LA Times pregnancy center article falls short of giving full, accurate picture 

By Christa Brown

Editor’s note: Since the leak of the draft majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case signaled the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, there has been an increase in media coverage of pregnancy help organizations. A bias in favor of abortion or simple misunderstanding of pregnancy help often held by many media outlets is nothing new, but accurate representation of the work of pregnancy help is especially key in the current post-Roe climate, where pregnancy help centers and other pro-life organizations are the subject of misinformation as well as vandalism, harassment, and violence. The following is a response to a Los Angeles Times article on pregnancy centers published following the May 2 leak and prior to the June 24 final Dobbs decision. The LA Times directs responses to its articles to the Letters to the Editor section, where submissions are limited to 200 words. Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News and the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN).

In her June 12, 2022, Los Angeles Times article, “The antiabortion movement fuels a growth industry: Pregnancy centers,” Molly Hennessy-Fiske endeavors to outline the increase in both the numbers of pregnancy help clinics (PHCs) and the number of women helped in the United States. 

Ms. Hennessy-Fiske was less biased than others in media as she explained the work of PHCs and was often fair in her approach.

She even gave some illustration of the need for pregnancy help clinics with real life stories of help offered to women, quoting one woman helped by her local PHC, who stated, “Like family, they embraced me.” 

As someone who has worked with these clinics for a number of years, I have talked to thousands of women contemplating pregnancy decisions. I know this work well, and I would like to respectfully point out some transgressions from truth in the article. 

The article starts with the misconception that those who assist women but do not directly provide abortion services should be labeled “anti-abortion” and that they attempt to convince women to make choices not for themselves but of the PHC’s choosing. 

It states, “Pregnancy centers vary in what they offer and their religious affiliations, but they have the same goal: persuading ‘abortion-minded’ women to reconsider and supporting those who continue their pregnancies.” 

The actual work of pregnancy help is not to coerce but rather to support women during challenging circumstances. We continue to help all women, no matter their decisions. We empower women to make the best choices possible for themselves, their children, and their families. 

The women I have assisted wanted to be heard. They wanted a place to decompress without pressures. They wanted someone to offer them hope. Very few truly wanted an abortion. They were looking to solve the problem, not abort a pregnancy. 

When provided information about their options, as well as ample support and resources, women are able to step out of the pressures and make the decision that works best for them. 

A study recently published recently in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, and reported by the Population Research Institute found that nearly three-quarters (73.8%) of women with a history of abortion surveyed admitted that they experienced at least subtle forms of pressure to terminate their pregnancies. 

No one should make a life-changing decision based on pressures of others.

Most pregnancy help centers continue to assist women for years after the baby are born, walking alongside them, and providing as much support as needed. 

The article quotes a woman helped who poignantly talks about a pregnancy help clinic, saying, “Imagine the feeling of being somewhere safe.” 

Unlike abortion providers, pregnancy help clinics have no profit to gain, no horse in the race beyond serving and empowering women. We strive to be that safe place, providing an abundance of compassionate and non-judgmental assistance.

Secondly, the article states, “Abortion rights advocates accuse the facilities — which they often refer to as crisis pregnancy centers — of deceiving women by setting up shop next to abortion clinics and dressing staff in doctors’ coats and surgical scrubs despite being exempt from medical standards of care and monitoring.” 

The writer admits this comes from a biased source and I can confirm that this statement is completely inaccurate. 

No one “dresses up” as anything they are not in pregnancy help clinics. These clinics offer medical services under the supervision and guidance of a medical director. Pregnancy help clinics employ nurses, registered sonographers, and midwives to care for women. 

The article later circles back to the idea that those who work in pregnancy help clinics are not true professionals: “Among her biggest concerns is that many centers have been changing their names to include the words ‘medical’ or ‘clinic,’ creating the impression they are medical professionals when that is often not the case.” 

This is completely false.

Pregnancy help clinics that belong to the national organizations mentioned in the article make a commitment to serve their communities with honesty, integrity, and equality. They adopt a Commitment of Care and Competence

The implication that medical standards are being compromised is not factual, not only because those working in pregnancy help clinics are licensed professionals who abide by medical standards, but also because we have true compassion for those we help. 

The writer implies twice in her article without evidence that an ultrasound performed in a pregnancy help clinic would be less accurate than one obtained at an abortion facility. She quotes a source sharing a hypothetical concern that “nonmedical staff may not properly interpret or explain the results.” 

Ultrasound in pregnancy help clinics is performed and interpreted by trained medical professionals (nurses, registered sonographers, physicians) who offer images and information to women regarding their pregnancies. 

The article quotes an abortion provider speaking negatively about pregnancy help clinics: “I call them state-funded fake clinics.” 

But the truth is that most funding for PHCs is through private donations and not state funding. 

These clinics are unlike abortion facilities who receive large amounts of tax dollars and yet offer very limited services and continue to bill patients. 

In fact more than one-third of Planned Parenthood’s revenue is derived from government funding, equating to over half a billion dollars ($563.8 million) annually. 

PHCs’ services are typically offered without a single charge to the patient. The center highlighted in the story receives only 17% of their funding from government sources and the remainder from private donations, while offering all services to the families of their community without any cost. 

Lastly, the article inaccurately states that mifepristone, the first drug given to induce a chemical abortion, cannot be reversed. Like many drugs, it can be reversed, and this process is a choice for women who have regret after starting an abortion. 

Many women have regret after starting an abortion and sometimes that regret sets in right away. Women who choose abortion should not be limited in their choices and forced to complete a process they no longer desire or consent to. 

Mifepristone competes for specific receptors in the womb and placenta causing progesterone to drop to unsafe levels in pregnancy. By offering progesterone, which has been safely used for decades in pregnancy, there is the potential to continue a pregnancy even after taking the first abortion pill. 

If the writer had looked farther, she would have found evidence of literally thousands of babies born worldwide who were born after successful abortion pill reversal. 

For the thousands of women who have experienced this, it’s incredible to see the deceptions of the media contradicting with the reality of continued pregnancy and a healthy child who is reaching milestones. 

More than 1,100 providers prescribe the abortion pill reversal protocol worldwide. Last year, women contacted the APR Network from all 50 U.S. states and from 65 countries. 

I appreciate the attention drawn to the heroic work in pregnancy help clinics by this article and the encouraging stories of those helped. But there was not sufficient effort to be fair or completely factual about centers that give so much to support their communities. 

To imply that their work lacks integrity or professionalism is insulting to those who offer an abundance of care and compassion and is not the work that I see happening every single day in pregnancy help clinics throughout the world. 

Editor’s note. This appeared in Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.