Pregnant women thinking about their options can obtain free counseling at a new office in Riverhead opened by the Life Center of Long Island a few steps away from Planned Parenthood’s Riverhead office.
AAA Pregnancy Options, which is run by the Life Center, relocated from the rent-free second floor walk-up office it has occupied on Main Street for the past two years because the stairs made access difficult for many clients executive director Gloria Schreiber said. The new ground-floor location, in the same office complex and a few doors down from Planned Parenthood, is also much more visible.
It is one of four offices operated on Long Island operated by The Life Center of Long Island, a trade name of the Massapequa-based Mother and Unborn Baby Care of LI Inc., which is a tax-exempt nonprofit founded in 1986 “to promote, encourage, and foster public sentiment and respect for the dignity of human life, from conception to natural death.” According to the organization’s August newsletter, all four offices are located near Planned Parenthood offices, which draw many women for pregnancy testing and counseling, among other reproductive health services.
“In the first two weeks that we’ve been here, we’ve had 16 new clients walk in and we’ve had three baby saves,” Schreiber announced to applause Saturday at a ribbon-cutting event attended by Life Center of Long Island board members, supporters and town officials.
“We are all very excited to be here,” she said.
The center has counseling rooms, educational literature and DVDs about pregnancy, and a storage room where baby supplies and equipment are stockpiled for distribution to clients of the organization. Every three months, clients can obtain formula, baby food, clothing and other supplies for two years after childbirth, Schreiber said.
About 50 percent of the organization’s clients are between ages 15 and 24, she said. Another large group are women over age 40, who are considered “abortion vulnerable.”
The group will also pay for free “limited” sonograms for pregnant women. “We find that 60 to 65 percent of the women who have sonograms decide to choose life,” Schreiber said.
The Life Center also offers a “post-abortion healing program,” offering counseling to women who’ve had abortions and their partners “to help them cope with post-abortion syndrome,” Schreiber said.
“Men are often hands-off,” she said, “believing ‘It’s her body’ and leaving the decision up to the woman.” But it’s their child and their decision too, she said. The organization encourages and empowers men to participate in the decision.
Riverhead Town council members John Dunleavy, James Wooten and Jodi Giglio presided over the ribbon-cutting Saturday morning and presented the group with a proclamation from the Town of Riverhead.
“The Life Center shows women that pregnancy can be a positive change in their lives and helps them see it as the blessing that it really is,” Wooten said, “an alternative to what some see as the easy way out.”
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