California pregnancy center sees growth in lives served and saved, including APR

By Gayle Irwin

Horizon Pregnancy Clinic’s Huntington Beach clinic
Photo: Horizon Pregnancy Clinic

Pregnancy help centers in California save hundreds of lives from abortion every day, and Horizon Pregnancy Clinic joins that endeavor through offering Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) and outreach to communities throughout the southern part of the state.

Horizon Pregnancy Clinic began providing APR services about four years ago, Executive Director Debra Tous told Pregnancy Help News recently. About 50 women have undergone the progesterone protocol through the pregnancy help medical clinic and more than 30 babies have been saved. Horizon’s nurse manager receives calls and information from the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) as part of the process, connecting with clients in need day and night. 

“If the phone rings at 10 p.m., she (the nurse manager) is picking it up,” Tous said. “We have a text chain of volunteers, including some of our mobile drivers – men – that will go and meet a patient at 11 at night or seven in the morning, whatever it is. We get them from all over southern California because we’re answering the phone. That’s a real difference.”

Clinic staff conducts follow-up care and women return to the clinic for that.

“They’re recognizing the care they’re getting from us, knowing they are cared for, and that’s really important,” Tous said.

“California continues to lead the way in mifepristone reversal,” said Christa Brown, senior director of Medical Impact at Heartbeat International, which manages the APRN. “We are thankful for clinics like Horizon Pregnancy Clinic who provide choices for women who have started an abortion but want to continue their pregnancies.” 

“For these women, the emergency treatment offered is essential but also the long-term support and resources, are critical,” Brown said.

Last fall California’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Heartbeat and a group of pregnancy medical clinics in the state in an attempt to block information and advertising about APR. The success with APR of Horizon and other California centers defies the state’s claims about APR and were the lawsuit to prevail it would mean a thwarting of freedom of choice for women.

“Every woman should have the information she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy,” Brown said.

The Thomas Moore Society is representing Heartbeat and RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics in the court case.

Horizon’s history

Horizon opened its doors in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 2005, after a group of pastors began praying three years prior for ways to positively impact the community. During the past 18 years, especially after becoming a licensed medical clinic under a medical director in 2012, the clinic has served an increasing number of women. Many patients have changed their minds from abortion to carrying their pregnancy to term after viewing their child on the ultrasound screen.

“The goal was always to become medical,” Tous said. “That was a game changer.”

Twenty-eight babies were saved from abortion between 2005 and 2012.

“We thought, ‘This is awesome!’ And it was. But in the first year we became medical, we saved 38 babies,” Tous said. “That just shows you that when they see the heartbeat, hearing it, the impact of the ultrasound is very real.”

More services, more lives saved

In 2015, Horizon added a mobile unit, traveling to areas across southern California. The clinic partnered with two other centers that were not medical and provided the limited obstetrical ultrasounds for those centers.

“It was a great partnership,” Tous said. “Now both of those [centers] have become medical.” 

The mobile unit is on hiatus right now, but plans are to return to mobile service in the future and possibly partner with another center in the area that is not yet a medical clinic, she added.

One of the communities once served by the mobile unit was Long Beach. In January 2022, Horizon opened a second center, a brick-and-mortar in that community, Tous said.

“We had been taking our mobile there for about five years, so we knew it was a good location,” Tous said. “The spot we took over had been a pregnancy center, so the build-out was very easy. God blessed us, He ordained us to be in that spot.”

For example, the landlord worked with them on rent and the internet was spotty but fixed at no charge. During the first year of operation, more than 350 babies’ lives were saved from abortion in that location.

“This year, we’re over 500,” Tous said.

Both clinics are experiencing an increase in the number of women coming in, and they come from towns across the region, she added.

“Our focus is abortion-minded and vulnerable,” Tous explained to Pregnancy Help News.

The clinic’s marketing focus reaches those women through Google Ad Words, she said. The organization’s advertising budget has doubled, helping them reach more women across southern California.

“We’re about to increase the budget again even more,” Tous said. “We have people working on our SEO all the time, making sure that’s attracting the right people. That [Google Ads] is the only thing we’ve seen that’s driving patients to us.”

Ensuring compassionate care in challenging times

Tous applied for a grant from Focus on the Family a while ago, and through the audits and assessments done to obtain those funds, Horizon became stronger in its mission and outreach to women thinking abortion was their only option. 

“They came in, they assessed everything … something we wanted to do anyway, so it was a blessing,” Tous said.

The clinic is considered a religious 501(c)(3) organization, and Tous and her team, along with the people from Focus on the Family, reviewed and updated Horizon’s by-laws, statement of faith, statement of principle, job descriptions, and other documents in order to show on a deep level “our faith permeates throughout the organization,” Tous said.

The clinic’s website was also updated to ensure wording was fully in line with the state’s standards, she said.

“The biggest thing is you can’t false-advertise,” Tous said, “so the wording ‘We do not perform nor refer for abortion’ is everywhere, on every page.”

Prayer protects and prepares

In addition to clarifying and updating clinic documents and its website and implementing a strong advertising budget, Tous credits the compassion and knowledge of the staff of 10 and volunteer crew of 70 and the prayers that surround Horizon for the increase in changed minds and babies saved.

“The staff and volunteers make us tick,” she said. “Without them, we can’t do what we do.”

Partnerships with 40 churches and hundreds of prayer warriors also keep the center functioning and strong. No direct attacks have yet happened to Horizon, she said.

“God willing, we won’t (have any),” Tous said. “We have a prayer team that has been meeting since before 2005, and they meet in person. We have a second group and they have been meeting in Long Beach, and we also send out a prayer list every week via email.”

About 300 people are on that list.

Those prayers, and the positive results seen in Huntington Beach and Long Beach keep the Horizon staff and volunteers resilient, focusing on the organization’s mission.

“It’s trying to stay faithful and hearing from God and trying to stay in His will and trying to not deviate from that,” Tous said. “And the prayer – I really believe that. We have to all uplift each other – there’s too much opposition out there.”

Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.