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Grassroots pro-lifers

Abortion | A new report examines the role pregnancy centers have played in women's lives over the last 40 years

WASHINGTON-In the wake of concentrated campaigns against crisis pregnancy centers-which detractors have termed "fake clinics"-a new report details the healthcare service they provide for women.

The Family Research Council, Care Net, Heartbeat International, LIFE International, and The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates commissioned the study over two years ago, one of the first of its kind. It examines the role that 2,300 "pregnancy resource centers" (PRCs) across the country have had since the first center opened in California in 1968. The report describes community-based, faith-based organizations that provide not just medical services but also counseling for 1.9 million women in unintended pregnancies annually.

"PRCs are answering the call to fill the unmet need for abortion alternatives," the report reads, citing the statistic that, at the current rate, one in three women will have an abortion before the age of 45. While abortion clinics typically have been concentrated in urban areas, pregnancy centers have not until more recently, according to the report.

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Several campaigns on college campuses sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation this year have encouraged students to canvass pregnancy centers and expose them as "fake clinics." Crisis Pregnancy Center Watch states that the centers "are an appendage of the anti-choice camp with a mission to enact control over a women's bodies and limit decisions."

Crisis pregnancy centers won't make abortion recommendations, but advocates say they are up front about that, and that they will provide support services to women post-abortion. Some of the report's collaborators pointed out that pregnancy centers could help meet one of President Obama's stated goals: to reduce the need for abortions.

According to the report, 29 out of 30 people working at pregnancy centers are volunteers, meaning the centers provide a service to the community without demanding federal funds on the scale of, for example, Planned Parenthood, which receives around $350 million annually in federal funds.

"The savings to taxpayers from these efforts are enormous," said Chuck Donovan of The Heritage Foundation, who helped produce the report.

The report also contains a new list of standards that several major national groups overseeing pregnancy centers-like Heartbeat International and Care Net-signed onto, which speak directly to some of the attacks from pro-abortion groups. The "commitment to care and competence" reads, "Clients receive accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues, and related concerns," and, "Clients always receive honest and open answers."

While Congress is in the midst of a debate about abortion provisions in healthcare reform, the report collaborators said it wasn't their intention when they began working on this two years ago to release it in the middle of a healthcare debate. But one health official from the previous administration insisted it was relevant.

"When you're empowering a mom to have a healthy child, you're empowering a healthy community," said Joxel Garcia, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services under former President Bush. "PRCs are becoming a real cornerstone in terms of our healthcare system."

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD Magazine from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.


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