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National Legal Summit
Created Equal: Reflections on the Unalienable Right to Life

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions regarding prolife medical clinics:

  1. What is a Pregnancy Medical Clinic (PMC)?
    A Pregnancy Medical Clinic (PMC) is a Pregnancy Resource Clinic, sometimes referred to as a “crisis pregnancy center” or “CPC”, which has converted its operations to provide medical services to clients. A center must be a licensed medical clinic under the laws of the state in which it operates. Unless dictated otherwise by state statutory regulations, a “medical clinic” is defined as a facility which provides medical services under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician.
     
  2. How complicated is it to become licensed as a medical clinic?
    Only a few states (California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York) have detailed and complicated licensing requirements for a center to be acknowledged as a "medical clinic". In these states, the clinics must comply with the regulations and a state inspection is required. However, most states do not have such regulations. In these, the only legal requirement to be a clinic is to have a physician (MD or DO) who is licensed to practice medicine in the state serve as the Medical Director and supervise all of the medical services being offered. The legality of the center providing medical services flows from the legality of this physician to practice medicine under his or her medical license.
     
  3. Are there federal laws governing the operations of a PMC?
    Federal OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) standards apply to all such clinics. In addition, a federal law known as CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) also applies and the proper paperwork must be completed to satisfy such requirements.
     
  4. If our center becomes a medical clinic, will we cease to provide crisis intervention counseling?
    No! A PMC continues to provide crisis intervention counseling for women. By “converting to a medical clinic” a center is not changing its mission. Rather, it is enhancing the mission by attracting, reaching and serving at risk women with the professional medical services that are needed.
     
  5. What medical services are offered by a PMC?
    The basic medical services provided are limited in scope; however they give a woman in crisis pregnancy information to enable her to make a fully informed decision. Such services usually are limited to pregnancy diagnosis and ultrasound examination to determine the viability of the pregnancy. Some clinics offer STI testing. A few clinics offer prenatal care; however, most Pregnancy Resource Centers refer clients to private physicians for prenatal care.
     
  6. Why should our center consider making a conversion to a PMC?
    The medical services offered by a PMC are attracting more clients than ever before. With the use of ultrasound, clinics can confirm pregnancy and establish its viability immediately. A non-medical Pregnancy Resource Center cannot provide such a diagnosis since doing so would be practicing medicine. By offering STI testing, women can receive immediate help and care for health problems. Because of these services, centers which have made the conversion to medical clinic status are reporting major increases in the numbers of clients they are seeing on a monthly basis, as well as a dramatic increase in the number of clients choosing life.
     
  7. Is this kind of conversion expensive?
    Yes. The expense of making such a conversion will vary depending on a number of factors. If the zoning and building codes where a center is located requires changes in the facility before it can serve as a medical clinic, then such expenses must be incurred. Likewise, additional expense will be incurred through the hiring of a Nurse Manager to run the clinic. However, it has been our experience that when a Pregnancy Resource Center shares it vision of “going medical” with its community and supporters, the additional funds needed are raised to meet these expenses.
     
  8. Must a center convert to medical clinic status before providing ultrasound services?
    The provision of ultrasound services is the practice of medicine. Ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure which must be supervised and directed by a licensed physician experienced in ultrasound. Hence, before your center can provide medical services, such as the ultrasound, you must be licensed as a medical clinic and have a licensed physician serve as Medical Director and oversee the provision of ultrasound services.
     
  9. Who can perform ultrasound examinations at our center if we become a medical clinic?
    Ultrasound services must be directed and supervised by a licensed physician who is familiar with the technology and can review each exam given. Other healthcare professionals, such Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants, can legally perform ultrasound examinations under the supervision of a licensed physician. NIFLA provides a training course for nurses in limited obstetric ultrasound to enable them to provide such service. Ultimately, the exam undertaken is the responsibility of the overseeing physician who must review the results of each exam.
     
  10. How can NIFLA help our center make this conversion and offer medical services?
    NIFLA has a published a manual, The Pregnancy Medical Clinic, which outlines the necessary, steps in converting your operations to provide medical services. The manual comes with a CD which contains the necessary policies and procedures to satisfy federal OSHA standards as well as checklists, job descriptions and organizational flow charts to guide you in this process. This manual can be ordered from NIFLA (to order, go to Member Products).
     
    In addition, NIFLA offers The Life Choice Project (TLC), a comprehensive program which provides all the necessary elements to convert to medical status. The benefit of TLC to your center is the guidance from an experienced NIFLA consultant to guide you in every aspect of your conversion process. Upon request, NIFLA will send you an information packet which explains TLC.
     
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