Sebastian's Point

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An Examination of the Study “Who Attends a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Ohio?” 

Allie Frazier

Executive Director

Right to Life of Northeast Ohio   |  11 August 2022

In May of 2021, researchers from The Ohio State University’s Colleges of Medicine and Public Health published a study in Contraception entitled, “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” The findings of this study form an interesting insight into the success of the pregnancy help movement’s woman-focused approach. It also reveals the lengths to which abortion apologists in academia will go to accuse their failure to address the basic needs of women facing unplanned pregnancies. 

 

The study, conducted by researchers at OSU between 2018 and 2019, found that a surprising number of Ohio women between the ages of 18-44 had visited a pregnancy center on at least one occasion, especially Black women and those in the lowest socioeconomic bracket. Overall, 13.9% of Ohio women of reproductive age had been to a pregnancy center. That number increased to 26.7% among Black and non-Hispanic women and to 56.9% of those women categorized as being in the lowest socioeconomic status.[1] However, rather than celebrating the many women experiencing unplanned pregnancies who had connected with local centers providing free services and supplies, the study instead sought to undermine the legitimacy of these centers throughout its statistical analysis. 

 

 

Several accusations towards pregnancy centers surface in the study, with the main accusations being that pregnancy centers are not medical facilities and that they spread disinformation. The study surmises that pregnancy centers may have unqualified staff who could fail to diagnose life-threatening situations such as ectopic pregnancies, which are usually determined via ultrasound. Their concern is striking considering that the Guttmacher Institute claims that “routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade an individual from obtaining an abortion.”[2] It is helpful to note that chemical abortions done through the RU-486 regimen can be fatal if done without first determining that the pregnancy is not ectopic and according to the Mayo Clinic, an ultrasound is necessary to confirm the placement beforehand.[3] The Guttmacher Institute, formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood, is cited not once but three times by the OSU study concerning different topics related to reproductive health.[4]

 

 

Regardless, to properly address these concerns, a simple overview of pregnancy centers is helpful and shows that the overwhelming majority provide key services such as ultrasounds and STD/STI services, the scopes of which vary by center. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, of the approximately 3,000 pregnancy centers across the U.S., 79% provide obstetrical ultrasound services, 30% provide STD/STI testing and 21% provide STD/STI treatment.[5] Statistically, pregnancy centers are also heavily staffed by medical professionals, with 10,215 licensed medical professionals involved as pregnancy center workers in the U.S., both as staff and as volunteers.[6] In Ohio, those numbers are also significant, with 940 medical professionals employed by pregnancy centers and 3,360 engaged as volunteers as of 2019.[7] Conversely, abortion facilities suffer from an endemic lack of qualified staff. 

 

 

Even a brief exploration of reports from the Ohio Department of Health reveals the abortion industry’s chronic staffing issues. Northeast Ohio Women’s Center, an abortion facility located 10 minutes outside of Akron, Ohio was cited by the ODH in 2014 for first having no director of nursing as required by Ohio Law, and then several years later for lack of evidence that their director of nursing had the necessary qualifications—a repeat violation.[8] About 30 miles north, staff at Preterm Cleveland had no documentation to prove that staff members performing ultrasounds had received the necessary training to do so. They also failed to have a sign posted to inform patients that no one could force them into having an abortion and to notify a staff member if they were being coerced, per a 2019 ODH report.[9] At this time, it is unknown if The Ohio State University Colleges of Medicine and Public Health have conducted a study questioning or even addressing these infractions.

 

 

Beyond their targeted questioning of pregnancy center’s medical qualifications, OSU study’s second complaint regarding pregnancy centers is their penchant for “disinformation.” The study states that “CPCs have been found to provide inaccurate medical information, such as informing women to expect risks from abortion…[such as] ‘abortion trauma syndrome.’”[10] It is no secret that those aligned with the abortion industry have long claimed that abortion poses no psychological risks, however, a study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry by Dr. Priscilla K. Coleman with the University of Bowling Green found that women who underwent abortions had an 81% higher risk of mental health problems with at least 10% of that risk directly attributed to their abortions.[11] 

 

 

Another “disinformation” complaint the OSU study levels against pregnancy centers is their offered education on the cancer-causing effects of hormonal birth control. Although the moral implications of hormonal birth control are often debated, its acknowledged health risks inspire less room for nuance. To list one example, the World Health Organization has categorized the birth control pill as a Group 1 carcinogenic alongside substances such as arsenic and asbestos.[12] It is also helpful to note that use of birth control does not constitute a guaranteed solution to unplanned pregnancy or abortion prevention. In 2020, 3,374 total women, or a little over 16%, of women on whom abortions were performed were on contraceptives at the time of conception.[13] In 2018, when the OSU study was conducted, that number was even higher, with over 1 in 5 women using some form of contraception at the time of conception.[14]

 

 

Although the study’s focus on what they describe as “disinformation” is recurring throughout, so is their complaint that pregnancy centers are often faith-based. This critique seems rather odd considering that nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the US are religious, with Dr. John Lienhard from the University of Houston going as far as to call hospitals themselves “a very altruistic Christian invention.” [15] [16] Granted, pregnancy centers are not hospitals, nor do they claim to be, however, faith-based care centered on specific needs has long been critical to community members, whether they are of a faith or none. It is also puzzling that even though the OSU study reports that 70% of women who visited a pregnancy center said that faith was important, the study repeatedly uses the faith-based component of many pregnancy centers as grounds to question the validity of their services provided to these women.

 

 

Finally, researchers for the study wrap up their comments with an assertion that pregnancy centers target Black and low-income women and may even trap them in a cycle of poverty. “If CPC [crisis pregnancy centers] succeed in their mission of preventing abortion,” the study states in its final paragraphs, “[women] might choose to continue their pregnancies and consequently experience lifetime socioeconomic consequences such as poverty, under employment and reliance on public programs.”[17] If the researchers at OSU believe that Black women and women in lower income brackets would be better off with dead children so as not to constitute a “reliance on public programs,” it seems as if they should just go ahead and say it. Sadly, both racism and classism appear to be alive and well within pro-abortion academia. 

 

 

Additionally, it should come as no surprise that although no conflicts of interest were disclosed by the researchers for “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” The Ohio State University has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the abortion industry. One must only look as far as the institution’s annual “Sex Week” during which Planned Parenthood has hosted multiple panels including “Fighting Abortion Stigma” and “Contraception Jeopardy.”[18] The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, of which several of the study’s researchers claim an affiliation, is a sponsor of the event, alongside pro-abortion lobbyist group NARAL Pro-Choice America.[19] It is far from shocking that institutions such as OSU extend valuable research dollars to delegitimize the abortion industry’s greatest competitors: pro-life pregnancy centers. Undoubtedly, these centers comprise a more tangible threat to their vision of the world than any other institution within the pro-life movement. If women are empowered to keep their babies and given the community support they need, what need is there then for an abortion industry?

 

 

To conclude, a quote from Dr. Maria F. Gallo, a co-author of the study, provides a telling explanation for the accessibility of the pregnancy help movement. “Crisis pregnancy centers are free,” Dr. Gallo told the Ohio State News regarding the study, “so we might also want to think about ways to offer alternative free support services that also draw women in for comfort and to get free supplies.”[20] 

 

 

Regardless of the abortion industry or academia’s agendas, women still desperately need the holistic, life-affirming solutions that pregnancy centers offer. Those who experience unplanned pregnancies crave real support from people in their community who actually care about them and their children. Pregnancy centers, with their diverse services which can include free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, STD/STI testing, material goods, and emotional support are uniquely equipped to serve women when they need it most. Care is about more than just medical services, although many pregnancy centers excel in that realm as well. Care is about seeing and addressing real needs and a willingness to walk alongside women through their pregnancy and parenting journeys. Care is about seeing women and their preborn babies as human beings worthy of life and love. Abortion activists, blinded by their frenzy to expand abortion access, have missed that many women are looking for someone to view them as more than just a quotable statistic. 

____________________

[1] See Rice, R., Chakraborty, P., Keder, L., Turner, A.N., Gallo, M.F. (2021, May 16). “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” Contraception.

[2] See Requirements for Ultrasound. Guttmacher Institute

[3] See Medical Abortion. Mayo Clinic  

[4] See Rice, R., Chakraborty, P., Keder, L., Turner, A.N., Gallo, M.F. (2021, May 16). “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” Contraception.

[5] See Gual, M., Maxon, J., (2022, June 23). Lives Saved Impact at U.S. Pregnancy Help Centers. Charlotte Lozier Institute

[6] See Gual, M., (2021, July 19). Fact Sheet: Pregnancy Centers – Serving Women and Saving Lives (2020 Study). Charlotte Lozier Institute

[7] See Pregnancy Center State Impact Report: Ohio. Care Net, Charlotte Lozier Institute  

[8] See Northeast Ohio Womens Center. Check My Clinic  

[9] See Preterm Abortion Clinic. Check My Clinic

[10] See Rice, R., Chakraborty, P., Keder, L., Turner, A.N., Gallo, M.F. (2021, May 16). “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” Contraception.

[11] See Coleman, P.K. (2018, January 02). “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009”. Cambridge University Press.  

[12] See List of Classifications: Agents classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1-132. International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization  

[13] See Ohio Induced Abortion Report 2020

[14] See Ohio Induced Abortion Report 2018

[15] See University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. (2020, January 02). “Few people consider religious affiliation of hospital they choose”. JAMA Network Open 

[16] See Leinhard, J.H., (1998-1997) Engines of Our Ingenuity, No. 991: Invention of the Hospital”. University of Houston 

[17] See Rice, R., Chakraborty, P., Keder, L., Turner, A.N., Gallo, M.F. (2021, May 16). “Who attends a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio?” Contraception.

[18] See https://www.sexweekatosu.org/sex-week-events

[19] See https://www.sexweekatosu.org/partners

[20] See “Visits to ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ common in Ohio”. (2021, May 27). Ohio State News