Page 3 of 3
I ask for the names of volunteer doctors, but for that information Fleischman refers me to Care Net, the largest network of crisis pregnancy centers in North America. By press time, Care Net had not returned my calls.
According to the NARAL report, 94 percent of crisis pregnancy centers in North Carolina do not have professional medical staffs, but only 20 percent provide non-medical facility disclosure forms. I did not receive such a form at the Pregnancy Resource Center.
What's more, the information crisis pregnancy centers gather is not private. The Pregnancy Resource Center couches this fact in legal-sounding jargon, stating on its website: "Client information is only disclosed by law and when necessary to protect the client or others against imminent harm." Not true, says Pope. Because the centers are not actual medical facilities, they are not bound by the Health Information Privacy Act, or HIPPA laws.
For instance, what the Pregnancy Resource Center considers "imminent danger" may be very different from what's in HIPPA privacy rules. According to HIPPA, patient information may be released only if he or she presents a serious danger to self or others, and that does not include someone who is pregnant. For a crisis pregnancy center, "imminent harm" could very well mean a young girl who happens to be pregnant.
"That is a big concern, because a woman in a small town could go to a crisis pregnancy center and they could call her parents or call her partner and that presents a huge issue," Pope says.
Another fact that's obscured on crisis pregnancy centers' websites and inside the buildings is the Christian agenda.
When directly asked, Fleischman admits the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte is a Christian organization, although the website characterizes it as "a non-profit, non-denominational, non-political organization that is committed to providing compassion, information and support to anyone facing the challenge of an unintended pregnancy."
"It is a part of our process to share faith to the extent that a client wants to talk about her faith," Fleischman says.
The website also notes that the center "does not perform abortions or arrange adoptions, so we have no financial interest in your decision." This seems to infer that organizations such as Planned Parenthood do have a financial interest. And that's not so.
Jessica Laurenz, director of public health policy for Planned Parenthood health system, says money made by the organization goes back into health services, which includes comprehensive birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, breast exams, gynecological services and abortions.
"Our position is, a woman who comes into a Planned Parenthood will receive information about all of her options — nonjudgmental, compassionate information about all of her options," says Laurenz. "We do whatever we can to help her make the choice that's right for her."
Back at the Pregnancy Resource Center, my counselor is directing me to the choice that's right for the Pregnancy Resource Center. She tells me the options — carry, abort or adopt. But she goes further, promoting her religious beliefs. "Everything we do here is free and we're glad to do it, but we do come from a Christian perspective," she says. "We want to give you information. We're not here to twist your arm or anything, just to let you know that this is your decision. Obviously, we care very much about the unborn child, but we also care about you."
Pope sees it differently.
"If [the facility] is advertising in North Carolina as a pregnancy resource center," Pope says, "then chances are, they have some sort of ideological agenda." And that agenda, she adds, puts the health of pregnant women at risk.