“You have a big mouth” Elias Pelletieri, Saranac Lake Development Board Member, spat at me during last week’s Development Board meeting. The comment came at the end of my public comment opposing the Adirondack Pregnancy Center’s proposal, which seeks to locate at 20 Academy Street in downtown Saranac Lake. During the comment period, I raised my concerns, to a predominantly male board, about the devastating impact that the creation of such a center could have on reproductive rights. I choose to take Pelletieri’s comment as a compliment and continue to use it “big mouth” to publicize the project and detail my concerns about it.
Many may wonder why a reproductive rights defender is fighting against the creation of a pregnancy center. At first glance, facilities like the Adirondack Pregnancy Center may seem like a good resource for a community, but in reality, such facilities are commonly referred to as Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) and are run by anti-choice organizations. The missions of CPCs are to eliminate choice by forcing women not to have an abortion. Rather than being accredited medical institutions, they are run and funded by religious and anti-choice organizations.
So what is the Adirondack Pregnancy Center?
The Adirondack Pregnancy Center, despite having a board of representatives and a clear plan for settling in Saranac Lake, has no publicly available information beyond what was presented to the Development Board this week. last. If established, representatives of the center say they would provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes and counseling options. There was no mention of providing the community with birth control options to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place or resources for support once a baby is born. They partner with local religious institutions for funding and to recruit religious leaders to provide denominational counseling at the center. Finally, the center declared to be affiliated with Heartbeat International.
What is Heartbeat International?
Formerly known as “Alternatives to abortion” they are an international organization of the CPC whose mission is to advance “Help with pregnancy to assert life” and abort “Unthinkable for future generations”. Their information “medical” the brochures cite quotes from the Bible as a source of medical information. They bombard online search engines to show their links at the top and hide links from real healthcare establishments. They categorically support legislation that blocks women’s access to health care. They have been prosecuted several times for disseminating misleading and outright false information. They are a danger to women and a danger to our community.
Saranac Lake is just one of many communities in the United States and around the world facing the onslaught of CPCs. Currently in the United States, CPCs outnumber 2 to 1 abortion providers, with this ratio jumping as high as 10 to 1 in some states. If established, the Adirondack Pregnancy Center would be the first on the Blue Line.
The tactics used by CPCs to coerce women are numerous.
They lie to scare women. Many studies have challenged the “facts” used by CPCs and documented the continued use of such false information by the centers. CPCs warn against “Dangers” of abortion, when in reality carrying a pregnancy to term is much more dangerous than having an abortion, which is a very safe and common procedure, with extremely rare complications. In contrast, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world and is the only developed country that continues to see this rate increase. This maternal mortality rate is rising dangerously higher for women of color.
CPCs deceive women into believing that they are medical facilities that provide abortion services. They advertise themselves as facilities that offer abortions to lure people to their doorstep with misleading names, advertising, evasive phone calls and having staff wear medical clothing such as lab coats and glasses. white coats. It can be almost impossible for those on the outside to distinguish these bogus installations from the real ones. This misleading presentation of these facilities is so pervasive that there is currently a bill underway in the State Senate that would require more transparent disclosure from CPCs about the services they provide and do not provide; New York City has already passed similar legislation. CPCs themselves stop short of being designated as medical institutions and therefore pose as medical institutions while not being subject to regulatory oversight, licensing and accreditation. This presents a dangerous situation for those seeking help with pregnancy believing that these centers are licensed medical facilities when in reality these unregulated centers can legally say whatever they want. Many CPCs also perform ultrasounds; However, in many states, including New York City, they are not required to have trained technicians to perform the scans and often use ultrasounds as a tool for emotional manipulation rather than a real medical test.
They set up near legitimate women’s health centers in order to get patients from real centers to enter the CPC. The proposed location of this center? Five hundred feet from Planned Parenthood of Saranac Lake.
CPCs stop providing assistance to women who visit their facilities after a baby is born, which means they are not helping women with the financial burden of parenting. One of the most cited reasons for having an abortion is the inability to pay for a child. The majority of women who request an abortion are already mothers and are therefore well aware of the impact that another child would have on their lives. Women who did not wish to have an abortion experience economic hardship that can last for years and are more likely to enroll in public assistance programs.
Women deserve to have access to accurate, complete and impartial medical information to help them make their own decisions. The establishment of the Adirondack Pregnancy Center will have a severe impact on their ability to do so.
A few days after the Development Board meeting, I was told during a routine dental check-up that I actually had a small mouth. It’s amazing how different information can be when provided by a true impartial professional.
Carolyn Koestner lives in Saranac Lake.