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Options for Women the subject of criticism over not offering all options for students

December 7, 2016

Options for Women, a pregnancy resource clinic that has been going through changes, is being doubted by some regarding its job of providing unbiased help to students.

Options for Women is a nonprofit organization that helps clients with sexual health and pregnancy-related issues.

“We want to help clients explore all of their options in terms of their sexual life and pregnancy,” said Marie Regnier, an employee of Options for Women.

The services provided by the clinic include pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing, treatment and education, ultrasounds, counseling, classes and support groups for women and men, as well as access to medical professionals.

“We are not professional counselors, so we call it venturing,” said Regnier. “We also refer clients to professional help if they need it, so we have connections we can connect students with.”

Changing the name of the clinic was a big transition for Options for Women. The organization used to be called the Pregnancy Helpline. Another change is the location. Options for Women is now located in a new building with more space: two counseling rooms, an ultrasound room and a lab.

“We have a building that is much more suited to help our clients and provide services,” Regnier said.

Despite the changes Options for Women has made, the voices of critics do not seem to diminish.

“We’ve worked with them, but I think we struggle a little bit because they are not really up front with who they are,” said Alice Reilly-Myklebust, the director of UW-River Falls Student Health and Counseling Services.

According to Reilly-Myklebust, Options for Women is a pro-life and religiously-based organization, and that affects what kind of options it provides to the students.

“I’ve heard from students who have gone to see them, thinking that they are going to get unbiased information on all of their options, and that is not what they get and they are very upset about that,” said Reilly-Myklebust.

According to the website of Options for Women, “[we] offer a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment for women and couples facing an unexpected pregnancy.”

Sue Galoff, a director at Pierce County Reproductive Health Services, said, “When students are seeking help for an unplanned pregnancy, Options for Women provides pro-life services for them to choose in the community.”

Options for Women, in the words of Reilly-Myklebust, is not a place to which she would refer a student who has an unplanned pregnancy and is not yet sure what to do about it.

In response to this, Regnier said, “I apologize for any students who felt upset. Our goal is not to make students to feel upset, but is to provide options and exploration of their life.

“We do not provide abortion but we do educate women on all of their options,” she added. “We would sit down with them, we would hear their story and not judge them. We would try to help them with all the information so they can form a decision.”

Whether Options for Women is the right place for students with unplanned pregnancy is still controversial.