Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Public Apology to Asheville Pregnancy Support Services

I've always said an organization that cannot admit its own mistakes has no business being in existence. In a world of polarizing ideals, especially in regards to reproductive health, CPC Watch set out to offer a clear picture to women facing a difficult decision. Specifically targeting deceptive health centers that use misinformation and skewed research to manipulate women's health care decisions, we have been called a "beacon of truth in an otherwise turbulent sea."

Our commitment to honesty and respect isn't flawless, and we don't pretend it is. We make mistakes, occasionally misreporting on an issue or publishing a testimonial that we later find to be false.

I received an email today from Dr. Cummings, owner of Asheville's FemCare, the only abortion clinic in the Western NC area. She had received a call from the CEO of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services regarding a man picketing her center with a "FAKE CLINIC" sign. When questioned, he said he had gotten word from CPC Watch that her center was a deceptive crisis pregnancy center. Dr. Cummings told me that, while APSS was pro-life, they were not deceptive and should be removed from our list.

I had to check my records. I know we rarely list a CPC without first checking to see if it fits any part of our criteria. We are very public in our process. Our criteria includes:
  • Center has affiliations with/are promoted by anti-choice organizations (must also fit one or more of the below criteria; we decided last year that a promotion by an anti-choice organization is not enough to be labeled a "deceptive health center").
  • Center falsely advertises that it offers abortion services when it does not; or, center suggests that it offers abortion services or referrals when it does not.
  • Center's website and/or informational materials contain false or misleading information about abortion, contraception, or sexual health. Such false information may include claims regarding a link between abortion and breast cancer/infertility/clinical depression, equating certain forms of contraception with abortion (including emergency contraception), or dishonest claims about when abortion is available in an area.
  • Center hides its affiliations with anti-choice organizations and/or religious groups.
  • Center actively uses scare tactics to dissuade women from choosing abortion or single parenthood.
  • Center offers no medical services and claims it does.
  • Center lies to women about how far along they are in their pregnancy, or regularly delays appointments to put women further along in their pregnancies.
  • Occasionally, we will list a center when we receive a negative testimonial, as was the case with APSS.
Asheville Pregnancy Support Services, while pro-life in its mission and highly religious, does not hide anything about what it is there to do. From what Dr. Cummings told me, the center provides and accurately reports ultrasounds. She says she is comfortable referring her own clients to APSS when they choose to forgo abortion. APSS does not tout any sort of "options counseling" and does not manipulate research on abortion or contraception. Basically, Asheville Pregnancy Support Services operates the way a pregnancy-to-term support center should operate.

Personal testimony was indeed the reason we initially listed APSS as a deceptive health center. However, looking back at the initial reporting, I see a run-of-the-mill account of a CPC visit with very limited detail and a few holes. I was wrong for believing such account point blank, and I wish I had taken further steps to fact-check the story. I made a mistake, pure and simple, and for that I take full responsibility.

In light of this, I wish to offer a sincere apology to Ms. Deb Wood of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services and her entire staff, plus any clients that may have encountered the picketer. While we may disagree on issues such as pregnancy termination or sexual activity outside of hetrocentric marriage, from what I understand I have absolutely no reason to keep the center on our list.

A word about the picketer: CPC Watch claims no affiliation with the man.

Once again, I regret the confusion that brought a picketer to APSS, and thank Dr. Cummings of FemCare for helping clear things up. Additionally, I want to invite directors of CPCs everywhere to email me if they believe their center does not fit our criteria for listing. We strive to offer accurate, evidence-based information on all reproductive options and only wish to target centers that willingly ignore sound research to suit their agenda.


Lauren Guy-McAlpin
Project Coordinator