The Associated Press Stylebook is now advising journalists to refer to crisis pregnancy centers as “anti-abortion counseling centers.” And that “anti-abortion” label is drawing strong criticism from a wide range of pro-life leaders. In a recent update to its style guide, the Associated Press recommends “avoiding potentially misleading terms such as pregnancy resource centers or pregnancy counseling centers.”
Instead, the Associated Press suggests using the terms "anti-abortion counseling centers," "crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortions," or “anti-abortion centers.” “These terms can be used for centers set up to divert or discourage women from having abortions, by using counseling, material support and/or housing in an effort to persuade women to bring their pregnancies to term,” the Stylebook says.
In an article from The Pilot, a Catholic newspaper, Care Net President and CEO Roland Warren said the AP Stylebook change comes across as biased journalism.
“Rather than sticking to a neutral term, it appears the AP has opted for terminology that favors the pro-choice movement’s strategy to discredit pregnancy centers,” he said.
“On substance, the Associated Press guide is pernicious,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, in The Daily Signal. The Lozier Institute is the research branch of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
“The aim of pregnancy help centers is just that, help,” Donovan said. “They are staffed by medical and counseling professionals and dedicated volunteers who provide an astounding array of free services to women facing unexpected pregnancy…The centers make plain that they do not offer abortion and do not regard it as a practice that benefits women and families.”
In The Pilot, Warren noted that the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI consider pregnancy centers, like abortion clinics, to be “reproductive health care facilities” per the protections afforded them under the 1994 Federal FACE Act.
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, “prohibits violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain or provide reproductive health services,” including at “pro-life pregnancy counseling services” as defined by the Justice Department.
“One would think that the AP would call us what we actually are, per the federal government's guidelines,” Warren said.
Kristi Hamrick, chief media and policy strategist at Students for Life of America, told Catholic News Agency that “the Associated Press shows itself to be tongue-tied with political correctness in trying to finesse how to explain organizations dedicated to public service.”
“Without any sense of irony, they want to call Pregnancy Resource Centers ‘anti-abortion centers,’ diminishing the love and support such nonprofits offer to mothers and their children, born and preborn,” Hamrick said.
In a Gospel Coalition video, Roland Warren explained how crisis pregnancy centers and the “compassionate care” they offer can help change the public’s perception about abortion.
“Life decisions need life support and pregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers are there to be that life support for someone who's facing a pregnancy decision to give them a compassionate alternative to abortion,” he said.
Meanwhile, Donovan, in The Daily Signal article, pointed out that crisis pregnancy centers help everyone with doors that are open to women who seek counseling and support after all forms of pregnancy loss.
“It is well past time that the AP Stylebook’s authors visit some of the thousands of thriving centers everywhere in the U.S. and get the guide back to a standard of high-quality reportorial content and ethics,” he said.