I’ll never forget *Gabriela. She was exceptionally well-mannered, sweet, and timid. Her voice quivered a bit when she first spoke—no doubt out of nervousness—but aside from that she was very self-assured.
Gabriela lived with her grandmother, *Lita, who had raised her since she was a baby. Her parents had been absent for most of her life. Lita would consent to an abortion if she could, but she wasn’t Gabriela’s legal guardian; this is why they called Jane’s Due Process.
As soon as Gabriela suspected a pregnancy (even before she called us), she went to the only resource she could find in her hometown—a crisis pregnancy center.
Crisis pregnancy centers are centers that prevent people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing abortion.
They spread misinformation about abortion and pregnancy in an attempt to coerce people into continuing their pregnancies. Despite not being a medical facility, the crisis pregnancy center performed a sonogram on Gabriela, showed her pictures of what her fetus might look like, and told her she was about 10 weeks along in her pregnancy.
Justifiably upset and confused, Gabriela told me that she had just started her period six months ago and it was so irregular that she didn’t even consider that she might be pregnant.
Texas law requires that:
- anyone seeking an abortion is required to have a sonogram at least 24 hours beforehand
- the same doctor who will perform the abortion must perform the sonogram
Thus, if someone visits a crisis pregnancy center and states that she wants an abortion, the crisis pregnancy center has no reason to perform a sonogram, and if they do, they should inform the patient that the sonogram is simply extracurricular—as in, it will not “count” under Texas law.
Yet, the volunteers at this center deceived Gabriela into believing that she was taking the proper steps to have a legal abortion.
After explaining to her why her sonogram didn’t “count”, Gabriela made her second sonogram appointment at a certified abortion clinic for two weeks out—the soonest they could fit her in.
As instructed, immediately after her sonogram appointment she called me back. “I’m 21 weeks pregnant,” she told me, “so I can’t have an abortion.” The crisis pregnancy center had intentionally lied to her about her own pregnancy.
Gabriela fell victim to the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers. Sadly, she isn’t the only pregnant person who has suffered from this abuse. In 2014, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas discovered that crisis pregnancy centers “take advantage of the mandatory ultrasound law to manipulate people into continuing their pregnancies, delay people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing health care services, deceive people to stop them from accessing accurate information about all their pregnancy options,” among several other issues. Gabriela’s local crisis pregnancy center targeted her and used specious tactics to prevent her from accessing timely medical care.
I talked through Gabriela’s very limited termination options with both Gabriela and her grandmother: she would need to travel to a clinic in New Mexico, and they would need to scrape together a few thousand dollars for the procedure.
Lita desperately wanted to help her granddaughter, despite her own reservations about abortion. Yet, money and resources were so tight that the possibility of traveling out of state, missing work, hotel and travel costs, and the price of the abortion were ultimately too much.
Despite any financial assistance from abortion funds, the barriers were simply too great.
Two days later Gabriela called me. “I guess I’ll have a baby,” she said.
Does this story outrage you? Us too. That’s why we’re working our best to ensure that teens never accidentally visit crisis pregnancy centers. We’ve upped our case management to make sure every single judicial bypass client is taken care of every step of the way. We’ve also added resources to our website so that teens have the proper information about abortion laws and legitimate clinics. Our goal is to never have another teen go through what Gabriela did.
We need you to make a difference.
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