The primary mission of pregnancy resource centers is to dissuade women from choosing abortion. Reproductive health and rights advocates have asserted that these centers interfere in abortion decision making. However, the reasons pregnant women go to such centers and what they experience while there have not been examined.
Between June 2015 and June 2017, in‐depth, semistructured phone interviews were conducted with 21 pregnant women who had presented at prenatal care clinics in southern Louisiana and Baltimore, Maryland, and who had visited a pregnancy resource center. Topics covered in the interviews included reasons for visiting a center and the experience of the visit. Transcripts were analyzed first thematically and then using grounded theory.
Most of the women were low income and had not been considering abortion when they visited a pregnancy resource center. Respondents reported that they had gone to these centers for pregnancy‐related services, material goods and social support. They chose these centers because the resources were free, and they were largely satisfied with their experiences. Nonetheless, their receipt of services and goods was limited and often contingent on participation in the centers’ activities.
Pregnancy resource centers play a role in meeting the acute material and social needs of low‐income pregnant women. However, the constraints on the resources the centers offer mean that this support cannot be part of a reliable system of care. Advocates and policymakers should take a nuanced approach to regulating these centers and consider the reasons women visit them, especially low‐income women.
Katrina Kimport is associate professor, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco.