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As the name suggests, Swanson or a fellow volunteer will arrange to drive a woman to a clinic. She waits while the patient is prepped, operated on and led to the recovery area. Then, she drives her back home. That's it. Volunteers try to leave counseling to the clinics and political advocacy to the activists, although they usually are willing to lend a sympathetic ear.
Round-trip chauffeuring may seem almost absurdly basic as social services go, but when only the most feeble public support system exists for so fundamental a court-sanctioned right as abortion, sometimes the simple favors help the most.
"As with any surgical procedure, abortion clinics require their patients to be accompanied by someone who can wait around to drive them home," explains Swanson, a retired nurse. "The women we help often don't have their own transportation or someone to drive them."
One recent client was an 18-year-old whose husband abandoned her; she already has one young child and her strict Catholic mother had vowed to throw her out of the house if she gets pregnant again. Another was a middle-class Marietta woman who called the group simply because she couldn't imagine any friends or family members who'd be willing to support her decision to have an abortion.
Just last week, a Pennsylvania woman called to say she would be flying alone to Atlanta to end a 23-week pregnancy and needs a ride.
But the story that sticks with Swanson involved a 14-year-old rape victim in far northeast Georgia whose single mother didn't drive. Although Medicaid assistance is available in cases of rape -- more evidence of Georgia's relative liberality -- state health-care workers had failed to show up on two separate occasions to drive the girl and her mother to scheduled clinic appointments.
By the time the desperate mother found out about the Volunteer Drivers Network, her daughter's pregnancy was so far along that a two-day abortion procedure was necessary, which in turn required a long road trip across the state. The group ended up collecting donations to put the girl and her mother up in a local hotel.
In Georgia and elsewhere, however, roughly 86 percent of abortions take place within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After all, most women suspect they could be pregnant within the first month. At that point, where can a woman -- especially one who lives in rural Georgia -- turn for help?
How about the Yellow Pages, where the very first category is "abortion alternatives?" Or a sign down the street that reads, "Pregnant? Worried? Call us"? Or maybe the neighborhood building labeled "Pregnancy Help Center"? In all three cases, the woman will be in for a nasty surprise.
For the past two years, the National Abortion Rights Action League and its state affiliates have monitored the growth and tactics of so-called "crisis pregnancy centers."
Furnished to resemble a medical office, and often located within spitting distance of an actual abortion clinic, these faux facilities typically offer free pregnancy testing to lure unsuspecting women who are considering abortion.
Once inside, the would-be patient is subjected to a heavy-handed form of Christian intervention, complete with videos of dismembered fetuses and a serving of guilt, in an effort to make her change her mind, says Beth Cope, executive director of Georgia NARAL.
"They specifically engage in deceptive practices to get women into the 'clinic,'" Cope explains. "It's unfair to women who are already very upset."
Before she joined Georgians for Choice, Vuley went to several local crisis pregnancy centers as part of the NARAL investigation. At the first one she visited, in Tucker, Vuley says, she was locked in a room with a staff member's young daughter after being told it would take half an hour to determine the results of her pregnancy test -- the same kind of inexpensive, off-the-shelf test that shows results within a few seconds.
While she waited, graphic images played across a video screen, prompting the girl sitting next to her to happily chant, "Baby pieces! Baby pieces!" Vuley says she couldn't wait to leave.
"For some women, going to a crisis pregnancy center simply makes them angry that someone has tricked them," Vuley says, "and more determined to make up their own mind."
Swanson further argues that all crisis pregnancy centers are implicitly founded on a faulty premise: namely, that if you can get a woman to walk through your door, you can convince her to carry an unwanted baby to term and, it is to be hoped, raise the child to be a productive, God-fearing member of society.
"In my experience, the women who come to clinics are almost always very certain about their decision," she says.
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