Although it is two years old, an article by Time magazine on crisis pregnancy centers titled “The Grass-Roots Abortion War” is quite telling. It is telling because although most abortion opponents claim to want abortions to be “safe, legal, and rare,” they question the legitimacy and methods of crisis pregnancy centers. CPCs provide women with free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds and help with baby food, diapers, and clothing. Consider the following:

About half of American women will face an unplanned pregnancy, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, and at current rates more than one-third will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, no other issue has so contorted U.S. politics or confounded values. When does life begin? Who should decide? And is there anything that can be agreed on to make the hard choices less painful? Much of the antiabortion movement remains focused on changing laws, tightening restrictions one by one, state by state. But [CPC leaders and volunteers] talk of changing hearts. They are part of a whole other strategy that is more personal and more pastoral, although to some people it’s every bit as controversial.

It’s easy to support the goal: helping women facing an unplanned pregnancy. What critics challenge are the means, the information these centers give, the methods they use and the costs they ignore. . . .

The movement toward “medicalizing” the centers particularly concerns groups like Planned Parenthood that define their mission as offering the most accurate information about the most complete range of reproductive options. The motive behind offering free ultrasounds, which would typically cost at least $100, is more emotional than medical, critics argue, and having them performed by people with limited training and moral agendas poses all kinds of hazards. “What is really tragic to me is that a woman goes into a center looking for information, looking to be able to make a better, healthy choice, and she doesn’t get all the facts,” argues Christopher Hollis, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for governmental and political affairs in North Carolina. “That’s taking someone’s life and playing a really dangerous game with it.”

I find the last quote especially ironic, since untold numbers of lives are taken at Planned Parenthood clinics every day.

I think CPCs play an important role in reaching out to women in the community at an especially vulnerable time and showing them the love of Christ. I also believe churches should consider supporting a local CPC, if that CPC is focused on sharing the gospel with women as well as helping them face unplanned pregnancies. Our church supports Alpha Women’s Center in Des Moines.

Do you think churches should support a CPC? Does your church support one?