Did the Good Guys Just Get a Big Win?

Did the Good Guys Just Get a Big Win?

Did the Good Guys Just Get a Big Win?

The Fifth District Court just struck down U.S. FDA’s lenient abortion pill distribution protocols in the latest of this ongoing legal battle. This is most assuredly a pro-life win. Below are the highlights, important context, and projections of what will happen next. If you benefit from this, I welcome an email back. Remember that this is subscription only. You can share it with a colleague who can also subscribe here.

What’s in this Truth?
It is impossible to provide an honest assessment of the abortion pill without invoking a factual accounting of the political machinations at play. This Truth contains a fact-based framing that identifies actors’ political affiliations because, well, it’s the truth. We fully acknowledge that the forces behind the abortion pill are demonic and that we don’t wage war against flesh and blood. But the human actors on both sides—and in the swishy middle—matter.

I borrowed from
Ben Johnson’s excellent piece at The Washington Stand. There has been a lot written about this recent judicial win, but his piece is exceptional.

The Most Recent Judicial Ruling
Maybe you’ve heard of the recent abortion pill victory. Here’s the backstory. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to allow the abortion pill to be offered by mail during the dark and mandatory distancing days of Covid. In December 2021, Biden’s FDA allowed abortion pills to be prescribed online, without so much as a medical visit. Now, in late summer of 2023, the entire camel is under the tent and the abortion pill is responsible for unprecedented destruction. (In case you’ve missed reading “unprecedented” and “Covid” in adjoining sentences.)
The abortion pill accounts for over 50% of all U.S. abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute and every other source I’ve seen. They’re very effectively and efficiently making a killing with these drugs.
But in good news, in a milestone last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the abortion industry may no longer send the abortion pill by mail. Keep reading for what “no longer” really means. Hint: it doesn’t mean “no longer.”

Battles involving life are the eye of the storm
, and we’ve been following this Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA case carefully. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine is a group of doctors courageously represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). They seek to hold the FDA accountable for negligently expediting approval of the chemical abortion drug mifepristone, one of the two drugs that are part of the abortion pill regimen.

This decision contained some positive outcomes for those who care about women’s health and believe that every child deserves to be born. Here are the conclusions, adapted from Mr. Johnson:

  1. Mifepristone is reduced from being approved for dispensation at 10 weeks to 7 weeks. That’s worth mentioning, because all indication by those of us who follow this is that the FDA was laying the groundwork to increase the number of weeks. They may still be.
  1. Only a physician may prescribe the pill. That’s another win because in Virginia, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives can perform abortions.
  1. This decision ends the current tele-health abortion model because it requires the patient to have three in-person visits with a doctor to confirm pregnancy, take mifepristone and misoprostol, and a follow-up to check for complications of that abortion which might include an incomplete abortion. This is big, because it requires some modicum of medical care which does not exist with telehealth abortions. The truth is, all of us in this work have heard and seen horror stories of after-effects of the abortion pill upon unwitting patients who had no idea what to expect. I’ll spare you gory details, but we hear them all the time, as recently as this week in Northern Virginia.

However, still missing is an ultrasound. None of this protocol will diagnose or treat an ectopic pregnancy, which can be fatal to the mother. Nor will it tell her how far along she is, which is a critical piece of information in determining medical “appropriateness” for the abortion pill. If anything, reducing the approved gestational age for the abortion pill may incentivize abortionists not to perform an ultrasound so they can hurry up and abort the baby with pills—a baby who may already be too far developed for a “successful” abortion. Never mind what that will do to the woman.

Just a few years ago, a woman had to have an ultrasound in Virginia to have an abortion, but that is no longer our state law.

  1. Mail-order abortion is ended. At least legal mail order abortion. This is big, but we expect the illegal black market will boom.
  1. Abortionists must report all adverse events caused by mifepristone. In 2016, the Obama administration said abortionists were no longer required to report any side effects of the abortion pill to the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS) except for death of the patient.

We are confident that even those death numbers are under-reported. We hear from our peers in pregnancy centers and others who work hands-on with abortion minded pregnant moms. Abortionists are known to tell women that if they must go to the Emergency Room due to complications of the abortion pill, they should not tell medical professionals that they took the pills. Her symptoms will mimic a miscarriage, so no need to speak up. We’re told they tell women they will get in trouble for taking the pill.

If you really want to know the truth about the gnarly side effects, well documented across many sources, read Ben’s article.

The Impact in Our Community

This spiritual and terrestrial battle for life is massive. We stay focused on our community, where we’re rescuing children by reaching one mom (and dad, if possible) at a time. The impact of this decision will not take effect immediately. It may not take effect at all. This case may go to the Supreme Court. We don’t know yet if Supreme Court Justices will hear the case yet or if they’ll wait for a conflicting ruling from another court.

Since the ruling, Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, an outspoken enemy of pregnancy centers, have spoken out against the decision. Following the Dobbs decision, the HHS sent guidance to American retail pharmacies to distribute the abortion pill, irrespective of the SCOTUS decision. If they didn’t, they would face discrimination charges against “women and pregnant people.”

As the ADF puts it, “Unfortunately, for now, chemical abortion drugs remain approved and on the market.” They anticipate the case will go to SCOTUS.

In the meantime, our pregnancy medical centers will continue to see women with the same sense of urgency to abort, many of whom are looking for the abortion pill. We pray that we can impact them for life before they make this decision.

A Resurgence of Demonic Activity

The last time SCOTUS heard a major life case, a great deal of demonic activity surfaced in response. Since the Dobbs leak, 88 pregnancy centers and pro-life groups have been attacked. You’ll recall that our Manassas location was one of them.

Supreme Court Justices were high-profile targets. What would you do if you were a Justice and the last time you upheld the constitutional (and Biblical) sanctity of life there was an assassination attempt on your family? What if you found protestors outside of your home, night after night, and your property rights were not respected? By contrast, imagine how difficult it would be if you were a Supreme Court Justice, and you didn’t know what a woman was, and you were expected to make this decision?

How should those of us who are fighting for the unborn and for informed consent for women react? Should we celebrate? This is a win, and we are so grateful to those taking this on at the judicial level. We pray for them, and we invite you to pray as well. But we hope we all stay committed to what victory ultimately looks like and how far we are from an abortion free America.

If the decision stands, rather than being starved and expelled by abortion pill at 10 weeks with little to no medical intervention for the mother, (prayerfully fewer) children will be killed by being suctioned and scraped out of the mother’s womb during an in-clinic aspiration abortion procedure.

It’s important that we maintain our focus and a perspective that honors God. We hope this provides some clarity to the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling, and we pray the decision leads to brighter days to come. Regardless of what happens next, Life First will remain focused on our vision: that every woman and man struggling with an unplanned pregnancy would come through our doors and be transformed by Christ.

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The Truth about an NBC News’ Pregnancy Center Hit Piece

The Truth about an NBC News’ Pregnancy Center Hit Piece

The Truth about an NBC News' Pregnancy Center Hit Piece

Join me for an analysis of a recent NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/now/video/crisis-pregnancy-center-accused-of-misdiagnosing-woman-s-ectopic-pregnancy-185651781983) story. This fits into a wider narrative, and it’s a harbinger for pregnancy centers nationwide. It’s noteworthy that Massachusetts is home to a U.S. Senator who has called for pregnancy centers to be shut down across the state and the country.

The story features a lawsuit against a Massachusetts pregnancy center, Clearway Clinic, for an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, as well as the accusation that the patient was told the pregnancy was healthy.

We’re told that a month after the ultrasound, the patient was rushed to the ER with severe abdominal pain. The pregnancy was discovered to be ectopic, which means the fertilized egg (if you don’t take God as His Word, that’s a euphemism for baby) was growing outside of the uterus. While highly relevant to the story, we’re not told how far along the patient was when Clearway saw her. Most ectopics become symptomatic and are diagnosed between 6 and 8 weeks after the last menstrual period. Given the timeline we are presented with, the patient may have been as far along as 9 weeks when she was rushed to the hospital. That means, when Clearway saw her “a month earlier,” she would have been only 5 weeks. This is speculation on our part because none of those highly relevant details were shared in the story.

The story reports that ectopics are “serious, even deadly if left untreated.” This certainly is true, and we’ll come back to it.  

Identifying an Ectopic Pregnancy

The medical contributor interviewed, Dr. Natalie Azar, said the ectopic pregnancy “should have been spotted earlier.” The truth is, at 5 weeks gestation, no medical center or obstetrician can confirm an Intrauterine Pregnancy (IUP) or diagnose an ectopic with ultrasound. Dr. Azar may not know this, since her expertise is in arthritis and autoimmunity.

The truth is, at 5 weeks gestation, no medical center or obstetrician can confirm an Intrauterine Pregnancy (IUP) or diagnose an ectopic with ultrasound.

Obviously, we don’t know what the patient was told at Clearway, but given how early she probably was and how unlikely it is to see a baby in the uterus before 5 weeks, 5 days, it’s possible that she was told she had a Pregnancy of Unknown Location and to return in 1 week for a rescan. She may have even been told that everything looked as they would expect it to look for her gestation. All of that is crucial to understand what happened.

As the rheumatologist interviewed said, “With appropriate training and ultrasound that is performed correctly, there shouldn’t be any mistaking a viable intrauterine pregnancy from an ectopic pregnancy.”

The implication is that the person who did the scan was not appropriately trained or did not perform the scan correctly. We have no knowledge on this, of course, but here’s what we know. Ectopic pregnancies are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Dr. Azar must not know that, according to the NIH National Library of Medicine, an estimated 40% of ectopic pregnancies go undiagnosed on initial presentation. If a patient had an ectopic pregnancy, an empty uterus (or uterus with pseudo sac) would be seen on ultrasound. Laboratory data of serial qhCGs and diagnostic imaging are essential components of diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy. Sometimes ectopics can only be confirmed with laparoscopic surgery.

Let’s look at some of the accusations from the patient’s attorney:

  1. Clearway’s “central focus wasn’t on the woman’s health but on ensuring that she kept her pregnancy.”

The word choices are interesting. At no point in the story does the attorney or the news source refer to the “pregnancy” as a baby.

We don’t know what the approach is anywhere else, but the modus operandi of most pregnancy centers is that we provide the information and medical services a woman needs to make a fully informed choice. We educate her on all of her options. Naturally, as a Christian, Bible-believing ministry, our heart’s desire is that she would choose life for her baby, but we would never jeopardize her health or well-being. The health of each patient is paramount.

  1. Pregnancy centers have been a “long term and widespread barrier for women seeking information and medical care.”

The truth, for anyone willing to look, is just the opposite. Pregnancy centers offer factual information and medical best practices so that each patient can make an informed decision.  Patients who’ve had previous abortions, upon receiving information on the different abortion procedures, have told us, “I didn’t know all of that. Had I known, I wouldn’t have had my abortion. The abortion clinic never told me.”

Women who never had a chance to come to First Care Women’s Health have also told us, “If I had known a place like this existed, I never would have chosen abortion.”

The truth is, the forces of abortion must suppress the truth about what pregnancy centers do. The abortion industry is the one withholding information from the patient and posing a barrier to informed consent. But that’s what the other side does: they accuse the good guys of the things they are doing.

The abortion industry is the one withholding information from the patient and posing a barrier to informed consent.

  1. If no legal action is taken, there will be “nothing to keep these clinics from a pattern of deception and misinformation.”

Since pregnancy centers began in the 1960s, (Life First opened its doors in 1990) we’ve been under the microscope for any wrongdoing because our enemy is the accuser first identified in the garden. It’s sad to say, but we must see each patient as if she were going to take us to court. That doesn’t mean we do anything differently from what we are doing now. We treat everyone with love and compassion and offer the services they need. Our documentation must be flawless. The medical team must chart in great detail on each patient. We work in a God-given ministry. But as our nurse manager, Linda, who helped me fact check this, reminds us, we serve the Lord, but “stupid for Jesus is still stupid.”

Facts are Stubborn Things

If you’ve made it this far, well done! As we said, it’s estimated that 40% of ectopic pregnancies go undiagnosed on initial presentation, what about the ones that are diagnosed? We don’t have statistics, but some portion of those are diagnosed through ultrasound when the baby is older than 5 weeks, 5 days from last menstrual period. And here’s where the plot thickens, if we, collectively, really care about women’s health. In Massachusetts, as in Virginia, there is no requirement for a woman to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion. The abortion pill will not abort an ectopic pregnancy. That means if she has an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy and she takes the abortion pill, she still has an ectopic pregnancy. And, as our rheumatologist friend tell us, this can be “serious, even deadly if left untreated.” This is one of the many reasons why pregnancy medical services like those we provide are so important for women in crisis.

The story tells us there are 4,000 pregnancy centers in the US. That would be nice. That’s overblown by about 25%, if anyone is counting.

Finally, it’s an interesting part of the story to at least mention that Clearway was vandalized in the wake of the Dobbs decision last year. I guess if you’re going to spotlight what may just be an attack on a pregnancy center, you omit any mention of completely unjustifiable attacks. If you’ve never read a terribly biased and patronizing story about pregnancy centers and would like to try it out, you can find more from the “journalists” at Masslive here: (https://www.masslive.com/worcester/2022/07/janes-revenge-worcester-crisis-pregnancy-centers-problem-pregnancy-and-clearway-clinic-vandalized-with-spray-paint-windows-smashed.html)

What’s it Mean?

Getting past the noise, the signal in this story is: why is this airing on NBC News? Out of the millions of things happening in the world, why did this story get three entire coveted minutes before continuing into a pivot to the campaign trail with Nikki Haley and how voters respond to “reproductive rights?”

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
Hosea 14:9

Last year the attacks were vandalism, cyber attacks and orchestrated online viciousness. Next, I think we’ll see a shift to more frequent aggressive coordinated lawsuits. Ectopics are one of the places they plan to attack, but they are giving us tells of what their other lines of attack will be. Lawsuits are nothing new to pro-life work.

We never operate out of a spirit of fear, but we discern our times. Sometimes we’re pressured by well-intentioned allies to play it safe so we don’t draw enemy fire, even if it costs preborn lives and the furthering of the Gospel. We always operate out of the highest levels of integrity and excellence because our standard is God’s. And He has called us to this community to rescue those being led away to death, those staggering towards slaughter (Proverbs 24:11). I don’t know what the legal jurisdiction is of this case, but a rudimentary political understanding tells me that Massachusetts is welcome territory to harm those seeking to uphold life. And that sounds like precedent.

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Do You Want to Know the Truth?

Do You Want to Know the Truth?

Do You Want to Know the Truth?

CEO Becky Sheetz wants to tell you the truth. But only if you want to know. We’re announcing today, Do You Want to Know the Truth, an occasional opt-in email from the CEO that goes deeper into the truths about life-affirming work in our community. No gimmicks. We don’t want to send you emails you don’t wish to receive.

Topics around this work are blindingly polarizing. It can be difficult even for God’s people to discern truth and understand what facts, half truths and breaking developments really mean. The truth is, while we know we win in the end, and that we fight from a position of victory, we lose children to abortion each and every day in our community. Truly, none of the good guys even knows exactly how many children are killed daily or weekly in Prince William County and surrounding areas. The only data we have is that which is provided by the abortion industry. And Satan doesn’t have a really good track record with telling the truth.

When traffickers buy abortion pills in bulk, how many children are killed? When unregulated and unreported abortion pills are bought from oversees manufacturers, and delivered to terrified young women in our neighborhoods, how many children are killed? How many women are wounded emotionally and jeopardized physically in the name of “reproductive rights?”

Celebrating our wins honors God and our fellow laborers for life. Every child saved, every mom who chooses life, every prayer of salvation is a victory for the Kingdom of God, but the full truth is that those of us fighting for life are not gaining ground in this work. When you look at reported abortion numbers in Virginia, you’ll see that we continue to lose ground, even since Roe was overturned.

That brings me back to my point. We respect you enough to go beyond pithy headlines and feel-good slogans to tell you the more full truth, but truly, only if you want to read it. Opt in today to read occasional, and we do mean occasional (I’m busy and so are you), emails on highly-relevant topics like:

  • The impact of the Roe overturn here in Virginia
  • Why the FDA is being sued for failing to protect the health, safety and welfare of women and girls by approving chemical abortion drugs
  • Real-world manifestations of the spiritual battles at Life First
  • Analysis of the cultural narrative on “abortion rights”
  • Ways to pray for a mighty move of God in our centers and for a culture of life in our community

This is content that will not see much of the light of day on social media. That’s why we want to send it to your inbox. If you want to know the truth.

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