drove a woman to the PRC. She got her free ultrasound and after some time talking she decided she would keep her baby and she now comes to us for educational classes. With these, she earns credits that she can use to redeem baby supplies, car seats, formula, diapers, wipes, and more — so she builds this and she’s pregnant about 10 weeks now.
Part of educating women and families is also informing them about the development of their own unborn child. “We had a woman who was not from here but came here with the father of the baby, and he wanted her to have an abortion. But it was like a miracle – after she did the ultrasound, when they ran the numbers, they said the [baby’s due date was] on father’s birthday“recalls Merwarth. “Something in him clicked – it changed – and we scheduled a second ultrasound for later and they came back and decided to keep the baby and the parent. Now they come together for educational classes.
Merwarth noted that even Planned Parenthood sometimes sends women to Bright Hope. “I know it’s happened maybe once or twice in the last five years,” he said. “A woman is there, she changes her mind and starts to break down emotionally, so they sent her to Bright Hope…and we also have someone who showed up at Planned Parenthood with no money for an ultrasound, so Planned Parenthood sent it to us. because they know we don’t charge for ultrasounds.
When addressing the city council, Merwarth asked council members, “Would Planned Parenthood refer their people to us if they thought we were giving false information or mentioning to customers? They send people here. Would they do this if they thought we were providing misinformation? »
Merwarth wants the public to know that pregnancy resource centers are compassionate places that exist to serve women and families, to help them in times of need, no matter what they decide. “I make sure to say to our people, I want you to treat our clients in such a way that if they are going to have an abortion they feel like they can always come back to us if they feel we we can do something for them. … At a later date, if they feel that I need this resource, I want them to know that they will be welcome to come back here. And sometimes they do.
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