Letter to the Editor, The Bravo Center

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary a clinic is a facility for diagnosis and treatment of outpatients, a group practice in which several physicians work cooperatively, a facility that offers professional services or consultation usually at discounted rates. The New Paltz Oracle article is inaccurate and uninformed. The Bravo Center is not a clinic. We have no physicians, we do no diagnosis or treatment of the clients and everything is free and confidential. We do not advertise that we offer healthcare.

As Executive Director of the Center, I must take objection to being called a clinic and that we give medical advice to our clients. As a graduate of SUNY Oswego, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a former freelance writer, I know that as a reporter, getting facts accurate is imperative. The Bravo Center has never been medical and has nothing to do with giving healthcare to women. When clients ask us for medical advice, we tell them to ask their doctors. When your article states that there is no reproductive healthcare in New Paltz, that is incorrect. The Institute For Family Health is also on Main Street in New Paltz. They do women’s and men’s healthcare there. Many students go there, and they turn no one away, even if they have no insurance. CareMount Medical also has an office there. I’m not going to hold anyone’s hand and tell them how to get an abortion in the area because of my personal beliefs. I think most of you can figure it out on your own, and I believe that anyone who does come to see us, would see the truth that we do not coerce, that we do not brainwash and that we do not hold clients captive until they relent and repent. It’s comical to think that we use tactics to hold women captive until they see things “our way.” If anything, we support a woman’s right to make decisions for herself.

Here’s what we really do at the center. We see all women and men who really want help. We are not homophobes, we are not racists, we are not liars and it’s a shame if you think that’s true. As a journalist who wants to know the truth, you could just disguise yourself as a client and come in and see how we treat people and what we do when clients come in. Or you could just come in and ask us what we do, interview us and have a discussion with us. We have some lesbian clients and we see people of all races. We see many Muslim women, some of our clients are dirty and smelly, and we see clients who have religion and those with no religion. They are all treated the same, which is with love and respect. Another fallacy is that we get government funds, which we do NOT. All our funds come from fundraisers and donations from people who care like we do.

We offer free pregnancy tests, which we do not touch and the clients read them themselves. Many of our clients are happy when it’s a yes. If they are not and they are thinking abortion, we give them information on all three choices. We do NOT tell them about the steps of an abortion or show any graphic pictures. We tell them about parenting and adoption as options also, and how we can help if they want it.

We work with 23 social service agencies in Ulster County. These include DSS, Protective Child Services, the local battered women’s shelter, YWCA, Healthy Families, Head Start, Family of New Paltz, just to name a few. They bring clients to us, and they almost always sit in the interview room with the client. Most of these clients are here for baby things, but some do come for the pregnancy tests. All these social workers love what we do, and they often bring several different clients to us. We do talk about God and that he can help them. If they don’t want to hear about God, we do not pursue it and continue to treat them like every other client.

I know that you have scrutinized our website, but if you notice, the first paragraph states that we do not do abortions or refer for abortions. Does a college student who really wants an abortion, go to us after reading that? Also on that front page we state that we are a not-for-profit, non-partisan, Christian organization. I think that would deter most students looking for abortions. So, we do not disguise who we are or what we believe in. We also never talk politics with our clients and Roe vs. Wade never comes up in our center.

The page on the website that gives abortion information doesn’t seem graphic at all. Anytime a person goes for a medical procedure, the doctor must by law tell all the possible scenarios. I’ve had a couple of procedures with anesthesia, and the doctors told me of all the possible side effects of the anesthesia and the procedure itself. Also if you watch commercials on television when they advertise drugs, they give a laundry list of possible side effects. Most of the time the side effects don’t happen, but by law once again they want to protect themselves just in case something does happen. I would hate for a woman to have an abortion and not be told what to watch for after.

As I said, most of our clients come for baby things. At this time, we are doing a warm coat and snowsuit drive, and we are asking people to donate new toys for Christmas. Our clients are so grateful for the help. When the clients come in we do take them to our interview room. We are not counselors, even though I have been through counseling training at Regent University and hold a certificate of completion for the courses. We are peer counselors. This means that our job is to listen to the clients. Often they come from rough situations and they are so grateful that they have someone to share their burdens with. We do no counseling and as peers we have conversation like two friends, only in this case we keep our conversations confidential. The women who come to us know that they can trust us, and they feel the love and compassion.

So, I would hope that you could give us a second chance discovering that we are not as bad and as threatening as you think. We may have different beliefs in many aspects of our lives, but that’s what makes us human beings. We all have feelings, want to be loved and desire to be respected for who we are. I may not agree with what you say, but I would never accuse you of being someone you’re not. The wonderful thing about the human race is that we are all unique, we all have gifts and talents and callings upon our lives. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but not at the expense of hurting others and causing pain, especially when it’s not deserved. Thanks for remembering that we are human just like you.