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Stop the Adirondack Pregnancy Center

The Adirondack Pregnancy Center is a crisis pregnancy center. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are anti-choice organizations that try to convince women not to have an abortion. Despite presenting themselves as legitimate health care facilities, CPCs do not provide women with “comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options.” (https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/why-crisis-pregnancy-centers-are-legal-unethical/2018-03)

The Adirondack Pregnancy Center has flown under the radar since receiving approval and the designation of “hospital” — an insult to legitimate health care facilities — from the Saranac Lake Development Board in March of this year.

While trying to learn more about the Adirondack Pregnancy Center, I ran into some dead ends, as the center has almost no web presence. However, I was able to find some information about the center, and I’d like to share some of what I learned with the readers of this paper.

I’ve received email confirmation from Sara Littlefield, the grant program specialist of Heartbeat International’s Ministry Service’s Team, that the Adirondack Pregnancy Center is an affiliate of Heartbeat International. Resources like Heartbeat’s “Talking About Abortion” have already been purchased on behalf of the Adirondack Pregnancy Center. (Image 3)

“Talking About Abortion” contains blatant lies like “abortion also doubles the risk of breast cancer.” (https://youtu.be/4NNpkv3Us1I?t=498) Medical research has found no link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. (https://www.healthline.com/health/abortion-and-breast-cancer)

Heartbeat International’s “Commitment to Care and Competence” — which the Adirondack Pregnancy Center has already adopted (https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/opinion/guest-commentary/2020/03/the-adirondack-pregnancy-center-an-introduction/) — states affiliates must not “offer, recommend or refer for abortions, abortifacients or contraceptives.” (https://www.heartbeatinternational.org/about-us/why-affiliate/ready-to-affiliate)

Does this really sound like something you’d expect to hear from a hospital? Of course not. It’s what you’d expect from an anti-choice organization whose top priority is pushing an objectively harmful agenda.

To pose just one example of why this will be harmful — women seeking hormonal contraceptives to treat endometriosis will not be able to receive treatment from the Adirondack Pregnancy Center, even if that treatment is the best option.

Furthermore, I’m concerned that the center’s “trained client advocates” will be ill-equipped to diagnose and treat an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition you would reasonably assume a “pregnancy center” would be able help you with.

It also seems clear that the Adirondack Pregnancy Center has purchased the website domain names adirondackpregnancycenter.com and adkpregnancycenter.com. Both domains were registered by Extend Web Services, a company that provides a variety of web services to crisis pregnancy centers and the “pregnancy help community.” (https://www.extendwebservices.com)

One of the first things I noticed after conducting a WHOIS search was the “clientRenewProhibited” status of both domains. According to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), this is an “uncommon status” that’s “usually enacted during legal disputes or when your domain is subject to deletion.” (https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/epp-status-codes-2014-06-16-en)

Is the Adirondack Pregnancy Center involved in an ongoing legal dispute? It wouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that Option Line, which was developed by Extend Web Services, came under fire for potentially exploiting women’s private, and often medical, information. (https://rewire.news/article/2019/08/08/how-anti-abortion-organizations-are-exploiting-personal-data/)

Option Line’s current Privacy Policy states, “Option Line is the sole owner of any and all information collected on www.optionline.org and www.pregnancycenters.org” and that Option Line may “share such information with Option Line affiliates, partners, vendors, or contract organizations, or as legally necessary.” (https://optionline.org/privacy-policy/)

It seems odd to me that any website would claim ownership of an individual’s personal information, especially if it’s medically related. And who are Option Line’s affiliates, partners, vendors and contract organizers? Who has access to this information?

And will local visitors of the Adirondack Pregnancy Center have to risk compromising their personal privacy when deciding on one of the more intimate choices of their lives when they walk through the front door?

I’ll conclude by referencing the 12 banners displayed on Main Street in Saranac Lake. They read, “Racism is a public health crisis.”

The village must recognize that the Adirondack Pregnancy Center will only perpetuate racism within our public health systems.

Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected by unintended pregnancy in the United States. (https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-health/2019/09/26/world-contraception-day-unintended-pregnancy-in-america/)

The Black maternal mortality rate is more than 2.5 times the same rate among white women. (https://www.yahoo.com/gma/maternal-death-rate-among-black-women-2-5-191225542–abc-news-wellness.html)

Black women are two to six more times likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595019/)

A pregnancy center that gives women misinformation and doesn’t present them with all of their options will only cause these racial disparities in healthcare to continue.

Ultimately, it’s incumbent upon residents of the Adirondack Park to speak up and demand that this center never opens.

The Adirondack Pregnancy Center would be the first of its kind within the Blue Line. Don’t let it be a trend setter.

David Lynch lives in Saranac Lake.

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