Pregnancy centers near campus draw debate on abortion access

Published 7:59 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — A handful of student protesters lined the sidewalk in front of First Care Pregnancy Center in Prospect Park in late April. One of their signs proclaimed that the clinic behind them was a “fake center.”

The University of Minnesota students turned out to caution others against visiting pregnancy centers they view as illegitimate. Not all services offered at women’s health care clinics are the same, especially near the University’s Twin Cities campus, where 1.5 percent of students have reported “being involved in a pregnancy,” according to a 2018 survey by Boynton Health.

About one-third of those pregnancies resulted in an abortion. While a handful of abortion providers remain in the state, abortion rights advocates are raising the alarm on pregnancy centers they say are spreading misinformation about abortion.

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The University’s on-campus medical clinic, Boynton Health, like other university-based clinics in the Midwest, does not perform abortions. Only five abortion clinics exist in Minnesota, with Planned Parenthood in St. Paul being the closest provider to campus.

For a student seeking an abortion, Women’s Health at Boynton would refer them to an abortion provider in the area, said Ann Laros, assistant director of primary care at Boynton’s Women’s Health division.

As for pregnancy centers, Laros said she has limited knowledge of those in the campus area.

“In general, I would hope that my team, if you’re going to refer somebody, would refer somebody with a full understanding of the services that they provide,” said Laros.

According to the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws Pro-Choice Minnesota (NARAL), an abortion rights advocacy group, there are over 90 “fake” women’s health centers in the state, outnumbering abortion providers about 19 to 1. NARAL argues that certain types of clinics should fall under that category because they do not provide clients with “all their options” when they are pregnant.

First Care Pregnancy Center and Abria Pregnancy Resources, two clinics located near the university, do not perform abortions, though they advertise resources for those who are pregnant, the Minnesota Daily reported.