By Emily Loen, Abortion Access Hackathon
Fake women's health centers like to keep up appearances. To the general public, they claim to be a safe, neutral place to talk over an unplanned pregnancy. Privately, they deceive pregnant people. Once inside, clients are met with the lie that abortion causes cancer, clients are pressured to carry to term, and shamed.
Most fake women's health centers do not want to be associated with passive aggressive, noxious abortion clinic protesters.
When asked about their close ties, one Sacramento based center openly lied. This kind of deception is not only dishonorable, but dangerous to clients who expect to receive unbiased medical advice.
40 Days of Harassholes
Valentine's Day begins the biannual "40 Days for Life" harassment campaign by protesters standing on street corners pleading with low-income women heading into the doctor's office. 40 Days for Life is a national organizing body that directs local chapters to abortion clinic sidewalks. CA chapters boast protests up and down the state.
As California prepares for the Supreme Court case determining its right to regulate pregnancy health care services, Sacramento grapples with a messy trifecta of protesters, fake women's health centers, and hidden agendas.
Daily protesters dot the sidewalks of Sacramento's known abortion providers. Holding signs with the phone number for the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, a nearby center that tries to dissuade people from abortion, they actively try to speak to anyone walking in. The protesters show off caricatures of baby dolls. They hope to send a person to the SVP Clinic for which they advertise.
SVP welcomes pregnant people, and publicly claims to have no agenda. Yet, SVP lies to pregnant people, saying abortion leads to breast cancer (not true, according to the American Cancer Society), refuses to refer people to all-options providers, and refuses to dispense preventive birth control.
Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic Claims No Protester Connection, Despite Proof
Here's where things don't add up. Marie Leatherby, Executive Director of the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, is part of the family that runs the Leatherby's Family Creamery, a local ice cream shop. They regularly hold fundraisers for the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic (video) and its parent organization, the Sacramento Life Center.
Leatherby's ALSO privately rewards abortion clinic protesters. The Sacramento "40 Days for Life" email newsletter incentivizes protests with Leatherby's commitment of free sodas if you tell staff you've been on the sidewalks.
When brought to her attention, Executive Director Marie Leatherby lied through her teeth, writing in a Sacramento News and Review Op-Ed, " The strange misnomer that my family’s long-respected ice cream business somehow has a policy offering free sodas to pro-life protesters is also inaccurate." Yet, here is the email, dated April 3, 2011.
Fake Women's Health Centers are Protester Funded
Protesters donate to the Sacramento Valley Life Center.
Susan Money, donor "Herald of Life $1,500-$2,500"
Susan Money's photo is the profile photo of Sacramento's 40 Days for Life campaign. She has been on the sidewalks since at least 2012.
Fake Women's Health Centers Endorse Sidewalk Harassment
Witnessing to Hope 2013 was a "sidewalk training" evening for folks interested in demonstrating at abortion clinics. Wynette Sills, leader of protest group "40 Days for Life Sacramento" and Debora Heinrichs, hotline co-ordinator with Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic, offered tips and tools on how to protest abortion providers. Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic Executive Director Marie Leatherby maintains there is no connection to protesters.
By publicly denying the strong private connection to protesters, the Sacramento Valley Life Center and Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic continue to deceive the public.
Though the Sacramento Valley Pregnancy Clinic claims most of their clients are, "not looking for an abortion provider, " they aren't taking any chances.