The Top 5 Legal Threats to Your Pregnancy Center … and How to Protect Against Them in 2019

Permanent End to California Law that Forced Pro-Life Centers to Advertise for Abortion
October 29, 2018
How Pregnancy Centers Can Overcome The “Fake Clinic” Myth
December 11, 2018
On October 30, 2018, NIFLA led hundreds of participants in a free online training session for pregnancy centers.

Tuesday’s live online training session focused on the top 5 legal threats to pregnancy centers and ways to protect against these threats in 2019.

If you missed this special pregnancy center training from the legal team behind NIFLA v. Becerra, you can register to hear the recording here.

The outline below contains highlights from this important presentation.

Legal Threat Number One: Deceptive Advertising

This threat originally stems from a 1982 campaign led by Planned Parenthood which attempted to discredit America’s pregnancy centers. Although investigations into these allegations later proved them to be unfounded, abortion industry advocates still attempt to malign pregnancy centers as “fake” in the present day.

Two closely related areas of concern include:

  1. Directly advertising or inferring that your center provides and/or refers for abortion.
  2. Implying in your advertising and/or website that you are a medical
    clinic and provide medical services when you are not.

NIFLA recommends that all center advertising and website copy be straight-forward and honest. Member centers can refer to NIFLA’s February 2018 Legal Tips for more information about what is appropriate in website copy and advertising.

Legal Threat Number Two: Improper Operation of a Medical Clinic

The definition of a medical clinic is: a facility that provides medical services under the direction and
supervision of a licensed physician.

Your pregnancy center should be aware of the following:

  1. Practicing medicine without a license – i.e., providing medical services such as ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy without the oversight of a physician – is never appropriate or recommended.
  2. Medical malpractice could also include a lack of proper training for personnel or going outside the scope of nurse services provided by licensing guidelines.

For more detail on these and other best practices, register to have your center’s medical staff attend NIFLA‘s Institute in Limited Obstetric Ultrasound.  This valuable training can help member centers avoid these and other costly legal mistakes.

Legal Threat Number Three: Ignoring Fundamental Corporate Requirements

In addition to avoiding the legal threats related to advertising and medical practice mentioned above, each center should ensure that their corporate paperwork, structure and procedures follow recommended guidelines.

Pregnancy centers can be exposed to risk in this area in many ways, including the following:

  1. Failure to file annual 990 returns;
  2. Failure to file state annual reports; and
  3. Failure to follow organization bylaws.

NIFLA membership includes support for corporate requirements and many other common pregnancy center legal needs. If you have questions about how your center can become a NIFLA member, please be sure to visit NIFLA‘s new members page.

Legal Threat Number Four: Poor Employment Practices

Careless employment practices could pose just as much of a legal threat to your organization from the inside as other problems could from the outside.

Centers should:

  1. Develop and maintain an employment manual.
  2. Avoid improperly firing employees and and triggering wrongful termination of employment lawsuits.
  3. Develop and maintain a conflict of interest policy.

Legal Threat Number Five: Failure to Build Relationships with Elected Representatives 

Hostile legislation that negatively impacts your center’s ability to serve women is more likely to be passed when pregnancy centers do not have enough active supporters in local and state government.

However, it is important to note:

  1. 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities may not endorse and/or oppose candidates for political office.
  2. NIFLA recommends that centers build personal relationships with local legislators.
  3. NIFLA also provides materials, news coverage and up-to-date statistics to help members raise public awareness about the many benefits pro-life pregnancy centers provide in America’s commuities.

Leveraging NIFLA‘s unmatched legal expertise is a sure way to get ahead of these and other legal threats before they start. To learn more about why your pregnancy center needs NIFLA in its corner, please visit NIFLA‘s new membership page.

NIFLA‘s next online training will be held on December 4 and is titled “Overcoming the Fake Clinic Myth.” Stay tuned for more details, and we hope to see you there!