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February 9, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – On January 24, ECM published two reader’s editorials – one pro-life and one pro-choice in view, related to the anniversary of the Roe v.. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.  The reader’s pro-choice editorial addressed crisis pregnancy clinics that the author termed “fake” abortion clinics that she asserted “frighten and mislead” women who are pregnant.

Josh McClure at the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic has sent a rebuttal disputing points in  the “fake” clinics editorial, though that piece did NOT reference the ECPCC by name and addressed issues of crisis pregnancy clinics only generally. Still in the interest of fairness and accuracy, here are the key points raised by McClure.

First, he addressed the history of pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) which began across the country in the 1970s as a direct response to Roe v. Wade--a point on which both sides agree.

He then provides details on local clinics. “In San Diego County there are 14 PRC’s,” he wrote. While Hampton’s editorial warned of some unlicensed clinics, McClure clarified, “Eight are licensed by the San Diego County Health Department as medical clinics. One is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Each of the 14 are affiliated with at least one national organization that requires compliance with standards of advertising and clear communication with potential clients that they do not offer, or refer for abortions.”

The editorial indicated some clinics have published misleading ads designed to entice women considering abortions to clinics that seek to talk them out of having one.  McClure said ads for his clinic are “truthful and honest.” A quick check by ECM found that ECPCC’s current ads doclearly  indicate that this clinic offers alternatives to abortion and does not offer abortion services.

McClure wrote, “East County Pregnancy Care Clinic (ECPCC) is licensed as a medical clinic and laboratory. It is affiliated with Carenet and National Institute of Family Life Advocates (NIFLA)… ECPCC is staffed by a peer-reviewed medical director who is an Ob/Gyn and 10 other licensed medical professionals. All materials, education, statistics and studies include references and are reviewed for accuracy.”

He then listed ECPCC’s commitment of care standards that include serving clients without discrimination, with  compassion, and in accordance with applicable laws and medical standards, under supervision of a licensed physician. He states that clients receive “accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues, and related concerns” among other points raised. 

Part of educating clients on options at the clinic includes “the risks, responsibilities and benefits” of each choice that they have. 

“Many people try to minimize abortion, making it appear to be a safer solution to an unplanned pregnancy, without discussing the lasting effects it could have on a woman. They think because abortions are performed every day they must be safe. It is important to know the facts in order to make an informed and educated decision,” McClure’s rebuttal letter states. 

Here, the clinic strays into more controversial waters. McClure’s letter cites findings from the Elliott Institute, which has claimed that its research found women who had abortions have twice the death rate of other women two years after abortion, largely from suicides as well as accidental death and natural cause.  But an ECM fact-check on this point that Elliott's findings have been disputed by some medical and scientific experts who concluded Elliott’s methodology did not meet scientific standards for peer-reviewed journals. For example, critics have noted that women seeking abortion may already have higher rates of mental instability, risk-taking behavior or underlying health problems; there is not necessarily a cause and effect between abortion and later deaths.

While it’s reasonable to want to provide women facing abortion or childbirth with facts on the safety of both choices of this divisive issue, many women in this situation may wish to receive information that is accurate and peer-reviewed; advocates on either side of this issue have bee known to present one-sided materials that don’t include dissenting points of view.  Thus concerns raised in the original editorial over the accuracy of information provided to women at pregnancy crisis clinics has some legitimacy--a point that has also documented in a prior CBS TV special on such clinics. McClure's concern that women going to abortion clinics may not be given enough information on potential long-term consequences is also a legitimate concern, though determining the degree to which various clinics offering abortion provide such details is beyond the scope of this piece.

McClure concludes with statistic on clients served. Last year, he says that 27% of the 760 clients served at the ECPCC were return clients and 35% of new clients are referrals from friends or relatives. Referrals include medical clinics and even abortion providers, he states, adding that support is offered regardless of what decision a woman makes.   

“Childbirth, parenting and a Mom’s support groups are provided along with material support like maternity clothing, diapers, wipes, baby clothing and supplies up until the child turns two years old. If the client chooses abortion, a post abortion healing program is offered year round in groups of four to eight. Many of the women attending this program say they wish someone had told them the truth about how abortion would affect them....That clients of ECPCC rate their experience with 4.98 stars out of 5 speaks volumes of the quality of care provided.”

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