An Open Letter From Claris Health

July 1, 2022

Polarizing views surrounding sexual and reproductive health in the United States continue to permeate society. The topics of abortion and unintended pregnancy have become deeply political, controversial topics and, as a nation, our focus has shifted toward debating and attacking sides instead of caring for people. This is more true now than ever with the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Today, the pro-life and pro-choice movements dominate both the messaging of and the approach to sexual and reproductive health itself, and people feel pressured to describe themselves and their beliefs using these labels. These labels may function accurately in capturing political ideology, but the terms pro-life and pro-choice are too polarizing, too divisive, and practically unhelpful when it comes to reaching and caring for those who are facing an unintended pregnancy.

These same groups that identify themselves as pro-life and pro-choice often attempt to attach labels to Claris Health (Claris) or to force us to identify with one ideology or another. Claris refuses to be pulled into these political divides.

Instead, Claris’ philosophy focuses on common ground principles that exist between pro-life and pro-choice groups, transcending either of these labels. We call it the Claris Way. The Claris Way seeks to create a community better equipped to serve, support, and come alongside those at-risk of or facing unintended pregnancies so that they come to a deep understanding of all the options available to them.

To be clear, Claris does not perform abortions or advocate for or against abortions. Similarly, we do not facilitate or advocate for or against adoptions. Claris’ role is to provide information to our patients on all of the options so patients can make the best decision for them. Our services include Parenting Program, Pregnancy Testing, STD/STI Testing, Well Woman Exam, Therapy, Resources & Referrals, Prenatal Care, Ultrasound Imaging, Health Screenings, Education Services, Pregnancy Loss & Support.

Despite our philosophy, approach to care, and outstanding reputation in the community, Claris is often targeted as a “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” a label used to accuse agencies of misleading marketing, deceptive and unsafe healthcare practices, limited services, and other judgmental and manipulative tactics. These accusations fuel negative and inaccurate media and political messages.
As a result:

    1. The Claris Mobile Medical Unit has been uninvited to health events where we were the only medical providers scheduled to perform well woman exams, STI testing and treatment, and general health screenings.
    2. We have lost funding opportunities.
    3. There have been repeated attempts through fake patients, fake online reviews, targeted city and state laws, political pressure, and smear campaigns to publicly distort the excellent community reputation that Claris Health has held for more than 46 years.

I want to be clear that none of these accusations are from patients or others who have genuinely experienced the medical care and support services that Claris Health provides for free or at low-cost to the community. Claris continues to be known as a safe space for patients to process all of their pregnancy options. Patients regularly share that Claris is the most welcoming, non-judgmental clinic that they have ever visited. Thousands of exit surveys indicate that patients at Claris feel heard and accepted, no matter what their pregnancy decision is. When false narratives are allowed to continue, the people who get hurt the most are the people who need the services of Claris Health.

These “Crisis Pregnancy Center” assumptions are largely based on internet links that have been created without our permission. We do not endorse, condone, or partner with any of these organizations, and we have requested that they remove us from their listings. Unfortunately, due to fair use policies, they are currently able to keep our name in their databases without our consent.

As an example of false associations, organizations such as Reproaction, an abortion activist organization, created a database of agencies nationwide that they consider “anti-abortion fake clinics.”  Their list largely originated from published online directories created by Heartbeat International, a network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers, and others. Heartbeat International claims the Directory is intended to provide resources to pregnant women, and they include their affiliated agencies as well as unaffiliated agencies such as Claris Health. It is largely used by abortion rights groups to identify so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” We contacted both Reproaction and Heartbeat International after learning about these unauthorized listings. Despite our requests and evidence that we do not fit these labels, they both refuse to remove us. We therefore continue to be targeted, wrongly associated, and misrepresented to the public.

I want to take this opportunity to dispel these “Crisis Pregnancy Center” myths and to be very clear about who Claris is and who we are not. I refuse to continue to allow these extreme groups on either side of the political spectrum to control the narrative of our clinic or to label us as anything other than what we are. Here are a few highlights:

    • Claris Health is a primary care clinic, licensed by the State of California and accredited by AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care), that offers valuable medical, mental health, and support services to individuals and families throughout Los Angeles County and beyond.
    • Claris Health provides a full-range of reproductive-health services performed by a team of reputable Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and Physician Assistants. Our Medical Director is Board-certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal medicine.
    • We sit on committees with the LA Department of Public Health, we have received funding from the city to provide free STI testing to under-resourced communities, and we have over 250 community partners that provide services that broaden the continuum of care.
    • Claris’ prenatal care program (Centering Pregnancy) is praised for lowering rates of infant and maternal mortality, and our Mobile Medical Unit was critical in providing innovative services during the pandemic.
    • We are transparent with patients, donors, volunteers, and the public about who we are and which services we do and do not provide. We do not perform abortions at Claris Health. It is not uncommon for women’s health clinics to not provide pregnancy terminations. In fact, several of the health centers and hospitals in West and South LA do not provide this service. Patients who choose to terminate their pregnancies are aware of which clinics in the area provide that service and know how to seek that care. Claris continues to provide a safe space for women to process all of their pregnancy options.

Claris means clarity, and that’s what we will continue to provide to those we are privileged to serve. We consider it an honor to care for the people of Los Angeles and many others across the nation as our boundaries expand. Extreme groups will always focus on political issues, creating a bigger divide. Instead, Claris will focus on the individual lives caught between both sides. We will fight for them, and we will always provide comprehensive, loving, nonjudgmental care regardless of the laws or agendas in place. People in need deserve to know that they have options, and most importantly that they are not alone. This is the Claris Way.

For Bright Futures,

Talitha Phillips, CEO

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