CHICAGO – A public university in Illinois is raising concern over a recently published online how-to guide that instructs health and social service providers how to assist residents in obtaining an abortion.
Accessing Abortion in Illinois was written and released by the University of Chicago’s Section of Family Planning and Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3). It presents in-depth detail on how healthcare officials can help women find and finance an abortion, while circumventing obstacles to obtaining that goal.
The guide also provides a values clarification exercise with an external link to a pro-choice website, produced by the National Abortion Federation, entitled The Abortion Option. Underneath this heading is a diagram of the many influences that affect the abortion decision.
“The following exercises are designed to help you critically examine the factors that might influence your beliefs about parenting, adoption, and abortion and, for some, your choice to become trained and to provide abortion services,” it reads. “Each woman with a pregnancy decision to make has to consider her obligations to herself, the impact of her decision on her family, partner and the children she already may have.”
Pro-choice organizations have applauded the university’s publication and its commitment to “reproductive rights.” According to The College Fix, “The University of Chicago is the only known university in the U.S. to perform abortions on campus.”
However, many Christian and pro-life groups are concerned by the university’s controversial publication and argue that it provides inaccurate, one-sided information that underestimates the risks and complications of abortion.
“The misrepresentation of facts continues in the abortion guide when it calls abortion ‘one of the safest and most common medical procedures…with less than a 2% risk of complications,'” Emily Zender, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life told Christian News Network. “However, it fails to note that in a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2011, ‘nearly 4,000 reports of abortion complications involving Illinois residents in 2009 were missing the required description.’”
Another contention posed by pro-life organizations is the abortion guide’s disparaging commentary on crisis pregnancy centers, claiming that they provide “misleading information.”
“The abortion guide states, ‘equal access to all pregnancy options is critical for individuals,’ but then condemns the 31 pregnancy resource centers across Illinois,” Zender lamented. “These centers provide free pregnancy resources including free ultrasounds, free pregnancy tests, free counseling, free maternity clothing and much more. Why would a guide that underscores the importance of access to all pregnancy resources, attack community-based non-profits that increase pregnancy options and healthcare access?”
In an online post entitled University of Chicago’s New Online ‘Abortion Guide’ Misleads Women, Zender calls upon Illinois residents to join her in urging the university “to return to its mission statement and empower women to ‘dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions,’ rather than spoon-feed women a one-sided political agenda.”
She states that the University of Chicago has not responded to her challenge to date, nor altered their publication, but simply reiterated that the guide was intended for healthcare officials.