On February 24, 2023, The Voice published a news article highlighting pushback from the Wooster community against the inclusion of the Pregnancy Care Center of Wayne County (PCC), a Crisis Care Pregnancy Center (CCPC), on Wellness resources. This article highlighted the ongoing advocacy from students which prompted more alumni and current faculty to speak out against Wellness’ decision to continue to include our local PCC on-campus resources. One important point that preceded this article not present in the final piece was a critical meeting on November 7, 2022, between myself, other student organizers, faculty and Wellness staff. In this meeting, Wellness staff acknowledged the harm done by endorsing such a dangerous anti-choice institution alongside resources that provide a breadth of options for all forms of reproductive care. Across the country, these Evangelical CCPCs are widely reported as forcibly holding “patients” in their centers, distributing appalling medical disinformation to pregnant people seeking abortions and playing fake ultrasounds to “patients,” while their staff regularly protest against reproductive freedom. The Wellness staff agreed to look into alternative local resources like the Startzman Clinic and Akron Planned Parenthood. Yet, on December 2, 2022, the students, faculty and staff working on this issue received an email from Anne Ober with “updated” posters along with the message that Wellness had “determined [that] we will keep the [PCC] as resource as well with the specific information about services provided (and just as importantly) those not provided at this resource.”
This left other organizers and I at a loss for words. There is huge potential for harm in publicly endorsing an anti-choice, anti-birth control organization that provides no unique forms of care or community resources, leaving the justification for their continued inclusion ambiguous. Our local PCC does not provide ultrasounds (a justification provided by our Wellness Center) past the first trimester and requires pregnant people to attend Evangelical Christian “parenting” courses to earn “baby bucks” to access materials for their children, leaving no “free” resources available. Choosing to include the PCC on our campus resources is an incredibly poor decision that places students in an overtly Evangelical Christian, anti-choice and coercive space. Any “resources” our local CCPC claims to have are already covered by the Viola Startzman clinic, Wooster Community Hospital, OneEighty and our own Wellness center. We as students should have autonomy over our own care and not be guided to spaces that are so dangerous that their legality is in question due to “false advertising” and coercion in several states. States like Massachusetts and New Jersey have even issued public health warnings against the practices of CCPCs. CCPCs are also not bound by federal privacy law or HIPPA, meaning that they can turn over “patient” information at will. This is what our licensed staff are publicly endorsing as a reputable, legitimate resource to our students, many of whom will venture down to our local CCPC unattended, confused and seeking help.
We are an interfaith, diverse, unique campus that demands interfaith, diverse and safe resources. The inclusion of this resource is a huge disservice to our campus community. Since The Voice’s initial article, several alumni, board members and students have repeatedly reached out to Wellness on this issue, with no response. Our student body, community members, faculty, staff and alumni deserve to be heard. Not only is the Wellness Centers’ silence seen at this moment, but so is the silence of our interim President who was copied on all of these emails. Our community deserves better than the danger this PCC poses.
If any other students would like to see the emails authored by myself to the President and Wellness Center, I would be happy to share via email@example.com.