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Pro-life “crisis pregnancy centre” opens under ¼ mile from Chalmers Health Centre

An American-style “crisis pregnancy centre” has opened less than a quarter of a mile from Chalmers Health Centre, The Student can reveal.

Called “SHE Pregnancy Support”, the pregnancy centre opened yesterday in a storefront on Home Street, a few seconds from Tollcross.

It sits just over 300 metres from Chalmers Health Centre, an abortion clinic and reproductive health centre run by NHS Lothian.

The centre’s location puts it outside of a potential 150 metre buffer zone around Chalmers’ entrances.

Gillian MacKay MSP (Green), who recently introduced a buffer zone bill to Scottish Parliament, said to The Student:

“There’s real concerns about regulation of businesses like these and action needs taken quickly to address these concerns.

“The proximity of this outlet to Chalmers Health Centre causes genuine potential for confusion.

“I will liaise with NHS Lothian and my Scottish Greens colleagues in the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh Council to prevent confusion and ensure everyone has the correct information about services and their care.”

Speaking to The Student in previous reporting about the centre, Lucy Grieve, co-founder of Back Off Scotland, said:

“The opening of a ‘pregnancy crisis centre’ in Scotland should worry us all. These clinics are known to push harmful propaganda and act as a barrier to legitimate abortion care.

“Those accessing abortion need evidence-based care, anything less does not have a place in modern-day Scotland.”

Map showing proximity of SHE Pregnancy Support to Chalmers Centre (Student staff)

Back Off Scotland directed The Student to a letter it wrote to Scotland’s charity regulator in 2021 which opposed the granting of Stanton Healthcare (East of Scotland), the charity behind the clinic, charitable status.

The letter said: “It is our opinion that Stanton is an organisation with a long history of misleading women, providing erroneous clinical information to clients, and seeking to make political points through the exploitation of vulnerable people.”

The charity behind the clinic lists its fundamental beliefs in its incorporation documents in part as “the promotion of a pro-life philosophy.”

On its website, SHE Pregnancy Support describes itself as a service to help with “whatever you need … through your pregnancy and beyond.”

High on their homepage, the website reads: “We’re here to provide you with alternatives to abortion with advice, and practical help. 

“We exist to help women who need support in continuing their pregnancy. We can provide on-going support and information throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born as well.”

Stanton Healthcare’s other clinic in the UK, located in Belfast, has been criticised for misleading visitors into believing that they provided terminations and that abortions can cause cancer and infertility.

Stanton Healthcare Belfast, which opened about 300 metres from a reproductive healthcare facility in the city. Copyright 2022 Google, used with permission.

SHE Pregnancy Support told The Student that they do not believe abortions cause breast cancer, and disputed the validity of the Times article that led to the claims.

However, they did not dispute the claim made that abortions can cause infertility in their comment.

The centre told The Student: “We’ve repeatedly asked the Times to substantiate a 2018 story from Belfast and they have been unable to do so. As you’ll see from the latest Sunday Times article they have now have dropped this allegation.”

The Student has contacted The Times for clarification.

SHE Pregnancy Support said to The Student: “The main driver of abortion in Edinburgh is poverty and women from deprived areas have abortion rates double those of nice places like Bruntsfield or Morningside.

“No woman wants to be forced into to abortion by circumstances but, as the cost of living crisis gets worse, this is the reality for many women in our city.

“Tragically, they tell us they feel they have ‘no choice.’

SHE Pregnancy Support continued to say that they provided expectant mothers with “practical alternatives to abortion”, alongside help with baby supplies and social care advice.

“All our help is free, private and confidential.”

The charity is linked to Stanton International, an offshoot of American pro-life group and crisis pregnancy centre operator Stanton Healthcare.

Founded in 2006 by pro-life activist Brandi Swindell, the group has centres in Idaho, California, and Michigan, as well as a mobile crisis pregnancy centre.

It has previously been sued by US reproductive health nonprofit Planned Parenthood over what it said was attempts by Stanton to misdirect people trying to access abortion and other reproductive health services at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Idaho.

The nonprofit lost the case on unclear grounds.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh is involved in publicising the centre, previously telling The Student:

“The Archdiocese endorses all manner of pro-life organisations which offer women alternatives to abortion should they want it. We look forward to seeing this pregnancy support centre open soon.”

The spokesman had also told The Student that it had no formal ties to the pregnancy centre.

Image via Student staff.