A pro-life women's healthcare center in Texas was attacked by vandals for the second time last weekend, just months after a rock was thrown through its windows.
This time, the words “liars” and “fake clinic” were spray painted across the front and side of the building after it had been newly painted.
For 13 years, the building operated as an abortion clinic owned by Whole Woman’s Health, the second largest abortion provider in Austin. In June, Austin LifeCare took over the lease and turned it into a healthcare center that helps women who want to keep their babies and need access to healthcare and other services.
Andy Schoonover, CEO of Austin LifeCare, told The Christian Post that he wasn’t surprised by the attack on the clinic last weekend. "After all, we had a rock thrown through the window just a couple of months back. We are in Austin. We are fighting for women and their babies. This just comes with the territory," he said.
While the vandalism is an inconvenience, Schoonover said his team is also battling misconceptions about the center’s work to provide healthcare to pregnant women. "I don't feel the need to defend ourselves, but I do feel the need to shine light on the propaganda that these folks are trying to spread," he said.
There are around 2,750 pro-life pregnancy centers operating in the United States, and they’re often smeared as being “fake clinics” because they don’t offer abortions. Abortion rights groups have also accused pregnancy centers of not providing any healthcare services and pressuring women to continue their pregnancies.
"These folks think that we are trying to lure women into our clinic by convincing them that we provide abortions, then trying to strong arm them into keeping their babies. This is the farthest from the truth,” Schoonover told CP, adding that women are told up-front that the facility does not offer or refer clients for abortions. “As for the 'fake clinic' accusation, I invite anyone to come down and see us, meet our RN, nurse practitioner, and licensed sonographers to see for themselves whether or not we are a fake clinic."
Austin LifeCare says it provides services to both mothers and fathers, as well as care for babies from pregnancy through the child’s third birthday. To date, the clinic has helped 30,000 women, Schoonover said.
The single greatest need many of their clients have is a need for security, he stressed. “Many of them are not in stable living situations. They are either not working or don't earn enough money to be financially secure. And they are in unhealthy relationships and don't have family support. These are all the biggest reasons many of our women want to terminate their pregnancies."
“We work to help remove some of these barriers and provide them with the support and education needed for them to be more secure in their present situation,” he added. “That security gives them the confidence to know they can be a good parent and care for their baby well.”
The center has a medical staff that includes a registered nurse, a women's healthcare nurse practitioner, and three registered diagnostic medical sonographers. This care team provides sonograms, and STI testing and treatment.
“Currently, we provide lab grade pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, referrals for social services and doctors, professional counseling with an LPC-I [professional counselors with a starter license,] prenatal education and parenting education classes, maternity clothes, new baby items (clothing, diapers, wipes, and formula), a mentoring program, and spiritual support,” Schoonover added.
Starting in September, the center will also offer limited first trimester prenatal care. Then in October, it will begin offering the abortion pill reversal which entails administering the hormone progesterone, via a pill or injection, in an attempt to save the unborn baby.
In a medical abortion women are given two drugs: mifepristone (RU-486), and misoprostol. Mifepristone works by blocking the effects of the natural pregnancy hormone progesterone; misoprostol induces contractions and a miscarriage.
Sue Turner, director of Physicians for Life, told CP in a previous interview that if a pregnant woman who has taken the first of two abortion pills decides she’s made a mistake and wants to keep her baby, she would have a relatively high chance of delivering a healthy baby if she was to undergo the abortion pill reversal.
“Natural progesterone has been used for decades to stop miscarriages,” Turner said.
“If the mifepristone is blocking the progesterone, we give a pregnant woman more progesterone to rise above that limit,” Tuner added, “then she should get enough progesterone to hold the baby in place.”
A U.S. study released in 2018 showed a 64% to 68% success rate of delivering a healthy baby after a woman had been given progesterone. CP previously reported on that study and its findings here and here.
But abortion rights groups and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology say that the abortion pill reversal doesn’t work and could result in either a miscarriage or an unhealthy outcome for the pregnancy.
Mitchell Creinin, an abortionist who’s also a medical researcher and professor at the University of California, Davis, is studying the efficacy of the abortion pill reversal, NPR reports. In 2018, Creinin received a research grant of $401,764 from the Society of Family Planning, an abortion advocacy group, to conduct his own research.
Creinin said he’s opposed to administering progesterone in an attempt to reverse an abortion because he believes it’s dangerous and doesn’t work. But he's doing the research on it anyway, NPR says, because he wants to “own” the scientific study that shows his hunch is correct and proponents of the abortion pill reversal are wrong.
While abortion rights advocates and many in the media frequently cite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ 2017 guidance that said the abortion pill reversal was not supported by science, pro-life physicians have stressed that the guidance did not include counter arguments by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization was formed by OB/GYNs who broke away from ACOG after it began advocating for abortion on demand and abortion for minors without parental consent.
Back at Austin LifeCare, Schoonover said cameras have been installed to monitor the area surrounding the facility to ensure that any future vandals will be caught. He said his team knows that the people who vandalized their center are most likely hurting and are in need of the healing power of the Gospel.
Despite the vandals’ best efforts, he said the team is continuing to provide women with an alternative to what they’re frequently told is their only option.
“Our healthcare system continues to fail our patients' recurrent unhealthy behavior," Schoonover said. "The current standard ... is to primarily focuses on only physical symptoms. ... Our model, which we have termed the Lifestyle Medical Model, addresses lifestyle, domestic situation, medical needs, relationships, and health education to provide women with a true alternative to the current standard of care.”
Follow Melissa Barnhart on Twitter: @MelBarnhart