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New York Times Takes On Texas Pregnancy Centers

This story was on the front page of Saturday’s edition of the New York Times. It’s about pro-life pregnancy centers, specifically one in Waco, and how they are, as the head of one of the largest pregnancy center organizations put it, “a compassionate approach to this issue.” Or as a representative of Americans United for Life says, “They’re really the darlings of the pro-life movement.” Predictably, the story is being criticized on a few anti-abortion blogs, mostly, it seems, because the Times reporter points out the differences between pregnancy centers and women’s health clinics, while not offering much criticism of Planned Parenthood.

As luck would have it, I wrote about this same topic in the January issue of D Magazine. I hung out with David Pomerantz, the young man who drives the Sonograms-On-Site van. (An over-sized cargo van converted into a roving ultrasound unit.)

The biggest criticism from opponents, aside from disagreeing with his strong religious beliefs, is that, while some of the pregnancy center employees have some medical training–the ultrasound technicians employed by SOS have all been certified, for example–they are not doctors or nurses. (Also, that they interfere in the lives of strangers and try to manipulate women when they’re most scared and vulnerable, but that’s not new.)

And while these centers can help with a number of issues women face (everything from money to clothing to cooking lessons and emotional counseling), they can’t replace places like Planned Parenthood–as many in the pro-life movement hope–because they just can’t offer services like Pap smears and breast exams. As a matter of fact, if the sonogram technician finds something suspicious on an ultrasound, like something that looks like it might lead to a miscarriage–and this happened in the time I was with Pomerantz and his group–they can’t legally diagnose the problem. All they’re allowed to do is refer the woman to a doctor.

Still, this is the next evolution in the abortion discussion. This is (hopefully) the end of calling women murderers. This is the pro-lifers demonstrating the compassion that the pro-choicers have often accused them of lacking. It will be interesting to see what this conversation sounds like over the next few years.