The Women’s Care Center and the Women’s Health Center in downtown Duluth seek to assist women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Each clinic offers similar services to women, with one big difference separating the two. The Women’s Health Center provides abortion as an option, while the Women’s Care Center does not.
“Through our options counseling, we address abortion, but we do not provide abortion services,” said Angie Wambach, board president at the Women's Care Center.
Women who seek to abort an unplanned pregnancy can do so at the Women’s Health Center located just across the street.
“We are a first trimester abortion clinic,” said Laurie Casey, director at the Women’s Health Center. “We’re the only clinic north of the Twin Cities metro area that performs abortions.”
The Women’s Health Center performs two different types of abortions for women who are in their first trimester of pregnancy. The center provides both medical and surgical abortions.
To qualify for medicinal abortion, woman must be less than 63 days into their pregnancy. An ultrasound is performed to determine if the woman is within the gestational limits. From there, she is given a pill to begin the abortion process.
The second type of abortion the clinic performs is surgical. The procedure itself takes about 10 minutes, but most women who choose this abortion method are at the clinic for five to six hours. Lab work, an ultrasound and a nursing assessment are required before the procedure. Women are also required to go through patient education where staff members talk with the patient about their decision as well as walk them through the procedure and the aftercare.
The Women’s Health Center provides other options for women who experience unplanned pregnancy.
“We do STI testing at our clinic, pregnancy testing, options counseling if a woman is pregnant, and then we do public speaking in the community," Casey said. “We also participate in the sage screening program, so women that are 40 years or older can receive a free pap smear and a breast exam, and then we can refer out to one of the local breast centers for a free mammogram if they qualify.”
The clinic also provides long-term, reversible contraceptives such as an IUD or Explanon, birth control pills, Depo-Provera, NuvaRings, OrthoEvra and condoms as well as emergency contraception to Minnesota residents for free.
The Women’s Care Center works to provide family planning services. The nurses and assisting staff work with women to see that they get adequate prenatal care and newborn care and that they connect with physicians, social workers and counselors to meet each woman’s individuals needs.
“We’re offering all the options to women for them to make a truly informed choice for themselves,” Wambach said. “We’re not here to push a certain choice or option on anyone but to give them the love, support and time that they need to make the best choice for themselves and give them all the information and sources they need to make an informed choice.”
The Women’s Care Center also provides goal planning where women can take classes or do activities within the community. The clinic keeps record of their goal planning tasks, and women can receive car seats, cribs, blankets and other necessities to help them through their pregnancy and after the child is born.
Both clinics provide options counseling as well as discussions with women about adoption, single parenthood, marriage and abortion.
“We want them to make the choice for themselves,” Wambach said.
“We’re supportive of a woman with whatever she wants to do,” Casey said. “We’re not here to tell her or make her decisions for her. She has to decide what's best for herself and her family.”
Both clinics aim to be non-biased and non-judgmental. However, this does not mean that it is not an emotional experience for both the workers and staff members of each clinic.
“Most women that have an abortion are relieved after they have the procedure, but some are sad, and some feel guilty,” Casey said.
Both the Women’s Care Center and Women’s Health Center provide counseling after an abortion for those that may need help coping with their decision.
“It’s always been a place in my heart,” Wambach said. “I know people who have gone through that crisis, and so many of them say, ‘I wish I had somebody else who I could have turned to. I wish I would have known that.'”