Can Anyone Start a Pregnancy Clinic?
Pregnancy Clinics represent the compassion arm of the pro-life movement, meeting women where they are to love them, lead them to Jesus, and empower them to choose life. In order to be most effective in reaching mothers in crisis, Clincs need to be credible and competent in the services they provide.
A popular claim among pro-abortion advocates is that Pregnancy Resource Clinics (PRCs) provide medical services to clients without a license because they are protected as nonprofits and therefore are unregulated. Is this true? Are PRCs legally and ethically sound? Can anyone start their own PRC and provide unregulated medical services?
Are PRCs Medically Licensed?
PRCs provide free services and care to women in crisis pregnancies in the form of consultations, education, counseling, and material resources. In addition to these services, medical PRCs also provide medical services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, and STI/STD testing. Not all PRCs perform medical services, so, therefore, not all are
Although there is a distinction between medical and non-medical , PRCs that provide medical services must abide by the established medical processes. The Lozier Institute reported that 10,215 licensed medical professionals were involved as either staff or volunteers across 2,131 of approximately 3,000 PRCs located across the United States. These licensed physicians are accountable to all medical board requirements and state laws. When PRCs have a medical license and have medically-licensed and board-certified physicians on staff, they are able to provide the same medical services found in a hospital clinic.
Licensed PRCs can provide medical services, but unlicensed PRCs cannot. These are more often referred to as Pregnancy Help Centers or Pregnancy Care Centers. These PRCs provide free services and resources such as peer counseling, education, parenting classes, and material resources (diapers and baby clothes). A non-medical Clinic is not required to present a medical license—this would be like asking a local food bank to have a medical license.
However, many churches have a Pregnancy Care Center arm to have an avenue to counsel women in crisis, provide donated resources, and offer community support. While most are non-medical, churches that perform this role are operating as the hands and feet of Jesus, and their first priority isn’t to front as a medical facility but to be a safe place for mothers and babies.
Can Anyone Start a PRC?
Those who wish to start a PRC often do so under the guidance of already established networks, such as Care Net, Heartbeat International, and NIFLA. These organizations follow established codes, such as the national code of ethics instituted in 2009 “Our Commitment of Care and Competenence” (CCC).
Under the CCC, all medical services must be under the supervision of a licensed physician and follow medical standards. The code addresses truthfulness and transparency in communication screening for volunteers and employees, nondiscrimination, and client information confidentiality. Even if it’s as simple as a pregnancy test, PRCs must comply with the national standard of care, which includes the standards of the:
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Centers for Disease Control
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses
- Nurse Practice Act
When a new Clinic is formed, it must file the articles of incorporation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to establish itself as a tax-exempt organization. Subsequently, they must follow all state regulations and laws, such as in the areas of employment, fundraising, finances, taxation, public reporting, and financial disclosure.
Many PRCs take their transparency even further by reporting to non-governmental accountability organizations. For example, PreBorn! is accountable to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (or ECFA) and reports its annual tax filings to Charity Navigator, where it has 100% ratings in “Financial” and “Accountability and Transparency.”
PRCs are held accountable medically, legally, and financially, so while anyone can start a nonprofit PRC, there are many steps to take to make sure it is equipped and competent before serving mothers and babies.
How can a PRC Maintain a Medical License?
PRCs broaden their reach and are able to provide more services to their community when they pursue their medical license. How does a PRC become licensed? In the same way a nonprofit files for a 501(c)(3), a PRC must apply for a medical license under its state’s Medical Licensing Board.
Now more than ever, many non-medical PRCs have the goal to become medically licensed in order to better reach women vulnerable to abortion, to have stronger credibility in their community, and to better serve the needs of families.
You can have confidence that PreBorn! Pregnancy Clinics are medically licensed. PreBorn! provides new ultrasound machines and underwrites ultrasound scans, so moms can access this vital medical resource for free in order to choose life. Consider sponsoring a life-saving ultrasound today, changing the lives of both mother and baby.