By Zoe Krause
On September 24, Thrive, one of St. Louis’ largest crisis pregnancy centers, had a high-dollar fundraiser featuring a guest speaker from the Radiance Foundation, infamous for rhetoric targeting Black women.
#ShowMeRJ activists were there to greet attendees with our demand for accountability.
Crisis pregnancy centers like Thrive traffic in shaming people who have sex and seek reproductive, contraceptive, and abortion care. These deceptive centers operate without legitimate regulation, often on Missouri taxpayers’ dime, and use deceptive tactics, misinformation, and often outright lies in their effort to shame and discourage people trying to access abortion care.
Thrive is a multi-million dollar operation which receives a tax credit from Missouri. They provide a limited range of testing for sexually transmitted infections, and something they call “abortion information.” They do not provide or refer for birth control, emergency contraception, or abortion services, even though they claim to provide “women’s healthcare.” Digging into their “sex education” curriculum reveals a program based on shaming young people about their sexual lives, rather than providing medically accurate information about ways to protect against sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.
For Saturday’s cushy fundraiser, Thrive invited “pro-life” big wigs from the Radiance Foundation, an organization whose Twitter feed reveals their vitriolic transphobia, frequent comparisons of LGBTQI+ folks to “fascists,” and constant rhetoric shaming Black folks seeking abortion care.
Bringing guests from the Radiance Foundation reveals the ideology underscoring the work of organizations like Thrive: shame, exclusivity and hatred.
Everyone deserves access to all the information and resources necessary to live out their sexual and reproductive lives with freedom and dignity, including decisions about ending a pregnancy. Yet in Missouri, state legislators extend tax credits to sham organizations with multi-million dollar incomes that exist to deceive young folks about sex, spread misinformation about abortion care, and ground themselves in hate and bigotry. As we demand accountability from state lawmakers who misuse taxpayer funds to carry out witch hunts against abortion providers, we also demand accountability from organizations like Thrive who spread lies and misinformation on our dime.
While we mostly got quiet glares during our short protest, some folks did engage with us and those who did demonstrated the same willingness to make harsh judgements about people they don’t know because of their presumed sexual immorality.