Thursday, January 20, 2005

Questions and Answers About Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Questions and Answers About Pregnancy Resource Centers
The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched the first in a series of legal attacks on CPCs in the mid-1980's. Then, in lawsuits extending through the mid-1990s, Planned Parenthood and the Abortion Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America) leveraged deceptive or ethically questionable practices used CPCs in that time-such as showing graphic abortion videos and the use of home pregnancy tests-to label all CPCs as  "deceptive" and "fake medical clinics".

From the pro-life perspective:
"Pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), are agencies staffed with caring (volunteer) individuals who want to help you through this most challenging time in your life. Most centers are funded by private donations, and a few are supported by local churches. Many centers are medical clinics with a full range of free services. The staff are non-judgmental and most are volunteers who give of their time because they care about you."(1) There are as many as 4,000 CPCs in the United States (2), compared to 2,000 abortion providers (3)

Concern #1:
These Are Not Licensed Medical Clinics Nor Do They Provide Complete Reproductive Health Care Options
Are these those "fake clinics"? "Usually the only "service" offered is anti-abortion counseling, and most such centers have no medically trained or medically supervised personnel."(4)

Pregnancy help centers do provide information on abortion risks and procedures, but do not provide or refer for abortion services. Pregnancy help centers are generally social service organizations, although there are some which in do in fact offer limited medical services and professional counseling services: primarily pregnancy testing and limited ultrasound;  STD prevention and testing, limited pre-natal care,; and the same general services as a non-medical center, including parenting and childbirth classes; nutritional counseling; material items (see Earn While You Learn program below); and referrals to public and private agencies for assistance such as Medicaid, the Woman, Infants, and Child (WIC) program, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), homeless and battered women shelters, and for health care. In fact, there are currently 572 centers which offer medical services (5). According to NIFLA, who heads up the changes of a pregnancy resource center to become a medical clinic, 'To do so, the center must be a licensed medical clinic under the laws of the state in which it operates. Unless dictated otherwise by state statutory regulations, a "medical clinic" is defined as a facility which provides medical services under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician.'(6) "50 percent of the 1,800 centers that are affiliated with Heartbeat International are licensed through a physician or by the state where it operates and that medical professionals conduct ultrasounds, if a client signs paperwork to confirm she voluntarily agrees to the procedure." says Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, a network of Christian pro-life pregnancy resource centers(12). A positive urine or blodd pregnancy test will be a medical indication for an ultrasound to A)detect an intrauterine pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy, B)detect fetal heartbeat, and C)determine fetal age, The sonographers are trained medical professionals operating under the standing orders of a physician. The scans are read by qualified physicians. Melinda Delahoyde, president of Care Net, also a Christian pro-life organization that supports a network of more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers across the country, said that Care Net has a national medical director and a medical advisory board made up of obstetricians and other health care professionals.(12)

Concern #2:
CPCs Use Misleading Names/AdvertisingCPCs have a long history of deception. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. "They falsely suggest or promise a full range of reproductive health services. They list themselves in the yellow pages of telephone directories under any or all of the following headings:

Abortion Alternatives
Abortion Services
Birth Control Information Centers
Clinics, Medical
Family Planning Information Centers
Social Service Organizations, and
Women's Organizations"(4)
 "In a 1989 report, the Family Research Council showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words "Pregnancy," "Medical," "Women's Centers" and "Clinics."(5)

Due to false advertising lawsuits nearly 20 yrs ago (also the date cited for these charges), pregnancy resource centers are now legally advised to advertise only under "abortion alternatives". Telephone companies determine in which categories organizations and businesses are categorized. Any concerns regarding phonebook layout should be directed to your local telephone service provider. "To my knowledge, except in cases where the Yellow Pages puts them under the wrong heading-which does happen-we stay clean and stay out of their category," said Kurt Entsminger, general counsel for CareNet, one of the nation's largest CPC chains..."Any pregnancy center that intentionally put itself under the wrong heading would definitely be going off the reservation as far as our standards are concerned." (8)

Concern #3:
CPCs Withhold Information and Misinform About the Result of the Pregnancy Tests
"They offer free pregnancy tests but give ambiguous answers about the results. In fact, the Pearson Foundation manual, HOW TO START AND OPERATE YOUR OWN PROLIFE OUTREACH CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTER, urges anti-abortion counselors to give deceptive answers. For example, it cautions, "Do not tell the client that she is or is not pregnant." Instead, counselors are advised to only say whether test results are positive or negative. In California, two weeks after a woman was led to believe by an anti-abortion counseling center that she was not pregnant, she had to undergo emergency surgery and could have died when her undiagnosed tubal pregnancy burst. On the other hand, women who are not pregnant are often led to believe they are pregnant so they will be more available for anti-abortion indoctrination."(4)

The first CPCs were founded in the early 1970s following the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion) and were found by conservative religious groups such as the Pearson Foundation (founded by Robert Pearson) In 1984, the Pearson Foundation manual, "How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach Crisis Pregnancy Center", was published and many CPCs were run according to the principles until the mid-1990's, when in their zeal to prevent abortion, they over-reached legally, and were cut down by lawsuits.  The Pearson Foundation has been disbanded for some time now and centers affiliated with national organizations (such as Birthright and CareNet) have developed their own guidelines and no longer use guidelines and principles from Pearson's 1984 manual.

Pregnancy resource centers should be considered primarily options counseling centers. A pregnancy resource center takes the client's history (contact information, number of previous pregnancies, age, and partner's involvement in her life), talks to her about her options (abortion, adoption, and parenting), and the woman indeed does receive a free pregnancy test. Standard procedure is to have the client herself preform a urine pregnancy test, similar to a home pregnancy test. Basically the home pregnancy test works on the same exact principle as the urine tests used by a doctor's office. A standard urine dipstick test takes 2-5 minutes to read. Standard procedure is for the client (and at some centers the counselor w/ the client present) to then read whether or not it was a positive or negative test. A home pregnancy test is not a diagnosis in itself. A pregnancy diagnosis can only be made by a physician preforming an examination and ultrasound in addition to the pregnancy test. Therefore the only result a non-medical pregnancy resource center can legitimately give is whether or not the test result is positive or negative. Pregnancy resource centers do provide referrals to physicians for a follow-up pregnancy test, pregnancy confirmation, prenatal care, general health care, and STD prevention/testing/treatment. The data of the case of the woman in California is inconclusive and documentation of that case is not provided. No matter the results of a home pregnancy test, all clients suspecting pregnancy should see their doctor to confirm a pregnancy.

The statement "[...]women who are not pregnant are often led to believe they are pregnant so they will be more available for anti-abortion indoctrination" is a political assertion not backed by documentation nor fact and should be considered politically motivated slander.

Concern #4: CPCs Provide Misleading and Inaccurate Medical Information and Use Shock Tactics
"They show shocking and deceptive films or slide shows that include pictures of mutilated fetuses and stillborn babies; the testimony of distraught women who claim that abortion caused them emotional disturbances and physical ailments; and distorted statistics about the medical and psychological consequences of abortion. Such films are shown as part of a half-hour "counseling" session which takes place while waiting for pregnancy test results results, which should be available within three minutes."(4)

Response: Educational information in the form of films and pamphlets on fetal development, abortion procedures/risks, parenting, adoption, and community resources are often offered to client. Go here to view digital copies of some of the booklets and brochures distributed to clients at CPCs.
The accusers here need prove the assertions true with substantial, unbiased evidence from medical textbooks or journals that a) the educational information is erroneous beyond a reasonable doubt and b) the people who asserted them did so with a deliberate intent to deceive. See this article for more on the use of graphic aides. The following are the client care practices for CareNet, Birthright, and Heartbeat centers. The client's verbal and/or written consent is sought before presenting the material to the client.  Should the client not wish to view such materials, she may decline without being denied further services. Every client should be shown how to turn off the video/CD and television, and the counselor stay with the client during the presentation. Should the client change her mind after consenting and decides that she doesn't want to see more, she may turn off the film or decline printed information and leave. In addition, while some independently run pregnancy resource centers may support the use of graphic images, however two large pregnancy resource center agencies, CareNet and Birthright International strongly discourage such practices in their centers:

...use "scare tactics" or pressure. abortion slides or pictures.
...picket or harass abortion clinics.
...lobby for legislative changes or engage in the public debate on abortion."(10)

"CareNet centers offer tender, compassionate care to any woman who is not prepared for pregnancy. The esteem care, compassion, and information she receives at a CareNet pregnancy care center will enable her to choose life for her baby. This philosophy of ministry requires centers to avoid actions and statements that may cause clients to experience emotional distress or trauma. If a client has not requested information about fetal development and/or abortion procedures and risks, it is best to obtain her verbal consent before a counselor discusses these topics with her. The counselor should note in the client's file that she gave permission. Permission should be requested in such a way that the client feels she has a choice. The client should never feel that
listening to facts about abortion or fetal development is a condition for other services."(9)

"We have regional consultants over various states and provinces, and it's their job to know what's going on in the centers," she said. "If we found out a policy wasn't being followed, we would immediately investigate." (8)

Concern #5: CPCs Should Not Evangelize or Use Religion To Influence Women's Decisions.
"They attempt to induce guilt by engaging women in discussions about their religious views and beliefs."(4))

Response:Some centers have religious affliations and some don't. CareNet is Christian based while Birthright is not. However, keep in mind many respectable non-profits have a religious affiliation. Some Christian based centers, with good intentions will offer to the discuss the woman or teen's religious beliefs as part of her inner (core) beliefs and decision making process. If religious information is offered and refused by the client, the decision is respected and the issue is pushed no further. Again, not all centers are the same, while there are centers which evangelize, there are those who do not. However,  people who make this claim are usually implying something further as well. Religiouis discrimination. No CPC will refuse a client on the basis of her religion.

Concern #6: 
CPCs Don't Provide Comprehensive Sexual Education"They refuse or fail to provide contraceptive information. The Pearson Foundation manual explicitly instructs counselors "never to counsel or refer for artificial contraceptives or sterilization." In fact, they advise unmarried women to abstain from sex, presenting abstinence as the only way to avoid further unwanted pregnancies."(4)

Again the Pearson Foundation manual is no longer used by most PRCs. However, they are right that these centers do not refer for contraceptive services. Many of these centers promote the benefits of abstinence to single individuals and couples, as abstinence has a 100% accuracy rate when used consistently and correctly, however abstinence takes dedication by both partners and practicing self control. Many of the centers do offer Fertility Awareness classes to married couples and/or encourage couples to seek contraceptive information from their physician. Number nine of the CareNet Pregnancy Care Center Statement of Principle states: "The pregnancy care center does not recommend, provide, or refer single woman for contraceptives. (Married women seeking contraceptive information should be urged to seek counsel, along with their husbands, from their pastor and physician.)"(11)

Contrary to popular belief, the rhythm method is no longer being taught at the Fertility Awareness classes. Rather than relying on mathematical equations and reliance of the patterns of previous cycles, as did the prior rhythm method, The Fertility Awareness Method does not rely on the theory of a 28 day cycle and ovulation on day 14. Instead the Fertility Awareness Method  " based on the observation and charting of scientifically proven fertility signs (waking temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical position) to determine whether or not a woman is fertile on any given day and can be used by those with irregular cycles.
For more information on this, please refer to the book, Taking Charge or Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

Concern #7: CPCs Are Misleading About the Extent of Their Services
CPCs Use Intimidation, Harassment, and Force to Dissuade Women From Having An Abortion.

"They make exaggerated promises of financial assistance, medical treatment, prenatal and postpartum care, adoption or child-care arrangements, and/or psychological counseling all in an effort to induce women to carry their pregnancies to term."(4)

a. "In Worcester, Massachusetts, an anti-abortion counseling center posted a sign on its door saying "PP Inc." to imply that it was the Planned Parenthood clinic. It then positioned its counselors in the corridors to harass women who were trying to reach the real Planned Parenthood facility. These practices were eventually stopped by court injunctions."(4)

b. "In San Francisco, a staff member of an anti-abortion counseling center is being sued for attempting to hide a pregnant teenager from her parents until she gave birth. The parents were told that the young woman was going to Europe on a special scholarship. Illegal arrangements for the adoption of the child were also being set up before she was reunited with her parents." (4)

c. "Some centers have been reported to go beyond abortion prevention as far as harassing a woman for months after she obtains her abortion. Some go to the length of informing the woman's parents or employers and make threatening, late night phone calls. They have called women on the date they would have delivered to point out their babies would have been born on that day. They then tell these
women that they are baby-killers."(4)

Response:a. This pregnancy resource center was wrong to falsely advertise itself.

b. We do not know the situation surrounding the pregnant teenager. Was she scared she was going to get kicked out of the house? Was she afraid her parents were going to be angry? Was she afraid of abusive parents or siblings? Did the teen desire to be hidden from her parents, meaning did she participate voluntarily? The information here is incomplete and draws a misleading conclusion.

c. The policies of Birthright, CareNet, and Hearbeat Centers require client confidentiality with the exceptions of 1)S/he is in immediate danger of harming herself/himself or another person 2)All pregnancy resource centers are required under law (just as any social service agency) to report any suspicions or known incidences of physical abuse/emotional abuse/neglect and statutory rape (as defined by individual state laws) to the local Child Protection Services agency. Also the policies of these organizations require the counselor to obtain the written consent and signature of the client for follow-up contact. It is important for a client to clearly indicate by writing (so it can be added to her file) if she does not want to be further contacted. In addition, I have yet to see documentation (phone records, harassment complaint, or police reports) of these incidences.

Concern #8:
CPCs Are Involved in Anti-Abortion Activism
As for claims towards political activism, on the part of Pregnancy Resource Centers, most are not in fact involved in political activism and with good reason: "Pregnancy  help centers that are exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) may not "participate in or intervene in (including the publishing and distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office." This prohibition is absolute. Under this rule centers may not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office. Failure to adhere to this rule could result in a tax assessment or even the loss of tax-exempt status (13).

About the "Earn While You Learn" Program:Most centers feature clothing rooms, which are a department store-like resource center for supplementary material goods such as baby furniture, car safety seats, diapers, hygiene items, blankets and crib bedding, formula/baby food, and new and gently used infant/toddler clothes.Clients are able to make purchases by using "Mommy Money" that is earned by attending  'Earn and Learn'  classes. 'Earn and Learn' classes include pregnancy, prenatal development, delivery and postpartum care, the emotional needs and physical care of a newborn/toddler/school-aged child, first aid, parenting skills, financial management, job preparation and other life skills. Not only does this program provide clients with the material things they need for their babies, but also teaches them valuable life skills and gives them independence and a sense of self-worth.The centers are non-profit and dependent upon donations from the community and most have a limited supply of furniture, clothing, and other material items. All items have been generously donated or purchased with funds donated by individuals, local churches, and community organizations. The types and amount of supplies they have available varies from week to week and month to month. Some of it is new, some used. It is the intentional of the PRC (volunteers and staff as a whole) to be of help in the early days of one's parenthood (until the youngest child is age 3) , but at the same time, not the only source of one's supply. Since they may not always have the supplies one may need, it's a good idea to look for support from other sources as well during one's pregnancy, in case they don't have what one needs.

Stories of Personal Experiences with PRCs:One Client's Story
"They took care of me. I wasn't alone..."
Recent testimony as told by volunteer counselor
The CPC crisis line took a call one night from an especially desperate young woman named, "Holly". Her fiancé had brought her to Indianapolis and he had abandoned her when she became pregnant. Faced with this pregnancy and no friends or family, she could see no way out but abortion. The crisis line counselor encouraged her to come into a CPC for counseling and an ultrasound the next day.
When Holly saw the image of her baby during the ultrasound, she changed her mind and decided to carry her baby! CPC put her in contact with several local churches who came along side her with generous love and support. When she became unable to work late in her pregnancy, two CPC counselors told their churches and the congregation paid her rent! Ladies from yet another congregation began picking Holly up for church. Eventually, she came to a genuine knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ! Through sermons and a Wednesday evening mom's class, she was discipled and her new friends watched her grow and saw her anxiety disappear. Later, she was given a car to drive and a mechanic in the church repaired it so she could come to church.
Holly has now moved to another city, but she sends cards and pictures of her baby, assuring her friends she is still in church and serving the Lord. She is a living testimony of what God can do when His Body lives out his Word: "My children, love must not be a matter of words or talk; it must be genuine and show itself in action." (I John 3:7 NEB)

Published in Insight magazine, Fourth Quarter 2005, pg 6
A Quarterly Publication of Central Indiana Crisis Pregnancy Center
3125 Dandy Trail, Ste. 110
Indianapolis, IN  46214

Excerpt from Time Magazine Article: The Grassroots Abortion War"Courtney Barbour, an administrative assistant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, arranged to pick up the urine of a pregnant woman on her way to Birthchoice, a CPC in nearby Raleigh, so she would test positive and see the reaction. Having heard horror stories from friends in college, she was braced for the worst. "But it really wasn't what I expected," Barbour says. "They acted like they really did want to help me." While one woman handled the pregnancy test, Barbour spoke to a counselor who was very sympathetic. "She didn't show me any disgusting movies--though she did show me these plastic models of the fetus at each stage of development--and told me that it has a heartbeat immediately, which I knew medically was not true. [Rachael's Note: At 5 weeks since LMP (Last Menstrual Period), when most women discover they are pregnant, the heart and circulatory system has begun to form in the middle layer, or mesoderm of the embryo and the primitive heart has begun to divide into chambers, started beating, and pumping blood - Source],9171,1590444-1,00.html

Cybercast News Service: Pro-Abortion Activists Renew Attacks on Pregnancy Resource Centers
Wednesday, February 11, 2009.
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
Jennifer June VanSant testified about her experience of having an abortion and finding help through a pregnancy resource center during her second pregnancy.
"Two years later I was still using [drugs] and became pregnant again. This time I was so out of touch with reality that I was in complete denial for the beginning of the pregnancy. In the back of my mind I knew I was pregnant and didn’t want to believe it! I thought I might kill myself. I was still heavily under the influence of drugs and addiction. I didn’t know what to do. However, even in my compromised state I clearly knew the difference between the abortion and Bowie Crofton. I agreed to go to an appointment my mother arranged for me at a pregnancy clinic in Bowie, Maryland to see if my pregnancy was viable. I remember entering and feeling like everyone was looking at me. Now, I know that to be the paranoia of a severely addicted user. After greeting me, I waited for a few moments before a young lady my age walked me back to a room. It was nicely decorated, like a home. Emily was kind, considerate, and patient. While at this particular time, I was rude, disrespectful, and terrified. 

“She began by clearly informing me what would happen during my visit. I would have a pregnancy test, she and I would talk, and then I would be given a sonogram joined by my mother if I so wished. Emily and I talked about my circumstance, my boyfriend (who didn’t know I was pregnant), my desire to terminate once again, and what life would look like if I chose to become a parent. I could not even grasp the idea. I recall asking Emily several questions.  The most important one to me was, ‘How could she relate at all to my circumstance?’  In a gentle, non-forceful way, she shared with me her story about her adopted brother. I listened and took it all in. We did not talk about God; Emily knew at that point I was not interested in hearing about that. We did talk about abortion since I had already had one. No decisions were made.  Emily just listened. She asked questions that made me think, which made me really not like her because the last thing I wanted to do was really think about this decision."

"Then I met Nancy, the sonogram nurse. I was embarrassed by the size of my belly which proved me to be further along than I had expected! The moment came to view the fetus on the monitor. She asked if I wanted to look. I refused. A few moments later I could not deny the deep loud heartbeat as I turned my face to see. A tear streamed down my cheek. I turned my head, shocked that I could actually see any resemblance to a human being. Nancy spoke briefly to the health of the baby and what would be necessary to provide the optimum health for the child. Nancy told me about State funding because I did not have a job or insurance to pay for medical expenses. She emphasized the need for proper prenatal medical care and prenatal vitamins.

“As I got dressed, I cried tears of relief because these people gave me a sense that it was going to be all right. Even though I wasn’t completely convinced, no final decisions had been made. The only immediate decision I made was a vow that from the moment I saw him I would stop using drugs while I was pregnant. The next few days were hard as I occasionally glanced at the sonogram photograph and it became real. Also, the sound of the heartbeat in my head echoed over and over again. Finally, after many sleepless nights and a lot of prayer, I decided to have my child. I also decided further along in my pregnancy that I was not ready to be a parent and would make an adoption plan for my son. …

"The next few months were hard, as was the first day and many following days after leaving the hospital. My strength was not my own. Through this experience my faith was renewed. God was faithful and His Love endured. Emily called me several times during my pregnancy and was always encouraging. I also received cards and notes from others at Bowie Crofton simply telling me that they were thinking of me and the baby and hoping we were well. It meant a lot to know that the Bowie Crofton team cared about me even after I had left their facility. …

"It is my pleasure to support the work of Bowie Crofton. All of the people who work there know my son by name and they know our story. I am honored to know this group of people and believe that what they do makes a positive difference in the lives of people facing an unplanned pregnancy. …

”My life today is far more superior than I could have ever imagined, which I believe is a direct result of the positive choice I made. Thanks to the accurate information given to me by the expert, caring staff in the form of my one-on-one pregnancy counseling, pregnancy test, licensed medical sonogram, information about prenatal care, and State funding all given to me free of charge -- my son and I are alive today. I am a living example of the power of what they do. And so is my son."
"Pregnant? Worried?"
OCTOBER 14, 2008

A CRISIS PREGNANCY Center — CPC for short — hopes to be the first place a woman turns when facing an unplanned pregnancy. But pro-choice groups assert that Crisis Pregnancy Centers use deception, intimidation and harassment to dissuade women from having abortions.
Though not actually pregnant, to investigate these charges I recently visited some local clinics to see how I’d be treated.
The Savannah Care Center on East 34th Street advertises free pregnancy tests on the sign in the yard. I knock on the front door but no one answers. Finally, a woman comes out with a baby on her hip and says they’re closed.
I’ll have to try back later.
Across the street a young man waits on the cement stairs of the Savannah Medical Clinic. Also listed in the phonebook as “Abortion Clinic of Savannah,” the Savannah Medical Clinic is virtually the area’s only abortion provider.
But search “Savannah, GA abortion providers” on Google and the Coastal Pregnancy Center is one of the first names to pop up. Indeed, CPCs often set up shop in close proximity to abortion providers and choose similar-sounding names.
Another local CPC, the Coastal Pregnancy Center, is a small one-story building on the corner of Skidaway and DeRenne. When I walk in, I’m bombarded with babies.
Business cards with photos of embryos are displayed on the front check-in counter. Framed on the wall of the lobby is a huge drawing of oversized hands holding a baby. Below, it says, “God’s handiwork.”
A woman in jean shorts welcomes me.
“Do you need a pregnancy test?” she asks.
“No, I just wanted to talk with someone,” I say.
“She just wants counseling,” she hollers down the hall.
Another woman emerges from the rear. She has shoulder-length blondish hair and wears pink medical scrubs.
“Have you had the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor?” she asks.
“No. But I’ve taken some home pregnancy tests and they were positive,” I say.
“Are you going to get Medicare or health insurance involved?'
 Because we need to confirm the pregnancy if you’re going to get Medicare involved.”
“I’m on my parents’ health insurance. I’m not sure I want to get them involved.”
I can tell she’s displeased. “What we do here is confirm your pregnancy and then provide counseling,” Pink Scrubs says forcefully.
“Would you be willing to take a pregnancy test?” Jean Shorts asks.
Pink Scrubs hands me a bottle of water and a form asking where I heard about the Coastal Pregnancy Center.
Their ad in the Yellow Pages says ‘Pregnant? Worried?’ and offers free pregnancy tests and counseling. It’s listed under ‘Clinics,’ right after the All Women’s Health Center of Jacksonville, which offers abortions and free pregnancy tests. I can see how someone might get confused about which clinics provide legitimate medical services.
When I’m done filling out the form, Jean Shorts leads me to the bathroom in the back of the building. Pink Scrubs irons a onesie.
Many CPCs give material aid like diapers and baby clothes as gifts to clients who come in for pregnancy tests and counseling. There’s also a push to get more ultrasound equipment in pregnancy centers, presuming that once a woman sees images of her baby, she’ll decide to keep it.
I leave my urine sample on the top of the toilet and a third woman in her sixties ushers me down the hall. We wait for the results in a separate room with matching orange armchairs.
“Have you ever been pregnant before?” she begins her checklist.
“Have you ever had a miscarriage?”
“Ever had an abortion?”
“If this test comes back positive, is an abortion something you’re considering?” Her voice is motherly and I don’t want to disappoint her.
“Yeah, I want to explore all the options.”
She looks down at the intake form. “You wrote here that you’re Lutheran.”
“Do you go to church?”
“Not down here,” I say.
She leans closer.
“Have you been Saved?”
I don’t respond.
“Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose from the dead?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, you’re not Saved unless you believe that.”
She pulls out a laminated leaflet and scoots closer so I can look. She reads a prayer off of the leaflet and says, “You can hold on to this if you want.”
“Thanks,” I say, unsure if I am now Saved.
She leaves the room to check on my results. When she comes back, she says, “it was negative,” and shows me the single pink line.
While the Coastal Pregnancy Center’s ad in the Yellow Pages makes no mention of religious affiliation, once inside, they don’t hide that they’re a faith-based, pro-life ministry and openly express their opinion that abortion is murder.
Their “What Does God Say About Abortion” pamphlet provides Bible scriptures to questions like, “Should a child conceived as a result of rape or incest be aborted?”
The answer is Deuteronomy 24:16. “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.”

The Pregnancy Center of Rincon is a one-story brick building nestled in among other medical buildings. Like many CPCs, it looks like a health care facility, with a waiting room and partitioned check-in desk. A bubbly pregnant woman greets me. She has short curly hair and wears a brown tee shirt that says “Care Net.”
Care Net, an umbrella group that provides resources to pregnancy centers, is the largest network of CPCs. About 1,900 pregnancy centers are affiliated with Care Net and Heartbeat International, a second national umbrella group that works closely with Care Net.
The pregnant woman hands me a clipboard with forms to fill out.
In the back room, we sit down. We talk about abortion first. She gives me a booklet called “Before You Decide: An Abortion Education Resource” published by Care Net.
It describes in great detail how each abortion procedure is performed and the risks involved. The main risks the anti-abortion camp focuses on are breast cancer and post-abortion stress syndrome. (The National Cancer Institute refutes any connection between abortion and breast cancer.)
The woman tells me she has a friend who had an abortion and now suffers from something called “anniversary guilt.” Every year on the anniversary of her abortion, she has flashbacks of the event and nightmares.
She says a lot of women get post-abortion stress syndrome, which she likened to post-traumatic stress disorder. (Research studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, American Psychologist and Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, have all concluded that post-abortion syndrome does not exist.)
She tells me about another friend who gave up her baby for adoption. Every year her friend gets pictures of her son playing softball and blowing out birthday candles.
“Doesn’t it make her sad?” I ask.
“She says getting the pictures is just a confirmation that she did the right thing,” the woman replies.
She hands me another pamphlet, “Adoption: A Loving Choice,” from a nearby shelf. I believe that adoption is a loving choice; I’m sure family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood agree.
She continually reminds me that I have plenty of time to make a decision.
“You’re a skinny little thing and you won’t show for awhile,” she says. I like her even more.
I get the sense that she thinks my best option is to marry the baby’s father and keep the baby. We talk at great lengths about the benefits of marriage and parenting, especially after she learns that my boyfriend lives with me.
“Well, he’s obviously really smart and you love him and it was going towards marriage anyways. It’s not like you guys have only been together for two months.”
“True,” I say, suddenly wondering why my boyfriend hasn’t proposed.
This push to get married directly conflicts with the center’s own pamphlet on adoption, which says, “Getting married because you are pregnant is now recognized to be a poor basis for building a loving family. Marriage failures are high for those who marry under such pressures.”
The woman tells me I have plenty to discuss with my boyfriend and says, “I’ll be praying for you this weekend. Call me or I’ll worry.”

From there, I get back on Highway 21 and drive back to the Savannah Care Center on East 34th. The renovated house looks like a daycare center. Toys litter the floor.
Their ad in the Yellow Pages says they offer free pregnancy tests, counseling and medical referrals, but no one could mistake this for a medical facility.
After standing awkwardly in the lobby for a minute or so, a woman approaches me. “Can I help you?” She’s dressed in a navy pantsuit.
“I’m pregnant and I’m not sure what I’m to do,” I say.
“Are you considering abortion?”
“Yes.” I try not to sound apologetic.
“Are you considering adoption?”
“Yeah, I’m considering all the options.”
She tells me they work with a great adoption agency and that I can change my mind about giving the baby up at any time, even when it’s born.
“We had this one girl who called me up the morning she gave birth and said ‘I can’t do it. I can’t give him up.’ So she kept him. She’s real young, but she’s a good mom.”
Young moms trading parties for pampers are a growing population. Last year the government announced that the nation’s teen birth rate had risen after a 14-year decline. Less than one-third of teen moms ever finish high school.
Navy Pantsuit leads me to the bathroom in the back of the house, where I’ve agreed to take a pregnancy test.
After I’ve done my business I walk back to Navy Pantsuit’s office. She instructs me to place my cup of urine on a small table by the door. She hands me a little eyedropper and tells me to squeeze out five drops onto the test area.
She and I hover above the test until it indicates that I am not pregnant. I act surprised and relieved.
Navy Pantsuit asks me about contraception and says, “Using condoms is like playing Russian roulette.” She says that condoms fail “something like 40 percent of the time.”
“That’s why we promote abstinence,” she says. “You know, abstaining from sex.”
She says ‘sex’ like it’s a dirty word.
I thank her and take my leave. cs
Published in the Connect Savannah Online
Accessed November 17, 2008

Do you have an experience, either positive or negative, with a CPC or PRC you would like to share here? Please leave me a comment below (you may comment anonymously). The contents may be edited for formatting, but no original content removed or added by myself. Please include the name of the center, and the city and state/providence the center is in. Also indicate if you'd like me to include your real name, use a pen name, or if you'd like to remain anonymous. Any information gathered will not be used for any purpose other than this entry and will be kept confidential.
-- I agree that there may have been isolated incidences of volunteers or directors which have stepped out of line, and I apologize to those who have experienced it. However, the articles perpetrated by pro-choice organizations often lack documentation and contain questionable anecdotal evidence and editorial commentary. This suggests that the purpose of the articles is purely political and that it is not an valid nor reliable consumer report. The U.S. and Canadian Better Business Bureau reports provide information on over 2 million organizations. It's a good idea to check with the BBB before you seek services, invest, or give:
Research a Business / Charity
File a Complaint Against a Business / Charity / or a Privacy Violation

Also, I recommend Charity Navigator for looking into the financial aspects of charitable organizations

Works Cited:(1)
(2)Ziba Kashef, The Fetal Position, Mother Jones, January/February 2003 (available at
As cited by the National Abortion Federation in their publication: Crisis Pregnancy Centers
(3)See LifeSite website (available at, list updated September 2005).
 As cited by the National Abortion Federation in their publication: Crisis Pregnancy Centers
(4)Planned Parenthood Federation of America
"Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers: A Consumer's Alert to Deception, Harassment, and Medical Malpractice"
Published 1998
(5)Search of Heartbeat International's online international directory of pregnancy resource centers, using search terms, "Service: Some Medical Services"
(6)National Institute of Life and Family Advocates
(7) Curtis J. Young, Turning Hearts Toward Life: Market Research for Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Family Research Council, 1998, p. 9.
As cited by the National Abortion Federation in their publication: Crisis Pregnancy Centers
(8). Dial, Karla. "Prime Target." Citizen Magazine (Focus on the Family). Published 2002.
(9) CareNet Volunteer Training Manual. Copyright by the Christian Action Council, 1995. Pg 136.
(10)Philosophy of Birthright International
(11)CareNet Pregnancy Care Center Statement of Principle CareNet Volunteer Training Manual. Copyright by the Christian Action Council, 1995. Pg 131.4.
(12) Cybercast News Service: Pro-Abortion Activists Renew Attacks on Pregnancy Resource Centers
Wednesday, February 11, 2009. By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
(13)Guidelines for Political Involvement by Pregnancy Help Centers, by Thomas A. Glessner, J.D. At the Center magazine. Published Summer 2000

Other Articles on Crisis Pregnancy Centers:Serge: NAF Report: An Affront to Intelligence

Jivin' Jehoshaphat: Exposing Ridiculousness: How Some Pro-Choicers Attack CPCs Without Evidence

Time Magazine: The Grassroots Abortion War,9171,1590444-1,00.html

Jivin' Jehoshaphat: Some people will believe anything

Jivin' Jehoshaphat: Those deceptive pregnancy centers

Purposeful Dreamer: One Woman's Garbage is Another Woman's Garbage is Another Woman's Treasure

Jivin' Jehoshaphat: Planned Parenthood: "Damn Those Worthless CPCs!!"

Planned Parenthood: Crisis Preganancy Centers

A 2006 NAF report on CPCs (Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice)
Crisis Pregnancy Centers seek to blur the line between clinic and counseling

Barbara Solow, Medicine or Ministry, Independent Online, June 18, 2003 (available at

Women's Health Action and Mobilization, Fake Clinics: A Public Health Hazard, Brooklyn Pro-Choice Network (available at; (available at

Crisis Pregnancy Center Profiles

Original Comments Made to This Entry:barbara made this comment (4-25-2006)
I am pro-choice but I saw the myths you debunked on a PP site and went looking for a source, any source, that could confirm or refute them. Yours is (so far) the only one I could find that explained who the Pearson Foundation's good to see a voice of reason, even (especially?) from the other side of the argument. Thanks.

Rachael made this comment (4-30-2006)
Hello Barbara. I admire that you're taking the time to check into the accuracy of the information you're receiving and willing to hear both sides. Also, thanks for commenting on and linking to my entry (found here). In regards to your comment that my information needs to be stronger, what do you recommend for strengthening the arguments and what type of factual evidence where you looking for? I consider my sources carefully and check that the information I'm providing in this argument can be backed by documented evidence. Also, I am aways in the process of adding to this article as I find new information and documentation.

Melanie made this comment (5-03-2006)
Your article was well explained, and you have pretty much come to the same conclusions that I have. I am one, however, who has actually seen the Pearson Foundation Manual. I actually believe it more than 20 years old. I can tell you that not all organizations that used the manual followed all if it. In fact, the org I received the manual from did not have the PP initials. They did have degreed staff (primarily LCSW's), and were not medical. At the time they sent women to a physician for pregnancy tests, but later started providing them. The part that PP cites is actually a very small portion of the manual and the majority of it basically talks about mundane things like setting up an organizing body. Most (I never say all) CPC's do not show graphic video: for one thing, it doesn't work. It tends to just make people mad. I can say that there is no way to 100% guarantee what sort of service you will get whether it is from a prolife pregnancy resource center or a Planned Parenthood. I'm sure one can dredge horror stories from both as long as people are involved.

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