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The Investigations

From April 2018 – October 2019, NARAL Virginia conducted investigative surveys to build upon our knowledge of Virginia’s fake clinics. Upon completion of web-based research to identify all active facilities in the Commonwealth, NARAL Virginia conducted an additional intensive review with volunteer investigators. We conducted 15 in-person visits and 38 phone calls to 40 confirmed centers. All fake clinic websites and social media presences were also investigated, if applicable. In August 2020, one month after the Reproductive Health Protection Act went into effect, NARAL Virginia completed an additional six calls representing 15 different fake clinic locations.

These investigations expand upon our previously published report, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Revealed, Part II,” which was made available to the public in June 2013. You can read the full report here.

Methodology

NARAL Virginia trained 18 volunteer investigators and guided them in their visits and phone calls to these centers. All investigators were first instructed to call and obtain information over the phone. Then a select number of centers were identified for in-person visits based upon proximity to an investigator’s residence. Each volunteer visited the center with a partner for both safety and research reasons. All volunteers were trained by NARAL Virginia staff to prepare for their visit. Training included role plays question-and-answer sessions, narrative worksheets, and survey materials to obtain the most comprehensive information available. Fake clinics not accessible for a visit were called by phone.

A standard survey was used to ensure uniformity in reported findings. Investigators were asked to track a variety of topics, including information shared with clients, procedural methods, paperwork and confidentiality, and observations of the center’s physical structure. The survey also asked investigators to report any specific experiences or conversations not otherwise captured in the survey.

To document investigators’ conversations, they were instructed to record audio of their fake clinic phone calls and visits with the investigator’s consent (Virginia law states that a conversation may be recorded if one party consents). These audio recordings were later transcribed by NARAL Virginia staff.

Investigators were instructed to record their findings on their survey immediately after the interaction to ensure the most accurate recollection. Results of the visits and phone calls were sent directly to NARAL Virginia, where information was compiled, tracked, transcribed, and maintained with strict confidentiality. All investigators were asked to keep their work and the investigation confidential until the public release of this information by NARAL Virginia.

Citations

[1] “Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help.” Heartbeat International, www.heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory. Accessed 08 Aug. 2020.

[2] “Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk.” Committee Opinion Number 434, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, June 2009, www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2009/06/induced-abortion-and-breast-cancer-risk. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

[3] “Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Breast Cancer.” Clinical Guidance Practice Advisory, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, Jan. 2018, www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2018/01/hormonal-contraception-and-risk-of-breast-cancer. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

[4] Kurtzman, Laura. “Five Years After Abortion, Nearly All Women Say It Was the Right Decision, Study Finds.” UCSF News, University of California San Francisco, 13 Jan. 2020, www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/01/416421/five-years-after-abortion-nearly-all-women-say-it-was-right-decision-study. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

[5] Carter, Dennis. The COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Leaves Abortion Providers Out in the Cold (Updated). Rewire.News, 27 Mar. 2020, rewire.news/article/2020/03/27/covid-19-stimulus-bill-includes-broad-discretion-to-deny-loans-to-reproductive-health-groups/. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

[6] Yurcaba, Jo. Anti-Choice Clinics Are Open During the COVID-19 Crisis. That’s Dangerous for Pregnant People. Rewire.News, 10 Apr. 2020, rewire.news/article/2020/04/10/anti-choice-clinics-are-open-during-the-covid-19-crisis-thats-dangerous-for-pregnant-people/. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

[7] “Choose Life Virginia License Plates Available from DMV.” Choose Life – Virginia, Richmond Coalition for Life, 19 Aug. 2019, www.vachoose-life.org/index.php. Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

[8] State Organizations Information. Choose Life America, Inc., www.choose-life.org/other-states.php. Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

[9] “Induced Abortion.” Patient Resources, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/special-procedures/induced-abortion. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

[10] “Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel.” Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Jan. 2020, www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/docs/Condoms_and_STDS.pdf. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

[11] Robert, Boyd. Local Groups React to Governor’s Comments. 13NewsNow, 31 Jan. 2019, www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local-groups-react-to-governors-comments/291-999047e8-f576-4a97-9082-ad65c64e9fb8. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

[11] Kaufman, Matt. “Alternatives to Abortion: Pregnancy Resource Centers.” Pro-Life, Focus on the Family, www.focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/alternatives-to-abortion-pregnancy-resource-centers/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

[12] “Senate Education and Health Committee.” Virginia State Senate Committee Archives, 23 Jan. 2020, virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

[13] Hannah, Natansan. “This Retired Doctor Spends Her Time Performing Abortions and Circumcisions. She Says Her Jewish Faith Leads Her to Do Both.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, 6 Aug. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/08/06/this-retired-doctor-spends-her-time-performing-abortions-circumcisions-she-says-her-jewish-faith-leads-her-do-both/. Accessed 18 Aug. 2020.

[14] Benson Gold, Rachel, and Elizabeth Nash. “Flouting the Facts: State Abortion Restrictions Flying in the Face of Science.” Guttmacher Policy Review, Guttmacher Institute, 9 May 2017, www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2017/05/flouting-facts-state-abortion-restrictions-flying-face-science. Accessed 18 Aug. 2020.

[15] “2019 Annual Report.” CareNet Financial Information, CareNet, www.care-net.org/financial-information. Accessed 19 Aug. 2020.

[16] “About abortion certification and disclosures.” Advertising Policies Help, Google, https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/9274988?hl=en. Accessed 21 Aug. 2020.

[17] “Medicaid & CHIP in Virginia.” State Overviews, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, https://www.medicaid.gov/state-overviews/stateprofile.html?state=virginia. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.

[18] “Medicaid for Women Who Are Pregnant.” Public Assistance, Arlington County Government, https://publicassistance.arlingtonva.us/medicaid-women-pregnant/. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.

[19] Finer, Lawrence et al. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.” Perspectives on Sexual and Repductive Health, Guttmacher Institute, 01 Sept. 2005, https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.

[20] “Time for Abortion in the Black Community to Be History, Care Net Says.” CareNet, 01 Feb. 2006, https://www.care-net.org/press-release-020106. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.

[21] “Urban Initiative.” Heartbeat International. https://www.heartbeatinternational.org/about-us/item/13-urban-initiative. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.

[22] “Five Smooth Stones.” Heartbeat International. https://www.heartbeatinternational.org/images/hbImages/campaign/Downloads/5-stones-campaign-brochure.pdf. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.

[23] “Virginia Locations Served.” ABC Women’s Health & Ultrasound Center. https://pregnancyvirginia.com/. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.

[24] North, Anna. “What ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Really Do.” Vox, VoxMedia, 02 March 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/2/21146011/crisis-pregnancy-center-resource-abortion-title-x. Accessed 18 Aug. 2020.

[25] “Abortion in Black America: NAACP Endorses Problem, Care Net Offers Help.” CareNet, 19 April 2004, https://www.care-net.org/press-release-041904. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.

[26] “Considering CareNet? A Guide to Becoming a CareNet Affiliate.” CareNet. https://www.care-net.org/hubfs/Affiliate_Icons_and_ads/A%20Guide%20to%20Care%20Net%20Affiliation%20UPDATED%2010.09.18%20.pdf?hsCtaTracking=95018527-cb63-4f5a-9706-264783b19f00%7C0e4ad0a1-b8a7-4f33-9351-b3917d6801ec. Accessed 19 Aug. 2020.

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