SOCIAL ISSUES

The rise of family-planning clinics located in or near America’s high schools is a source of growing concern among parents and educators alike. But a clinic that dispenses contraceptives to students from T. C. Williams High School has taken the practice a step further—it operates out of a church.

The Fairlington Teen Health Center in Alexandria, Virginia, provides free pregnancy tests, birth-control devices, and abortion referrals. Gail Frances, a registered nurse, opened the nonprofit clinic last year at Fairlington United Methodist Church. Set up in a former Sunday school classroom, the clinic is visited by as many as six girls a day.

Frances, a Roman Catholic who founded the first abortion clinic in Virginia, is part-owner of one family-planning and abortion clinic and president of another, the Annandale Women’s Center. “I think what we’re doing [at the Fairlington clinic] is a very Christian and a very meaningful outreach to the kids,” she said. “I think it belongs in the church.”

In addition to offering contraceptives, the Fairlington clinic provides sports exams, nutritional information, and routine lab tests. However, 60 percent of its services involve contraception. If a test indicates a girl is pregnant, Frances said, the girl is asked how she wants to handle the situation. If she says she wants an abortion, the girl is told about several area clinics, including Frances’s own Annandale Women’s Center. Parents are not notified if their daughter plans to obtain an abortion.

Fairlington United Methodist Church is one of only two churches known to have opened their doors to clinics that provide students with contraceptives and abortion referrals. The ...

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