By David Lynch and Carolyn Koestner

Back in March, the Saranac Lake Development Board approved a new “Hospital” to open its doors in town: the innocent-sounding Adirondack Pregnancy Center (APC). However, a closer look at the APC reveals a very nefarious motive, one that poses a great danger to Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks at large. 

The APC is affiliated with and backed by Heartbeat International, an organization that runs one of the largest networks of crisis pregnancy centers in the world. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are evangelical anti-choice groups that run fake health centers with the goal of preventing someone from having an abortion by any means necessary, including spreading false medical information through communties. 

These clinics are opening on a massive scale, outnumbering true reproductive health facilities and the opening of the APC would make it the first CPC in the park. 

While the APC continues to try and deny it, Heartbeat International has been the driving force behind every move the Adirondack Pregnancy Center has made. 

  • They adopted Heartbeat’s Commitment of Care, which includes adhering to the Bible and promoting God’s homophobic plan for romantic relationships. 
  • In an email correspondence with Grant Program Specialist Sara Littlefield, we learned that Heartbeat International’s Life Launch Resource Package had been purchased on behalf of the Adirondack Pregnancy Center in October 2019. 
  • That package includes guides and scripts filled with easily disproved lies like
    • “35 percent of suicidal behaviors…may be attributable to abortion.” 
    • “The risk of breast cancer almost doubles after one abortion…” 
    • “Condoms are ineffective in preventing pregnancy.” 

Around the same time, Extend Web Services purchased two domain names for the Adirondack Pregnancy Center. Extend Web Services provides web design and digital marketing services for CPCs across the country. 

The Center’s 24/7 Help Line will almost certainly be outsourced to Option Line, an Ohio-based call center and chat service developed by Extend Web Services. Option Line was caught exploiting the personal information of people who use its services.

And when local residents began voicing their opposition, the Adirondack Pregnancy Center had a puff piece published in a “news” publication owned and operated by Heartbeat International. 

The public outcry that sparked the puff piece hit a fever pitch when dozens of community members attended a Saranac Lake Development Board meeting in August. 

Numerous community members, including those of us writing this article, voiced concerns about the Board’s decision to approve the Adirondack Pregnancy Center, citing its failure to disclose its affiliation to Heartbeat International among several other issues. 

Organizing this action was no small feat. Back in March when the Center was approved, there was virtually no opposition to the Center, because the APC was intentionally flying under the radar, as they do not want their true intentions known to the community. 

Two local residents wrote articles to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise stating their concerns and brought the issue to light. 

Since then, a coalition of healthcare workers, activist organizations, and concerned citizens has formed. There are several reasons we oppose the Adirondack Pregnancy Center, but our primary motivation is ensuring that pregnant people receive the best healthcare possible and that harmful false medical information is not spread throughout our communities. 

Instead of receiving quality care at the APC, people facing unplanned pregnancies will be lied to and manipulated. 

Existing academic research validates these concerns. 

In a Joint Statement from the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, the groups unanimously declared that CPCs pose risk by failing to adhere to medical and ethical practice standards . 

A peer-reviewed article from the Journal of Contraception concluded that Crisis Pregnancy Centers “seeks to intimidate women” and are thus “unethical.” 

The Guttmacher Institute put out an article titled “The Public Health Risks of Crisis Pregnancy Centers” due to their spreading of misinformation and deceptive tactics. 

And although many true health care providers are unable to speak publicly about CPCs, many brave health care professionals have come out against CPCs

“Legitimate healthcare providers wouldn’t steer patients away from seeking healthcare,” said Jamie Beers, Administrator of the Hartford GYN Center.

“CPCs don’t understand that abortion, pregnancy, and birth are all normal parts of a woman’s reproductive life, and my patients want a doctor who trusts that they are the experts in their own lives,” said Dr. Yashica Robinson of the Alabama Women’s Center. 

“CPCs misrepresent themselves as places that encourage healthy pregnancies and support maternal and infant health. The truth is that CPCs are incredibly dangerous for women with wanted pregnancies,” said Kwajelyn Jackson of the Feminist Women’s Health Center. 

Despite what the APC will continue to claim, this center will manipulate, lie to, and harm pregnant people. 

The APC is rapidly ramping up its public presence. They’ve launched a website and planned their first public event on October 10. 

The time for action is now. We cannot allow a fake clinic to open its doors and harm pregnant people in our community. 

If you believe abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a human right; if you believe pregnant people deserve medical advice from medical experts; if you believe that hospitals should have medical licensure; if you support the health and well-being of your friends and neighbors — join the fight and say no to the Adirondack Pregnancy Center.

Carolyn Koestner and David Lynch are local residents advocating for reproductive rights and high-quality healthcare for all.

Photo: The building the Adirondack Pregnancy Center plans to occupy, on 20 Academy Street in Saranac Lake/provided photo.

Please note that comments and commentary included on the Adirondack Almanack are those of the individuals and not the Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Explorer.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]

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