According to the United States Census Bureau, female persons account for 56.8 percent of the New Paltz population. However, there is not one accessible reproductive health care center for women within the area. A quick Google search reveals that reproductive health care is barren in the town. There are no reproductive care centers for women to access birth control, a safe abortion or other matters that pertain to the reproductive well-being in the Town or Village of New Paltz.
The International Socialist Organization (ISO) at New Paltz has recognized this lack of valuable and essential health care. In particular, they have discovered a fake clinic, an anti-abortion counseling center that employs scare tactics to dissuade women from getting an abortion, and instead carry out a pregnancy to term.
The Bravo Center, or Pregnancy Support Center of Ulster County is located on 246 Main Street, with a second location in Kingston. The Center is the first search result when one looks up abortion or female healthcare in New Paltz, but medical assistance is not on their agenda. Advertisements placed on the campus’ health center read that they offer “accurate information about pregnancy, material resources, free and confidential services and information on abortion, adopting and parenting.”
With persuasive language that promotes accurate information regarding options, pregnancy tests, affordability, etc, one may see these advertisements as a viable option. However, the Center’s website makes a clear case against abortion. While the parenting section shows support, such as providing counselors, material resources and “baby boutiques,” and adoption being promoted as “a positive impact on your career, education, financial stability and relationships,” the option of abortion is clearly meant to shame and scare those who are considering it.
“For many women, [abortion] is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional and spiritual consequences,” the site states. “Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion, its risks and the impact it may have had on their lives before they made their decision.”
What follows this unequivocal denouncement of abortion is a list of different abortion procedures, which are described in overtly graphic and grisly detail, with heavily dramatized risks that are not medically accurate.
The site includes a horribly inaccurate description of a D&E (dilation and evacuation) procedure, which the center refers to as a “partial-birth abortion.” This procedure is incredibly common and regarded as low-risk. Additionally, partial-birth abortion is not an accepted medical term and is not used by abortion practitioners or the medical community at large. Both the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists disapprove the use of this term, due to its medical and scientific inaccuracy.
Furthermore, the Center’s site states that “there may be a link between abortion and later development of breast cancer.” This assumption has been thoroughly debunked. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”
We at The New Paltz Oracle believe that access to accurate information regarding pregnancy, abortion and contraception is as foundational any other form of health care. Safe and accessible abortion is imperative to the well-being of women, and it remains as legal as other medical procedures.
Fear, intimidation and guilt should not be used to coerce women into keeping unwanted pregnancies. In a town of more than 14,000 residents, it is imperative to have a reproductive health care in which women have access to medically accurate sex education, contraception and safe abortions, regardless of race, sexual orientation, age and economic status.
In addition to promoting false information regarding abortion procedures, the center uses various methods to emotionally manipulate their incoming patients. The center argues that a urine test is not enough to determine pregnancy; therefore, an ultrasound must be performed to confirm pregnancy. However, science shows that urine tests are 97 percent effective when administered correctly. Additionally, blood tests are also incredibly effective for determining pregnancy.
In a Think Progress article, Director of Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University Kimberly Kelly, said that so-called “support centers” that perform low diagnostic ultrasounds are not true medical professionals.
“They’re just providing an image of the fetus hoping that the woman will bond with it and that will prevent her from having an abortion, which you could consider emotional coercion,” Kelly said.
The Bravo Center website does indeed make it clear they do not provide nor refer patients for abortions, as they are affiliated with CareNet — formerly known as the Christian Action Council. CareNet is an evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy center organization.
As a pro-life organization, these centers seek to dissuade patients from having an abortion. They are the nation’s largest affiliation network of pregnancy centers, with a network of over 1,000 affiliated pregnancy centers in all fifty states and Canada.
However, the information provided by The Bravo Center about abortion is not accurate; rather, the site seeks to intimidate and instill fear in an already vulnerable person faced with a life-changing decision.
The lack of reproductive health care in New Paltz is reprehensible. There are no places to access abortion or contraceptives, which is unacceptable, given the fact that this is a college town with a predominantly female student population. If faced with an uncomfortable reproductive choice, a New Paltz resident’s only option would be to go to a Planned Parenthood outside of town, in Kingston or Poughkeepsie.
Additionally, Planned Parenthoods do not only deal with pregnancy. Basic women’s health needs are also addressed, such as breast exams, STD testing and accurate sexual health information that pertains to different sexual orientations and genders.
Without access to a car or means for alternate transportation, women will not be able to access the reproductive care they direly need.
Furthermore, by allowing fake clinics such as these to remain in our area, we are neglecting healthcare for over half of our population. This burden falls on poor women, young women and women who live in rural areas. If they have no family for support or guidance, these women are alone and faced with a terrible lot of choices — one of these choices, of course, would be The Bravo Center.
We at The Oracle implore the Town of New Paltz to provide reproductive health care for students and the community. The addition of a reproductive health center in town would provide a safe, educationally accurate facility for women to make the best decisions for themselves.
At the very least, we request that the health center on campus cease advertisement of the Pregnancy Support Center. Although there is not another reproductive health center in town, promotion of Planned Parenthood or another medically unbiased organization would be hugely beneficial to those seeking contraception and abortion information.
We recognize that due to SUNY New Paltz’s status as a state university, these ideas may take time to take hold. However, we firmly believe that access to unbiased and scientifically accurate reproductive healthcare is our right as well as the right of our community and country.