We are seeing a lot of incorrect claims coming from the mouths of legislators and activists regarding Pregnancy Centers in Washington. Here are the facts to help you counter these fallacies.
First, you should know these three things:
1. Pregnancy Centers are non-profit, faith-based organizations that take no tax dollars from the federal or state government. They are supported 100% by individuals, businesses, churches and private foundations. They are all independent organizations managed by a local board of directors.
2. There are two types of Pregnancy Centers - Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRC) and Pregnancy Resource Medical Clinics (PRMC). Both may offer a variety of maternal support services, prenatal and new parent educational programs, practical support services for new mothers (i.e., diapers, clothing) and community and medical referrals.
3. Pregnancy Resource Centers provide free pregnancy test kits, pregnancy decision assistance and maternal and infant services and do not offer medical services. Pregnancy Medical Clinics are licensed medical clinics that specialize in pregnancy diagnosis. Medical services include pregnancy testing, nursing consultations, ultrasound exams, STD testing, and early prenatal care under the direction and supervision of a Washington State licensed physician. Most Pregnancy Medical Clinics also offer maternal and infant care services.
FACTS AND FALLACIES
1. FALLACY: Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington has received many complaints from women who have gone to Pregnancy Centers.
FACT: In 2010, Pregnancy Centers in Washington State had over 62,000 visits by women. According to a report by Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes Washington, they claim that in 2009 they had more than 10 negative reports about Pregnancy Centers.[i] That would be ten complaints out of 62,000 visits.
2. FALLACY: Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes performed an unbiased investigation into Pregnancy Centers.
FACT: Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion services in the country. Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes sent into some Pregnancy Centers specially trained volunteers to confirm the over 10 negative reports. How is this unbiased?
3. FALLACY: Pregnancy Centers mislead women regarding the services they offer.
FACT: The fact that Pregnancy Centers do not refer for or perform abortions or sell birth control is clearly stated on the front page of their client websites and in disclaimer forms that are signed by clients before receiving services. You can find copies of these forms at www.protectwomenwa.com.
4. FALLACY: Pregnancy Centers give women false information about pregnancy and abortion.
FACT: Pregnancy Medical Clinics clinics provide information about pregnancy and abortion under the direction of their Medical Director who is a licensed physician in Washington State. Pregnancy resource centers use state materials and nationally respected education pieces that are written and approved by physicians and endorsed by their national affiliations.
5. FALLACY: Pregnancy test outcomes are withheld from clients.
FACT: At a pregnancy resource center, a woman can get a free pregnancy test kit. The pregnancy test is then performed and read by the client. There is no delay in seeing the results as clients sit and watch the outcome of the test unfold in front of them. At Pregnancy Medical Clinics, nurses perform pregnancy tests in the same way as pregnancy tests are performed in any doctor's office.
6. FALLACY: Pregnancy Centers are "bogus" or "fake" medical clinics.
FACT: Pregnancy resource centers do not claim to be medical clinics and disclose this fact in their intake forms and client websites. Pregnancy Medical Clinics specialize in pregnancy diagnosis and meet the requirements of Washington State definition of a heath care provider (RCW 18.71.011). Just like all doctor's offices, a licensed doctor is the Medical Director who is responsible for the patient care and medical services provided at the clinic. These medical clinics are staffed by licensed nurses, sonographers and other medical professionals.
7. FALLACY: Comprehensive birth control services or referrals are not provided.
FACT: Pregnancy Centers do not sell birth control but they do provide referrals to local physicians for continued reproductive health care.
8. FALLACY: A patient's privacy is not protected at a pregnancy center.
FACT: Pregnancy Centers adhere to all Washington State confidentiality laws and other client/patient regulations. Furthermore, Pregnancy Medical Clinics follow the directions of their licensed physician regarding how medical records are to be protected.
9. FALLACY: Ultrasound exams provided are non-diagnostic.
FACT: Ultrasound exams are provided to patients under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician and performed by medical professionals for the purpose of diagnosing a viable intrauterine pregnancy.
[i] The Deceptive Practices of Limited Service Pregnancy Centers by Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington, page 2