New York Daily News: Abortion Clinics, Crisis Pregnancy Centers Face Off Over Women in Bronx as New Legislation Looms
By Corinne Lestch
March 1, 2011
Original available here
Young women heading to a South Bronx abortion center run an obstacle course of pro-lifers trying to steer them around the corner to a prenatal clinic in a converted school bus.
"We can do a free ultrasound and help you with prenatal care, all you have to do is say yes to life," Gregory Webb, of EMC Frontline Pregnancy Center, urged one patient.
She passed him and instead entered Dr. Emily Women's Health Center, an abortion clinic, on Southern Blvd. one recent day - but scores of others wind up at the mobile ob-gyn clinic, distraught and confused.
These so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" zero in on young pregnant women, and counselors there try to convince them to keep their babies, pro-choicers say. Citywide, about 40% of pregnancies are terminated, but with an abortion rate of 48%, the Bronx is the frontline in the battle for reproductive rights.
The city Health Department stats have energized activists on both sides of the issue.
And the debate is heating up in the City Council, which is slated to vote tomorrow on Speaker Christine Quinn's legislation requiring crisis pregnancy centers to post signs on their doors making clear what services they offer.
"If you're going to be giving sonograms, it should be under the supervision of a doctor," charged Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan).
There are more than a dozen of the CPCs around the five boroughs. And in one case, in Brooklyn there is one set up in the same building as Planned Parenthood.
"There are more crisis pregnancy centers than there are abortion clinics," said Lisa Maldonado, executive director of Reproductive Health Access Project in Manhattan. "And they usually lure women in with advertising for free medical care, provide biased counseling and apply pressure tactics."
The legislation by Quinn (D-Manhattan) would make the CPCs post signs declaring there's no medical staff present, and disclose in their ads and websites they don't offer abortion or birth control.
Chris Slattery, founder of EMC, says the bill is a violation of his group's First Amendment rights. and says it's all part of a push to make abortion the norm.
"The city has abysmally treated women as garbage and says, basically, if you have a job or are in school, get rid of [the baby]," said Slattery. His group's counseling has had some success.
Women who've gone to the bus or to the CPCs say they are shown plastic fetuses in various stages of development and told of the health dangers of aborting.
After her boyfriend left her, a pregnant Yudelka Acosta, a 19-year-old cashier, was enticed by the pro-life bus clinic near Dr. Emily's. That was months ago; now she is about to give birth.
Earlier last month, Amanda Santos, 27, planned to terminate her pregnancy, the result of an abusive relationship, but wound up at the bus.
EMC volunteer Jowell Toledo discouraged Santos from getting her fifth abortion.
Santos said, "It's gonna be hard, but at least I'm trying."