Bethany Christian Services Received $3 Million in Federal Money in 2009

Following up our blog post on crisis pregnancy centers, an American Prospect blogger reports that Bethany Christian Services, one of the centers whose coercive practices were exposed in a Nation article earlier this year, received $3 million in federal money in 2009.

To remind you about how Bethany and other CPCs treat pregnant women, here’s a snippet from our earlier post:

Joyce recounts the story of Carol Jordan (a pseudonym), a single woman who, upon becoming pregnant and deciding against abortion, visited Bethany Christian Services, a crisis pregnancy center in South Carolina which offered free counseling. Bethany, it turns out, is also the nation’s largest adoption agency. Over a series of five counseling sessions, the staff at Bethany told Jordan that adoption was a win-win situation, as well as the only right choice for her. A counselor then encouraged Jordan to move into one of the center’s “shepherding family” homes, where she was placed with a family who referred to her as one of the center’s “relinquishing mothers,” despite the fact that Jordan had not yet decided whether she would give up her child for adoption.

At the home, Jordan had contact only with the center, and spent her days sifting through letters and photos from hopeful couples looking to adopt her child. Joyce notes that today, the “birthmother letters” are on Bethany’s website: 500 couples who pay $14,500 to $25,500 for a domestic infant adoption, vying for mothers’ attention with profuse praise of their “selflessness” and descriptions of the lifestyle they can offer.”

Jordan selected a couple who then attended the birth, along with her counselor and shepherding mother. The day after the birth, Jordan’s counselor surprised her with the information that fully open adoptions were not legal in South Carolina, so Jordan would never receive identifying information on the adoptive parents. By Joyce’s account, “Jordan cried all day and didn’t think she could relinquish the baby.” When she shared these feelings with her shepherding parents, and asked if she could bring her child to their home, they “refused, and chastised her sharply.” When she shared them with her counselor, the counselor brought the sobbing adoptive parents into her recovery room, and told her that if she didn’t give up her child now, “she’d end up homeless and lose the baby anyway.”

Jordan ended up signing the relinquish papers the next day. Distraught, Jordan quickly lost more than fifty pounds in the weeks after her surgery, but when she sought post-adoptive counseling from Bethany, the only person she was able to reach was her old shepherding mother, who had cruel words for her. “You’re the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock,” she said. “You have no right to grieve for this baby.”

It is unconscionable that such agencies are receiving federal money to shame young women into giving up their babies to more “worthy” families. If you object to this, please contact your senators and representative to let them know that this practice should not continue any longer.

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