Delaney has told other friends with unplanned pregnancies to come to Clear Choice. They’ve all decided to continue their pregnancies. That’s what Pastor Daniel Lambert and a few women in his church, equipped only with a case of pregnancy tests and a cell phone, hoped for when they launched Hope Pregnancy Ministries 20 years ago.
Hope now operates two branches: Clear Choice Clinic and Hope Family Resource Center. Both are in Kalispell, a city of 22,000 near Glacier National Park that is home to blue-collar coal miners and loggers, transient young people who work during the tourist season, and a growing population of wealthy West Coasters moving to the mountains.
Walk into Clear Choice Clinic and you’re ushered into a lobby that looks like a comfortable living room with wide cushy chairs and a couch. Sunlight streams through tall windows. That comfortable feel extends throughout the facility: When a woman arrives for her free appointment, she’s escorted into a cozy consultation room with two wide floral chairs, rather than into an exam room.
During the hourlong appointment a staff member talks a woman through each of her options—parenting, adoption, and abortion. The clinic wants women with unplanned pregnancies to reclaim the word “choice” from a culture that often says there is only one option when facing an unplanned pregnancy. The calligraphic art at the clinic entrance underscores the message: “Knowledge is Power.”
Clear Choice doesn’t stock Bibles in the waiting rooms, display Bible verses on the walls in client areas, or play Christian music through the speakers. Executive Director Michelle Reimer doesn’t want to alienate non-Christians, and the surveys clients fill out later typically include phrases like “respectful of my views” and “I feel like I have options.”
Much of the counseling is like what other pro-life counseling centers provide. The clinic offers ultrasounds to women who are six weeks pregnant, which makes them Medicaid eligible. It provides paperwork on the spot. If she wants, a woman can receive follow-up texts, further consultations, or an adoption agency referral.
BUT CLEAR CHOICE IS DIFFERENT from some other pro-life centers in four ways. First, if a woman asks where she can get an abortion, staff members don’t pretend not to know: They honestly say the nearest abortion business is an hour away. Clear Choice does not give information beyond that. “All she has to do is go to her cell phone and google ‘abortion Montana,’” Reimer says. “If she feels [misled], we may lose credibility in other areas.”
Credibility is important in a hostile pro-abortion culture. In 2014, the troubled son of a Hope Pregnancy Ministries board member vandalized Kalispell’s one abortion clinic. The story made local and national news, with one press headline associating Clear Choice with “anti-abortion extremists.” Despite the bad publicity, patient numbers didn’t drop and support didn’t waver. Reimer credits that to the strong relationship Hope Pregnancy Ministries has with local churches. Seventy out of 100 churches in the Flathead Valley support Hope Pregnancy Ministries.
Second, when Clear Choice realized its vulnerability, it pursued medical accreditation from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), a nonprofit leader in developing standards that promote patient safety. To achieve accreditation Clear Choice had to meet 550 procedural and safety standards, more than most abortion clinics and outpatient clinics meet.