The following comes from an Aug. 8 story in Humboldt County’s Lost Coast Outpost.

Denyce Sheets, a genial and matronly nurse with buoyant hair the color of wet sand, puts her hand against a computer monitor where a grainy image glows night-vision blue.

“Have you ever seen an ultrasound?” she asks reverently. “I can’t deny what I see. I see it over and over.”

What does she see?

“I see a baby. I think this baby on the screen is about 18 weeks. You can see the trunk, arms, legs … and here are the little knees.” Patients here at J. Rophe Medical, she says, can “watch the baby suck its thumb and practically wave ‘hi.’ It’s phenomenal to me. It blows my mind over and over.”

J. Rophe Medical, the offspring of the 20-year-old Pregnancy Care Center of the North Coast, was licensed three years ago by the State of California to operate as a primary care facility, though its services are limited to pregnancy tests, obstetric ultrasounds and pregnancy options counseling.

Located between a chiropractor’s office and a diagnostic lab in the heart of Eureka’s medical district, the nondescript clinic has a sign out front advertising its no-cost services. Free care isn’t the only thing that differentiates J. Rophe Medical from other clinics. Its name offers a hint at the fundamental objectives: J. Rophe isn’t the supervising physician or resident doctor; it stands for Jehovah Rophe, a name God takes in the book of Exodus….

J. Rophe Medical, like the Pregnancy Care Center before it, has staked out a firm ideological position on one of the most polarizing issues in American culture: abortion. While their website, signs and advertisements don’t say so explicitly, the clinic’s services are delivered with a Christian, pro-life agenda that reveals itself in the materials and care offered patients.

The clinic is one of many across the country affiliated with Care Net, a nonprofit umbrella organization for anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers,” as well as the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which provides legal advice to such centers. There have been several legal and legislative challenges to crisis pregnancy centers, largely focused on deceptive advertising practices and false medical information. As of last year, crisis pregnancy centers outnumbered abortion providers in the U.S. roughly 2,500 to 1,800.

J. Rophe Medical and Pregnancy Care Center of the North Coast are funded through community donations and fundraisers. (The organizers of next month’s Humboldt County Mud Run, an athletic endurance event, will donate proceeds to the organizations.) In January 2012 the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously honored the partner organizations with a resolution praising their “life-affirming impact” and lauding them for giving women “complete and accurate information regarding their pregnancy options and the development of their unborn children.”

There’s not much middle ground in the abortion debate. People’s opinions are influenced by their upbringing, peer groups, politics, spiritual beliefs and ethical convictions. (Disclosure: Your correspondent is pro-choice and previously volunteered for Six Rivers Planned Parenthood.) Those on both sides can (and do) argue that science is on their side, and passions on the matter run so deep, given the primal underlying issues (pregnancy, self determination, the definition of life itself), that it can be tempting to manipulate or misrepresent scientific findings to conform to our beliefs….

Tisha Sloan, of Blue Lake, went in a few years after the center opened. She remembers being asked if she had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal lord and savior. “I think my answer was, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever,’” Stone recalled. She already knew she was pregnant and that she would keep it, but she still felt a degree of moral judgment. “If you’re at all pro-choice it would probably be a very difficult encounter,” she said….

To read the entire story, click here.