What is a pre-abortion screening?

What is a pre-abortion screening? (Trần Long/Pexels)

While leftists continue to toss the false claim that pregnancy centers are “fake” medical clinics, it is often the pregnancy center that provides the initial pre-abortion medical screening. Fewer and fewer abortion clinics conduct a thorough assessment before providing patients with the abortion pill. 

A recent episode of the Pregnancy Help Podcast with Christine Grimmett featuring Heartbeat International Senior Director of Medical Impact Christa Brown and Beth Diemert, Heartbeat director of Affiliate Services addressed the question of pre-abortion screening.

Brown explained why pre-abortion assessment is more critical now than ever before in the wake of the Dobbs decision and the availability of the abortion pill with the click of a mouse. 

“.. as the FDA has continued to relax any kind of precautions, especially with the REMS, and much of this is held up in court right now, but right now women can obtain abortion without any kind of prior assessment,” Brown said. “And that is scary as a mom and as a nurse, that is extremely frightening that there could be no assessment done prior to her abortion. And we know that many women are getting these drugs through telehealth.” 

Some of that relaxed precaution involves the distribution of the abortion pill from illegal online sources.

“There are many providers who have decided that it is their mission to get these drugs to women in red states and states with more abortion restrictions,” Brown said on the podcast. 

“We know that many women are going to websites or others who know them are going to websites,” she said. “There are more than 70 websites where these drugs can be sold. And then we know there are other organizations that are funneling these drugs into areas that they believe are underserved. And all of this is done with very little medical intervention.”

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Diemert said the topic was a discussion in a recent meeting she had with executive directors of centers. Someone mentioned at that meeting, she said, that the biggest false accusation is that “we only care about the baby.” The centers’ insistence for the necessary pre-abortion assessment is proof that centers care about the female and her health as well.

Brown explained how the abortion centers have done fewer and fewer assessments since 2017-2018. She said it had been 100-percent assessment by means of an ultrasound at that point. By 2020 the rate was 66.3 percent and by 2022 it was 64-percent of all visits that included an ultrasound.

“And in addition, what we're seeing also is that less information is being given to them,” she said. “So even if they have had an ultrasound, we'll ask, well, how did your LMP dates compare to your ultrasound dates? Or what was the baby's heart rate? Or we'll ask a question about that ultrasound and very little information is given to them about that assessment, so they don't even know.”

The women do not know the placement of the baby in these cases and could be in danger because of ectopic pregnancies or be too far along for the abortion pill. 

“But if that baby is ectopic, she may take that drug thinking that these symptoms are a result of the abortion,” Brown said.

Some centers test for the Rh Factor and iron levels in mothers because of the bleeding potential in a chemical abortion. 

At a pregnancy center, the intent behind the assessment is nothing like the intentions at an abortion facility. 

“We are providing information to help her make a choice,” Brown said. We're not withholding that information from her so that we can manipulate that choice.” 

“We are giving her information to empower her,” said Brown. “So, it's a much different kind of ultrasound, but we definitely know that more and more women are going to have less of this assessment.” She added that it’s more cost effective for the abortion clinics to give less medical care before the procedure.

Diemert said the concept of ultrasounds and assessment before a woman makes a final decision is nothing new in the world of pregnancy centers, though it has suddenly come to light.

“We talk about services included in the pre-abortion screening, and some of our conversation has definitely centered around,’ this is not really anything new,’” Diemert said. “This is what pregnancy centers and medical clinics have been doing for years.” 

“The newness seems to be coming in the form of, again, the terminology, what we call it, helping women to understand more exactly what our services are by letting them know this is what we do and why we do it,” she said.

Another reason the ultrasound is critical is because 40-percent of women do not know their actual dates or are incorrect on the dates of their menstrual cycle, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Brown said.

Women deserve informed consent and to have their questions answered. Some women do not even realize they have questions until they are simply informed. Diemert said the visit should be just like any other doctor’s appointment when the physician explains what is happening in the body.

“She should know “yes your pregnancy is viable,” and “this is how far along you are,” Diemert said.

“It is then that the woman should be able to tell her story as well,” Diemert said. “Letting her share her thoughts and feelings will “help you understand where she's coming from, and then put those other steps in place.” 

What if a center does not have the capability to offer medical services? 

Partner with a center that does, Diemert said. Work together. These assessments are critical, she noted.

Other options are to refer to a trusted doctor’s office or find a mobile clinic. 

“Definitely the abortion providers are selling a quick fix, and that's not what we provide at a pregnancy help medical clinic,” Brown said, “We are in this with them for the long haul. This is something that requires some time and some tangible assistance, the things that pregnancy help medical clinics can provide them.”

Tweet This: Abortion providers are selling a quick fix-which is not what we do at a pregnancy help medical clinic. We are with them for the long haul.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help Podcast and Pregnancy Help News.

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