Webster debates women’s health centers


Julie Setele helped get ThriVe St. Louis’ visit to Webster University’s cancelled Sept. 27, fearing the spread of inaccurate medical information. Exactly two months later, a student-run bake sale for Planned Parenthood set up in the University Center.

Thrive’s regional manager, Diane Vaughan, said Setele is falsely informed of the organization.

Vaughan said the faith-based organization uses the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information, pamphlets and fact sheets. She said Thrive’s education comes from experts in the medical health field.

“The main thing that we want to provide to women in our community is medically accurate and factual women’s health care,” Vaughan said.

Setele, a criminology professor, said she does not trust Thrive’s information. She said she does not see any benefit of Thrive on campus. Both organizations visited Webster during the 2017-18 school year.

Thrive’s appearance on Webster’s campus would show an implied approval from the university of Thrive’s organization in the eyes of Setele.

“If they were to come to campus, I think that would be harmful,” Setele said. I think any benefit that Thrive might provide for some is provided even more so by Planned Parenthood.”

In graduate school, Setele did a qualitative research project on a crisis pregnancy center in Northern California. She said its materials included lies on condoms’ effectiveness, sexist ideas about women and abstinence-only teachings.

Setele’s sister, 16, attends a Catholic school in Kentucky.

Photo by Christine Tannous

“My sister has been telling me very recently about her abstinence-only sex education,” Setele said. “It’s all basically the same lies as it was when I got that education 20 years ago.”

Although Thrive is a medical provider, Vaughan said they receive accusations of medical inaccuracies similar to the crisis pregnancy centers.

“Some might say that some of the misinformation that we give out to women is we tell them that condoms don’t work or we tell them that they’re going to get breast cancer if they have an abortion,” Vaughan said. “Both of those are lies. We would never say that because that is medically inaccurate information.”  

Both Thrive and Planned Parenthood’s health information can be found in Missouri’s Informed Consent Booklet and the CDC’s website. Vaughan said Thrive supplies the same information abortion clinics are mandated to provide under Missouri law.

Planned Parenthood provides abortion services and contraception. Thrive does not.

Like Planned Parenthood, Thrive provides free services such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD testing and post-abortion support.

Fayeshun Brown, the Student Government Association’s vice president, helped run the bake sale Nov. 27 to support Planned Parenthood. Brown said she believes denying a woman the ability to have an abortion denies the woman of her reproductive rights. However, Brown said anything dealing with students’ health should not be denied.

“I feel like any organization that deals with healthcare, whether it’s Planned Parenthood or anything similar, it should be allowed on campus,” Brown said. “As paying college students, we shouldn’t be denied of an opportunity that deals with our health.”

Lauren Handley began working with Amnesty International when she was 15. She is now in her third year as a member of Webster’s chapter and said Amnesty International believes in safe and legal abortions.

The non-governmental organization focuses on human rights. It started the ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign to advocate for reproductive rights.

Handley said she believes some companies like Thrive may not present all the information about abortion services to scare patients away from that choice.

“I think that’s a big deal because the organization like Thrive is a private organization,” Handley said. “So we have no means to hold them accountable for anything that they say or do.”  

Grant Mayberry, a member of Webster’s Christian organization Cru, said he thinks both organizations should be represented on campus. He said having them both on campus allows students to learn from both sides and form their own opinions.

“I don’t believe it’s fair for Planned Parenthood to be present while Thrive is denied access,” Mayberry said. “I think it needs to be either they’re both allowed or they’re both denied access.”

Vaughan said Thrive is a legitimate medical provider. Thrive staffs licensed nurses, physicians and registered diagnostic medical sonographers.

“If a woman comes in with an unplanned pregnancy, and she’s not sure what her plans are, we will review every option with her in a very non-manipulative, noncoercive, nonjudgmental way.” Vaughan said.

Handley said she would support a pro-life organization on campus not affiliated with any religion. However, she believes Planned Parenthood offers a well-rounded service of holistic healthcare.

“I really think it’s important that the university pays attention to which organizations it’s letting on our campus, which ones have really strong reputations and can be trusted and are reliable,” Handley said.  


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