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Saturday, November 24, 2012

We can help you?

Working at the clinic today we had two people standing at the driveway screaming at patients, "MOTHER, WE CAN HELP YOU!" (Trying to convince these women not to terminate a pregnancy). One of the people screaming this was a kid that couldn't have been over 14 years old. The other was a little blond lady - I found out later she's a veterinarian.

So... what did they mean? Next time I'll ask them to be specific and see if I can find out what they actually DO mean, but let's try and break down the possibilities first.

1. Did they mean they could help by praying for the mother? Well, to be honest, they don't need to be screaming at her across a parking lot to do that so probably not.

2. Did they mean, "We can help you with prenatal care?" This is an easy and semi-inexpensive assumption given a normal pregnancy. I mean, you're talking some checkups, vitamins, just a few extra things for a non-complicated birth. Let's estimate this at $2,000 max. And hold that thought.

3. Did they mean, "We can help you with the childbirth?" By helping in this sense, I'm going to assume they mean financially. So let's take this possibility and reason it out. The cost of childbirth alone, in a hospital, is around $9,500 for a non-complicated vaginal birth and $15,000 for non-complicated C-section (http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/cost-of-having-a-baby?page=3). So do we then infer that this little 14-year old boy and this blond woman are offering the patient at least $9,000 to have her baby? Maybe. Or maybe they're there on behalf of an organization that is offering that amount for the woman to help her with childbirth. Let's hold that thought as well.

4. Did they mean, "We can help you with the child's care/cost for his/her entire childhood and adolescence?" Unlikely, but let's consider it. According to Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/03/24/us-usa-children-idUSN2431320820080324) a baby born in 2007 cost approximately $205,000 to raise until its 18th birthday. Now, that is just an estimation - and all the factors included in that estimation are mentioned in the article - but let's undercut that estimation and assume $150,000 for a lower-income family, spread across 18 years of life. So are these "helpful" protestors offering $150,000 to that mother to raise the child? Maybe so. But maybe there is more.

5. Did they mean, "We can help you with the lost wages from your job due to time off for prenatal care, childbirth, maternity leave, child sick leave, school appointments, college visits, and every other time you need to miss work to care for the child?" Probably not, but it's still a remote possibility I guess. I don't know how to effectively estimate this without losing people due to math bore, but let's just say that over 18 years + 9 months, it'd get pretty significant. And let's call to attention as well that right now, women earn only 77 cents to every dollar that men earn, so if this mother is single or is the primary income for the household, her wage is that much smaller already.

6. Did they mean, "We can help you with child care for the children you already have, help you prepare meals for them that are nourishing, keep your house clean, your cars working, and make sure you have at least a decent shot at a good quality of life?" This one is non-quantifiable, really - but my guess here is no, they did not mean this. And my reason for concluding that "no" is that generally speaking these people tend to only think of the fetus. I allow that I may be wrong here, but I believe that chance is tiny.

So let's add this up then. To those people who yelled at this patient across a parking lot offering help, the potential "help" they were offering this potential mother adds up to:
Prenatal care: $2000
Childbirth: $9500 min, $15000 max
Childhood: $150000 min
Lost wages**: $12,000 approx.

Not including point 6, that's $173,500 minimum that they're offering to this one woman.

Extrapolate that to include the number of terminations being offered at the clinic that day - let's say around 10 - because these protestors scream the same thing at every woman entering the clinic. So for 10 patients, to "Help" the mother, that's $1.7 million.

Almost two million dollars these two protestors are offering on just one Saturday in November. Think about that total for a second. With two million dollars, what else could these protestors do?

  • They could pay medical bills for children - already alive and suffering - whose parents cannot afford to do so.
  • They could put at least 10 homeless veterans in homes, and provide them with the means to care for themselves.
  • They could fund the local food bank for years.
  • They could adopt multiple children who are already born and looking for homes.
  • They could fund college educations for children who are already born, and are in the care of the government because they have not been adopted.

They could, but they don't.

Instead they spend hours standing outside a clinic, yelling at women - they bully them. Do they really believe they are helping? Would they really follow through with the points above if a women DID accept help? I intend to ask, next time the situation arises, but what do you think? What do the protestors mean when they are offering help?

**[On Lost Wages] Let's assume $37,000/year job (http://www.catalyst.org/publication/217/womens-earnings-and-income) of which she takes off five days per year total (a very much conservative estimate) for child care etc, for 18 years. Assume no wage change to account for raises, for simplicity. Allow for 260 business days per year (does not include bank holidays). This equates to a rate of $142.30/business day. 5 days each year for 18 years is 90 days of lost wages, or $12,807.


  1. One other thing I forgot to mention... These people shouting "We can help you" to a woman who's decided to terminate a pregnancy are really just lying. She wants a termination - they don't want her to have one. So no, in that case, they absolutely cannot help her.

  2. The anti-choicers don't really care about what happens after a child is born. When they offer "help" they are just trying to shame the woman out of doing what she has already decided to do. I don't think they give a shit about what happens after childbirth, and "you're on your own" to raise the child that you didn't want.

  3. Very well written. This is a point I have been trying to make, but I don't think I could have written it as well as you have.

    And as a side note: the day that I escorted with you, I asked the little kid that was yelling, "We can help you!" just how he intended to help. He claimed he could get her a job. I asked him if he had a job. He said, "No, but I can help her look for one."
    Just how judgmental and ignorant do you have to be to assume that every woman at the clinic is not only unemployed but doesn't even know how to look for a job?

  4. Having been an escort for a while, I have a pretty good idea what they mean by "Help". They want to take you to a pregnancy crisis center for an ultrasound and counselling (both free). Now I have a big problem with this "Help".

    First, pregnancy crisis centers, are not real clinics. They are not regulated by the state dept of health. The doctors, nurses, and counsellors do not have to be licensed or regulated.

    Second, any medical procedures you accept from them should be suspect. Since these centers generally operate as non-profit, and frequently run by volunteers, your chances of getting an accurate ultrasound by a trained technician, is almost none.

    Third, you cannot take any legal action against them if they lie to you, or give you bad advise.

    If you are thinking of visiting one of these places, don't waste your time. Please seek the advice of a real doctor at a real clinic.