In a move to provide ob-gyn care that's all-encompassing, a women's health center in Buffalo, N.Y., has become the first in the country to offer both birthing and abortion services in one holistically radical clinic.
The Birthing Center of Buffalo will offer women and their families "high touch, low-tech" care in a supportive, caring environment, with a philosophy centered on the concept of choice.
"We believe each woman is best suited to make decisions about her own body and that the best maternity care enables her to enter motherhood feeling competent and proud," the team of Dr. Katharine Morrison and Terri Fregoe, executive director of Buffalo Womenservices, explain on their website.
The center couldn't have come at a better time. Now more than ever, women in the U.S. are seeking out alternatives to hospitals for maternity care and labor, giving the midwifery movement a big push back into the spotlight. Birthing centers in the U.S. have increased by 27 percent in the last three years, with numbers rising from 195 to 248 in 37 states and Washington, D.C., according to the American Association of Birth Centers.
In addition to being Buffalo's first birthing center, it will be the second in the state of New York to offer such services.
"There is a huge demand right now for alternative birth options in Buffalo,” Sally Heron, Services Coordinator at the center, told Buffalo Rising. "And we are thrilled to be able to meet that need."
Naturally, the addition of the center to Buffalo Womenservices, which provides surgical abortions (performed during the first five through 22 weeks of pregnancy), has been met with some controversy. But having one place to meet all of a woman's reproductive needs while fostering a relationship doesn't just make sense; it's also comforting in the face of weighty and sometimes emotionally draining decisions, as Slate has pointed out.
With 61 percent of abortions being obtained by women who have one or more children, according to the Guttmacher Institute, Morrison told the Buffalo News that the separation between women who have abortions and those who give birth isn't clear-cut, making the coexistence of birth and abortion in one clinic not as strange as it might sound.
“Both of these experiences—abortion and birth—can exist in a woman’s reproductive life,” she said. “Many mothers have had abortions or will have one.”
The center's promotion of natural labor is also encouraging, as cesarean delivery rates in the U.S. have risen for 12 consecutive years, reaching an all-time high of 32.9 percent before leveling off recently, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Considered major surgery, C-sections are associated with known risks, including infection, injury to organs, and major blood loss.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Birthing Center recently celebrated its first birth, gushing about the "darling baby boy caught by his own father in the water," on Facebook.
If successful, its comprehensive reproductive rights model could be a precedent for women's health centers across the country.