Throughout this semester, I noticed on occasion that there were "free pregnancy test" vans on the UConn campus. At first, I thought to myself "That's really neat" but I became a little confused when I noticed that the organization running these vans were advising students against Planned Parenthood and to use their services instead. As someone who utilized Planned Parenthood in the past for birth control, and has been with friends to be pregnancy and STD tested, I didn't understand why this organization with seemingly the same ideals would be speaking badly about it.

I have learned that the organization running these vans is the Women's Center of Eastern Connecticut (which I will refer to here on out as WCEC). This organization advertises a multitude of services on their website, many of which are for planning out the pregnancy and providing resources to help prepare mothers and fathers for the birth of a child. I think it's great that there is an organization that does that. I do have an issue with the fact that they advertise, in terms of pregnancy, that they "will discuss all your options and concerns." This is concerning as, from the information I have gathered, the WCEC has a very biased way that they go about providing information and does not, in fact, discuss all options in an uncolored way.

While organizations such as Planned Parenthood provide customers with all of their options in an unbiased way, simply aiming to help the person, centers like the WCEC tend to take on a more pro-life approach. The van itself was sponsored by Students For Life. Now, I am not saying anything against people being pro-life, or wanting to discuss that with others. My issue is that if you are advertising your organization as a women's center to help pregnant women, you should remain unbiased in approach. The center has been reported to accentuate the possible emotional trauma of abortion and to use stories of women who have had bad experiences with abortion in an attempt to deter people from considering abortion as an option. In general, the organization admits on their website that they "do not perform or refer for abortion" and the only information they provide on abortions is a more graphic and negative depiction of the actual procedure. If you are looking to meet with professionals who can help you with that option if you are considering it or just want to be able to have all your options 100% available to you, it would be most beneficial to meet with someone more suited to your needs than this organization.

The fact that the WCEC was trying at UConn to dissuade students from using PP also does not look great for the organization as if you support women's choices, you should want them to receive help from wherever they can. By bashing PP they appear to be attempting to keep women from organizations where they can receive neutral support in favor of their organization that preaches pro-life approaches and thus pushing women towards making a pro-life decision.

Moreover, in general, this organization does not provide blood/genetic tests to determine medical complications associated with pregnancy, a thorough review of pre-existing and familial health conditions, pelvic exams, urine screens, or heartbeat monitoring. These are services that many other clinics provide and I would encourage people to utilize those if they are looking for the best care. While the clinic doesn't need to offer every service, I don't understand why the WCEC would try to dissuade students from organizations that do offer these things, if again they are simply trying to get people the best help possible, whatever that may be.

In Connecticut, there is currently a bill that, according to the Connecticut General Assembly, aims "to prohibit deceptive advertising practices by limited services pregnancy centers." An informed choice is important. I don't think an organization should advertise themselves as being a general center if they can't be impartial, and I particularly don't think it should bash other support organizations if what they really want is the mother to have access to all their options and resources.