May 18, 2013; Charleston Gazette

In Charleston, West Virginia, Women’s Health Center, an abortion provider, has a new neighbor in the Woman’s Choice Pregnancy Resource Center. Woman’s Choice moved to Washington Street just last month. It provides free counseling and other resources aimed at persuading women not to have abortions.

Linda Chatting, the director of Woman’s Choice, is coy about how the two organizations ended up nearly co-located, “Well, it may be a coincidence or it may not. It might work out nicely because we are dealing with the same women…if we get to talk to some of those women, that would be great.” She says that the site has been in consideration for the past four years, in that it was bigger and less costly than their previous space, and she says she can’t remember if there was ever any internal discussion of possible advantages or consequences of being next to Women’s Health Center.

But the executive director of Women’s Health Center thinks Woman’s Choice moved in next door to confuse people. “Yes, I would say that they did,” comments Sharon Lewis. “Many crisis-pregnancy centers do move next to reproductive-health centers to confuse patients,” Lewis said. “We will do everything we can to make sure that patients know where we are and that they don’t mistakenly go to their door.”

Before being bought by Woman’s Choice, the building was a gay bar and nightclub.

Margaret Chapman, director of the pro-choice group WV Free, says, “The tactics of crisis-pregnancy centers, not just the one located next to Women’s Health Center but all of them across the state and the country, are intentionally meant to confuse women…Women deserve honest access to reproductive-health care.”

Woman’s Choice was formerly named Lifeline of Charleston but changed its name to Woman’s Choice in 2002. Lewis said, “They’ve changed it to Woman’s Choice, and my only conclusion is that that’s part of a deceptive practice to get women in there because they’re confused, thinking that they’re going to a reproductive-health center.”—Ruth McCambridge