The bumper stickers on the cars in the parking lot read, "Freedom Means Choice" and "Parenthood is Forever. Plan it." A locked door is labeled, "Ring bell to enter." A large white sign announces, "Private property. Employees and clients only. Others will be considered trespassers." Finally, on the only unlocked door on the facility of Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge, Inc. in Roanoke, Va., is the friendly logo of "Children's Home Society of Virginia." In a cool, dim waiting room are two service windows and above one a sign: "Pill pick-up only." A young lady enters, receives her birth-control pills, and is gone in less than three minutes. Meanwhile, a young couple, likely in high school, squirm with embarrassment as they fill out forms with questions to which they do not know the answers. "I guess I'll put you for this one," the girl says to her boyfriend, who slouches on the black leather bench, his arm stretched behind her. Adoption is nowhere mentioned, but David Nova, director of Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge, Inc., beams with pride as he describes how the abortion clinic is now offering adoption services on site, the first of 900 Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide to do so. A new, larger building is slated to open in January 2000. "It will be an operationally pro-choice facility," he explains. "We will provide adoption, abortion, and prenatal care." The board of what is now Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge began discussing offering adoption services with the Children's Home Society of Virginia in 1991. The Children's Home Society has its name on the door and a counselor on site every Tuesday. Planned Parenthood receives a dollar for every client it refers to the Home Society. Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge has referred women to Children's Home Society in the past, says Marcia Shernoff, Resource Center Coordinator at Planned Parenthood: "It's a good fit. They won't hassle a woman who chooses something other than adoption." Joint training for the two organizations, to help them work together, is funded by a grant from a local Episcopal church. In the resource library, Janet McDowell, with a Ph.D. in biomedical ethics, shows off books and tapes and describes in-class presentations to elementary-school students. The back-straining "empathy belly" (weighted in all the right places) and "Baby Think-It-Over" (a life-size doll who cries at realistically random intervals for feedings, diaper changes, and no apparent reason at all) give young women a small sense of the physical requirements of pregnancy and parenting. Books encourage tolerance of homosexuality-"a natural attraction." Curricula explain and diagram everything a grade-school student might think to ask about sexuality, and more. "We are responding to what clients ask for," insists Ms. McDowell. Indeed, Planned Parenthood is doing its best to facilitate sex without pregnancy, conception without childbirth, and an illusion of responsibility without the burden of old-fashioned morality. And now the culture of death has put on a friendly face to offer the freedom to choose adoption-without any "pressure" to honor life as sacred.
-Laurel L. Cornell is a WORLD Journalism Institute student living in Roanoke, Va.