"Hello, please come in." As you greet the client and her friend, you remember the call that initiated this appointment and the peculiar circumstances surrounding this pregnancy—rape and maternal epilepsy—with a strong insistence that "abortion is the only answer." During the intake session, one person is definitely the talker, and the other is the quiet, observant type. It seems odd that so many questions are being asked about your center's procedures, etc., and you notice that the client's companion seems intent on collecting brochures.
Praying for discernment, you wonder if these two visitors could possibly be NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) representatives. Since your director has already discussed NARAL's CPC Campaign, you feel equipped to unashamedly represent Christ and to explain your center's resources, all with a desire to reach the hearts of these visitors.
NARAL's CPC Campaign was outlined in their guide entitled, "A Step-by-Step Guide/Unmasking Fake Clinics" (no longer available), which suggested that their volunteer investigators:
bring no identification to the CPC
use a fictitious last name, address, and phone number
bring a friend to gather written material and to be a second "witness"
pose as interracial partners, to hopefully detect differential treatment
pose as students preparing reports
use written phone scripts
bring a tape recorder into the counseling session
talk about major medical or financial difficulties
insist that abortion is the only option to the "crisis pregnancy"
Susan DaRosa, Director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Pensacola, Florida, trains her staff to be ready for these types of situations by using the excellent resource, "Serving Clients with Care and Integrity ... A Step-by-Step Guide for Responding to NARAL's CPC Campaign." The following are several examples of the helpful suggestions in this resource:
"The best way to respond ... is to assure that all of your center's interactions with clients are undertaken with care and integrity."
"Although it is prudent to equip your staff to recognize fake clients, it is also important not to instill unnecessary fear."
"Even though a fake client may be treated the same as a genuine client, it is important to document these incidents."
Susan realizes that her center is one that possibly has been visited by NARAL. Several telephone calls and client visits have seemed to be "by script." Recently, two university students visited the PRC to gather information for a debate on abortion. They had hoped to tape the conversation, but Susan informed them beforehand that that would be against policy. She was glad to grant the interview, though she felt it was wise to ask the visitors to sign an acknowledgment form and to have another staff member attend the meeting as well.
One student was talkative and seemed "overly informed." The other appeared somewhat nervous, avoiding eye contact, though she did take some notes. Susan sensed something "below the surface," but she came away from the encounter very positive about the opportunity to minister to these young people.
Delores Wolterstorff, Executive Director of the Modesto Pregnancy Center in Modesto, California, states, "To our knowledge we have not had any calls or visits from NARAL. At times, some of the calls sound like they could be someone 'testing' us. We have trained all of our staff and volunteers to tell the truth about our services when they answer the telephone. Our counselors have all had appointments with our Client Services Director concerning NARAL," and they "watch the Legal Care video from Care Net, which also has a study guide with it."
Carrie Libonati, Director of Client Services of the Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, says, "We are not aware that any of our centers (or) clinics have ever had any 'fake clients.' We train each volunteer to be loving, respectful, and truthful with all people who come in—and that's our focus. We want to approach everyone with integrity, so we would not need to worry about whether the client is for real or not."
Whether or not your center has suspected calls or visits to be from NARAL, it is wise to realize that this is a spiritual battle—one for which preparation, rather than passivity, is needed. Pray for discernment. If you sense that you are indeed in an encounter with someone who is not who they say they are, you can divert any deceptive plans by: sharing Christ with that visitor, reaching and loving her with your commitment to compassionate service; helping her to understand that each life, including the unborn child, is precious and worth preserving and that harmful choices are many times terribly regretted; documenting the visit, reporting any concerns to your director; and increasing your awareness of any NARAL activity at local centers, thereby decreasing NARAL's effectiveness to work undetected.
NARAL's CPC Campaign has brought many wonderful opportunities to our centers. Our God is going before us and is making a way for His purposes to prevail. He maneuvers these types of situations to bring ultimate glory to Himself "because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Linda Burris volunteers at a PRC in Florida. She can be contacted at DonnisB@peoplepc.com.