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Students petition to close Crisis Pregnancy Center

< weeks ago, Carleton’s pro-choice activism group, Student Advocates for Reproductive Choice (SARC), created a petition asking the college to not renew the lease for the Northfield Women’s Center.

The center is located in the Medical Arts Building, which is college property. SARC alleges that the Northfield Women’s Center, a crisis pregnancy center gives out medically inaccurate and misleading information to patients seeking abortion services.

Liz Blanchard, the Director of the Center was contacted, but was unable to comment for this article.

Currently, the SARC petition has 976 signatures, with a goal of 2,000, according to SARC co-president, Natalie Jacobson ’18. Once the petition has garnered 2,000 signatures, SARC hopes to present the petition to Carleton Vice President and Treasurer Fred Rogers.   

“Once we have at least 2,000 signatures, we’ll be at a good place to sit down with Fred Rogers and say: ‘We wanted to come to you after we got all of these signatures to show you that we’re not just a small group of students who are concerned, but that we have the backing of this entire community,’” said Jacobson.

Erin Healy ’17, SARC co-president, said that students have been advocating against the Northfield Women’s Center since 2012, when SARC confirmed that Carleton owned the property.

“Crisis pregnancy centers try to mislead patients so that they will come into their clinic and give them medically inaccurate information to dissuade them from getting abortion services,” said Healy. “They are not being honest about the full option available to patients, saying you’ll get breast cancer or that you’ll be suicidal after an abortion, which is just not right. It’s inappropriate that Carleton is affiliated with an association that does that.”

Jacobson decided to start the petition after visiting Northfield Women’s Center. “I went undercover, which I found out that a lot of other students had done in the past. I got pregnant pee from NARAL Minnesota, a pro-choice organization, who provides pregnant pee specifically to students for the purpose of investigating crisis pregnancy centers. After going in and getting information, I found that the Northfield Women’s Center was giving out deceitful information and manipulating women into not getting an abortion,” said Jacobson.

The primary goal of the SARC petition is to have the college administration not renew the lease for the Northfield Women’s Center, according to Jacobson.

“If they don’t do that,” she said, “I guess a secondary goal would be to spread awareness to the community, not just on campus, but also in the Northfield community.”

The petition has not been officially presented to Vice President Rogers, and he said that “it’s hard to have an official reaction to something I haven’t officially received yet.”

He went on to say, “We have not looked at it as an issue of whether we endorse or don’t endorse whoever is in the building. There is also a radio station in the building, and we don’t endorse what the radio station says. They’re just there doing what they do. That has been our view until now.”
Carleton purchased the Medical Arts Building in 2011, and the Northfield Women’s Center was already a tenant at that time, according to Rogers.
Rogers spoke with Blanchard, the Director of the Center, about the petition and said that “she was concerned. I think that her view is that people aren’t fully informed, and she would be happy to try to do that.”

“It’s fair to say that the Northfield Women’s Center view is that they would rather people didn’t have an abortion. That’s not a secret. I think Liz Blanchard would say they don’t dispense medically inaccurate information. I don’t know what was said at the appointments with students, but it could be that they dispensed an opinion that the students disagreed with,” Rogers said.

Rogers urged further conversation between the Northfield Women’s Center and SARC, asking: “To what extent have these concerned students engaged the Center, talked to the director, shared their concerns and come to understand what sort of services the center does provide? There are other students at Carleton who volunteer there, and there are many people in Northfield who are served by the Center.”

Rogers said that “if that all it comes down to is difference of opinion, I would not find that a reason for action.”

CSA Senate plans to draft a resolution in support of the petition, according to CSA President Tiffany Thet ’17. Thet said that CSA will vote on the resolution at Monday’s meeting. If the resolution passes, she will present it to the College Council and the President’s Office per CSA bylaws.

“The language is that the leasing of the Northfield Women’s Center goes against the mission and values of the college and its students,” she said.

“We’ve seen time and time again with this administration that they do not like to take moral or political statements,” Jacobson said. “I would argue that this is not a political issue, and it’s not a pro-life vs. pro-choice issue. “We are an academic, intellectual institution leasing space to an organization that deliberately gives people inaccurate information. To me, that’s antithetical to who we are as an institution.” 


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