By Elizabeth Hale
After the Lubbock Planned Parenthood closed in 2014, crisis pregnancy centers became the only local option for women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. Whether they offer the care women need remains to be seen.
Angela Martinez, the former Lubbock Planned Parenthood managing director, said that while crisis pregnancy centers such as Heartline and Parkridge can provide resources to women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, anyone seeking information on how to get an abortion will need to go elsewhere.
“I think centers like that are good about providing free ultrasounds, and if you’re a low-income woman, that’s really helpful,” Martinez said. “But as soon as you start discussing abortion with them, they just kind of shut you down.”
Martinez said she believes crisis pregnancy centers do not provide accurate medical information about sexual and reproductive health to women when it comes to controversial options.
“You know, women are calling these places because Planned Parenthood isn’t around, so locally, there’s nowhere a woman seeking information can go,” Martinez said. “And these places are not leading them in the right direction and giving them the right information.”
While Parkridge refers to itself as “Parkridge Medical Clinic” on its website and Facebook page, it also notes that it does not provide annual wellness exams, mammograms, terminations or treatments for infertility. They center also does not dispense birth control.
Laura McGrew, the director at Heartline, a crisis pregnancy center in Lubbock, said the clinic made the decision to go medical 20 years ago in an effort to boost the organization’s credibility.
“It ups the game when it’s a nurse explaining the process from a medical standpoint, whether she’s explaining to you your options or just answering any medical questions a girl might have,” McGrew said.
McGrew said another reason to adopt a medical model was to offer women the option of getting an ultrasound while at the facility. Ultrasounds are used to get a better idea of how far along a woman is in her pregnancy and to see the fetus.
“Adding the ultrasound gives the pregnant girl the opportunity to see what’s growing inside,” McGrew said.
In discussing abortion as an option, both Heartline and Parkridge use information from the Texas Woman’s Right to Know Act, which was enacted in 2003 and amended in 2013. Both clinics do this by choice; because they are not performing the abortions, the centers are not legally obligated to give women this specific type of information.
“A Right to Know,” the pamphlet outlining the act, discusses the risks of abortion and childbirth and explains the growth of the fetus in a woman’s body.
The booklet suggests not carrying a pregnancy to term could lead to an increased chance of breast cancer, even though according to the American Cancer Society, the current scientific evidence “does not support the notion that an abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.”
While Heartline provides information to women, McGrew said the clinic does not give referrals or help schedule abortions.
Although this is not noted on Heartline’s website, McGrew said Heartline is a part of Trinity Church, an affiliate of Heartbeat International, an international pro-life organization. There is a direct link to the Heartline website from the Trinity Church website.
Angela Martinez said she believes crisis pregnancy centers may try to sway women away from abortion if possible.
“At Parkridge and Heartline, it’s kind of thinly veiled,” Martinez said. “They’ll ask you: ‘What’s leading you to the direction of getting an abortion? Is it money? Well, we can help you with that.’”
Gaby Wohead, president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at Texas Tech University, said she believes the information crisis pregnancy centers give women is intended to persuade to carry the pregnancy to term. .
“I feel like there’s some manipulation there,” Wohead said. “Women are going there to get information, and I think they’re trying to sway people. It’s a woman’s choice, and she shouldn’t feel like she’s being swayed by the places she’s going to get help.”