Since the early 1980s, the abortion industry has consistently attacked the work of Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs). Charges of being deceptive and misleading have been leveled at PRCs all over the country, and those working hand-in-hand with the abortion industry have filed numerous lawsuits with the express goal of closing down allegedly 'fake' clinics.
The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), one of the nation's foremost abortion proponents, is training people to be fake clients in order to try to slander, disrupt, and close down the life-affirming work of pregnancy help centers. NARAL produced a step-by-step guide entitled "Unmasking Fake Clinics," and its stated goal is to collect evidence for possible litigation. The guide says: "Consider equipping your volunteer investigators with tape recorders so that they can secretly tape CPC 'counseling sessions.'" They also encourage their people to make calls to pregnancy centers following a detailed phone script in an attempt to "find out whether CPCs ... provide false and misleading information over the telephone."
To respond to these attacks, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) advises that centers immediately do the following:
Review the legal advice and counsel NIFLA has provided in The Legal Primer for Pregnancy Help Centers and all of the Legal Tips that NIFLA has sent out on a monthly basis over the years. (The primer is available when a center becomes a NIFLA member.) This is a large body of material, and it may take some time to review all of it. However, the material in the primer has been written to address precisely the issues which NARAL raises in its campaign. If, after reviewing this material, there is an area in which you find your center weak, make organizational changes to address the particular legal concerns raised. Of specific importance in the primer is Chapter Five, which deals with legal issues in the counseling room. Such material should be reviewed with your counselors, and if any policy changes are needed, make them
Train your receptionists and client advocates to respond honestly and factually to every inquiry. If the telephone caller asks if you do abortions, clearly answer that you do not perform or refer for abortions. Utilize pamphlets and other educational information that is reviewed and approved by your medical professionals.
Develop a sample script for your volunteers to follow. Be sure not to give medical advice over the telephone. Below is a sample script that would be appropriate for a pregnancy resource medical clinic to use:
Review the disclaimer clause on your intake sheet. Here is sample language that would be appropriate for a pregnancy help medical clinic:
This facility is a non-profit medical clinic. All our services are free. The medical services are provided by licensed medical professionals, mostly volunteers. Your pregnancy test is 97 percent to 99 percent accurate; however, a physician must confirm the results of your test. Whether the test is positive or negative, you should consult with a licensed physician. Our volunteer counselors are lay people, not necessarily licensed or degreed personnel. The counseling obtained here is not intended as a substitute for professional counseling. All information is kept confidential except if child abuse reporting laws apply or if we believe or hear that you are in danger of hurting yourself or others. Our clinic does not perform or refer for abortion. The pregnancy center does not consent to any type of recording, taping, or videotaping. I have read and understood the above and hereby authorize the staff of this clinic to render whatever services are necessary for my care.
Be prepared, courteous, and accurate. Do Exit Surveys. Document any fake clients on an Incident Report. Call NIFLA with any concerns.
Thomas A. Glessner is President of NIFLA (www.nifla.org) and can be contacted at 540-372-3930 or NIFLA@aol.com.
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, Thomas Glessner