Letter to the Editor: ArborVitae seeks to offer safe environment for women

BY SUZANNE ABDALLA

Published January 10, 2010

To the Daily:

As the Director of ArborVitae Women's Center, I'd like to add to Bethany Biron's news article on ArborVitae and the U of M FemDems (Campus group pushes for more info at local pregnancy centers, 01/07/2010).

First, at ArborVitae, we're really open about our values. We're a private 501c3 charity. We don't discriminate against anyone for any reason. We are life-affirming, so we don’t refer for or perform abortions, nor do we prescribe or refer for birth control.

We offer free, confidential medical services, including pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, options consulting that includes info on birth control and abortion methods and material support and community referrals.

Our intake forms do ask whether our client identifies herself with a religion because religion often plays a key part in a woman's pregnancy decision-making. How can we offer sensitive, personalized consultation if we don't know whether she's Atheist, Wiccan, Mormon, Baha'i or Catholic?

The FemDems need to educate themselves about hormonal birth control. Medical studies, including a 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis, show that sustained use of hormonal contraception significantly raises the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. It's well known that synthetic hormones sometimes cause deadly side effects — just google "Yaz lawsuits."

What's wrong with promoting natural fertility awareness, a free, environmentally-friendly, safe, effective way to work with (not against) a woman's natural cycle?

Even if ArborVitae was pushing a religious agenda and lying, how would posting a sign reading, "We do not offer abortion or birth control" possibly fix that problem?

ArborVitae might not be where FemDems come for pregnancy tests. But other women at the University like us and repeatedly come to us for services.

We're proud to proclaim that we are life-affirming. We don't need the city of Ann Arbor to mandate that we are.

Suzanne Abdalla
The letter-writer is the Executive Director of ArborVitae, Inc.