Media outlets and women’s magazines are advertising Planned Parenthood's new app that connects women to abortion clinics. And, not surprisingly, they’re overlooking pro-life apps in the process – apps which do exist.
In mid-November, Planned Parenthood announced the launch of its “abortion access tool” called “Abortion Care Finder.” Available online and as a phone app, the tool gives clients as young as 13 years old information about “options, any state requirements, and the nearest Planned Parenthood health centers where they can access a safe, legal abortion.”
To locate an abortion clinic, all Planned Parenthood requires is a woman’s age, zip code, and first day of her last period.
As Planned Parenthood's acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill blamed the need for the app on Republicans.
“Across the country, the Trump administration and other politicians are attempting to create a reality in which safe and legal abortion services are out of reach,” she said in a statement. That conflicted with Planned Parenthood’s commitment, as she described it, “to providing high-quality health care” including “safe, legal abortion.”
Except that abortion, by its very definition, should never be associated with health care. Health care saves lives; abortion destroys them.
The irony, predictably, didn’t stop the media from generously quoting McGill. The New York Times's headline on the app declared, “Planned Parenthood Launches Online Tool as Restrictions Come ‘Fast and Furious.’”
The “Fast and Furious” quote came from McGill, who warned the Times that “Restrictions [on abortion] have just been coming so fast and furious.”
A theme of panic surfaced throughout media reports about the app.
On November 14, Elle magazine fellow Savannah Walsh urged that Planned Parenthood’s new tool was responding to “an increase in searches” for “abortions near me” on its website during a time when “the government continues to strip away women’s reproductive rights.”
Reporter Dominique Mosbergen worried in HuffPost the same day that a “wave of anti-abortion fervor, coupled with the passage this year of more than two dozen abortion bans in 12 states, has left many women afraid and unsure of their abortion care options.”
For Bustle, reporter Jo Yurcaba agreed.
“The recent slew of anti-abortion restrictions have created widespread confusion about where and how far along in pregnancy abortion is available across the country,” Yurcaba wrote on November 12.
“[I]njunctions and other court decisions that affect abortion laws often aren't something that the average person keeps up with, making it hard for many people to know what abortion access is like in their state,” Yurcaba continued. “The Abortion Care Finder will help address that problem while also giving people information about the care they need.”
Likewise, Marie Lodi wrote for The Cut on November 13: “This past year, the abortion rights of women throughout the country have been threatened by lawmakers hellbent on denying them the right of their own bodily autonomy.
But pro-life groups responded differently to the news.
“Planned Parenthood has an app to help you find an abortion,” Students for Life tweeted out on November 14. But, they added, the “pro-life movement has multiple apps to help you find housing, medical care, job training, counseling, and financial assistance.”
In other words, they were far ahead of the nation’s largest abortion provider on this front. The pro-life organization concluded, “This tells you a lot about which one really supports women and families.”
Among others, those apps and sites include Care Net, Obria, OptionLine, Heartbeat International and Students for Life’s new Pregnant on Campus site. Many of them share locations of pregnancy centers based on either zip code or state.
While the media are quick to either ignore pregnancy centers or condemn them as “fake,” these centers provide pregnant women and new moms with free resources including housing, medical supplies, adoption information, clothing, childcare, and educational classes.
Abortion tells women they can’t – they can’t have a child and succeed. But the pro-life movement says that women can. Women can give birth and choose adoption. Women can raise a child and pursue an education or career. Women can have a family and lead a fulfilling life.
The media shouldn’t shy away from informing women: Abortion apps aren’t the only ones out there. Abortion isn’t the only option.