Pregnancy Centers That Offer Ultrasounds are Medical Clinics

Opinion   |   Tom Glessner   |   Jul 10, 2013   |   1:04PM   |   Washington, DC

Since the mid-1990s pro-life Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) have been offering ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy to mothers considering abortion. This movement to provide ultrasound has accelerated dramatically over the years to the point that currently more than 860 pregnancy centers are providing ultrasound and other medical services.

Opponents of PRCs have conducted a decades long smear campaign to slander the work of PRCs claiming that they are “bogus clinics” and that their use of ultrasound amounts to medical malpractice. Even some well-intentioned pro-life people in attempting to defend the work of PRCs have stated that these centers are not “clinics”. However, in doing this such pro-life friends have done a great disservice to medical pregnancy centers and have unintentionally aided the enemies of PRCs by confirming their slanderous charges.

Pregnancy centers that provide ultrasound services (and other medical services such as STI testing and treatment) under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician are, in fact, medical clinics and should be acknowledged as such. A medical clinic under its dictionary definition is simply a facility that provides medical services under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician.

Four states — California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts — have detailed regulations on the licensing of medical clinics and such regulations must be complied with in order to be a “clinic.” In the other 46 states a pregnancy center that provides the medical services under the license of a physician who supervises the services is a medical clinic. And this is exactly what medical PRCs do!

All 860 medical PRCs provide their medical services under the direction of a licensed physician. The primary medical service being provided is a diagnosis of pregnancy through limited obstetric ultrasound. (Other medical services provided by some PRC medical clinics include STI testing and treatment, prenatal care, laminaria removal and provision of prenatal vitamins.) The provision of ultrasound services is always a medical service and thus, must be supervised by a licensed physician who is the medical director of the clinic.

The provision of pregnancy confirmation through limited obstetric ultrasound is a medical service that requires medical professionals skilled in the implementation of ultrasound. NIFLA has since 1998 through its Institute in Limited Obstetric Ultrasound trained more than 3,000 nurses and other medical health professionals in the legal and medical “how to’s” of ultrasound within the setting of a PRC. This course is based upon legal and medical guidelines issues by the medical profession and the ultrasound medical community. Ongoing onsite training is also provided for such medical personnel to allow them to enhance their skills. All such medical professionals work under the supervision of the medical director — a licensed physician.



Medical PRCs are staffed by both paid and volunteer medical professionals. In addition to the medical director they also utilize the services of RNs, Physicians Assistants, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS) and other licensed health care providers.<

The dramatic work of medical PRCs is changing lives and building a culture of life throughout the country. Their credibility is enhanced by professionally providing medical services under medical professional guidelines. The pro-life movement needs to understand and acknowledge that such PRCs are indeed medical clinics and are not “bogus” as asserted by the abortion industry. Note: Tom Glessner is a pro-life attorney who is the president of NIFLA, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. NIFLA is an organization with more than 1,200 affiliated pregnancy centers that provides legal, medical and practical help for pregnancy centers across the country.