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A Challenge to Planned Parenthood Grows in Idaho

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Named for early suffragette, Stanton Healthcare wants to provide pro-life care for women

For years, there’s been a lot of talk among pro-life Americans that Planned Parenthood is one of the biggest obstacles to restoring a culture of life.

Brandi Swindell is doing more than just talking about it.

The founder of Stanton Healthcare in Boise, Idaho, a network of pro-life pregnancy help centers, has an ambitious vision. She wants to not just compete with the largest abortion provider in the nation. She wants Stanton to replace it.

“Swindell, 39, believes she has the political connections, activist background, and business plan to make replacing the Planned Parenthood network a reality, even without providing any basic contraception methods at all,” said a recent feature on her efforts in, of all places, Cosmopolitan magazine.

While Stanton clinics intend to offer a full range of women’s reproductive health services that address pregnancy, sexual health screenings and STI testing, and gynecological issues like ovarian cyst diagnostics or annual pelvic exams, not one Stanton affiliate will be offering contraception — either hormonal or IUDs, or even simple barrier methods like condoms.

What it does offer, however, is a “lifeline for getting health services that they may otherwise be unable to access” in Idaho, the magazine say.

The motivation is personal. While Swindell was working at a national park during the late 1990s, a friend she met at the camp became pregnant and went to a clinic for an abortion. “Swindell said when she saw her after the procedure, it was like seeing a completely different person.”

“I could feel it in the air and I could see it in her limp body, she was lying in the fetal position and she had had the abortion,” Swindell said. “That experience changed her. She wasn’t the same vibrant girl that she was before.”

The encounter led her to get involved in pro-life efforts here and abroad, including Rock for Life, Christian Defense Coalition, Youth Defense in Ireland, and Generation Life.

But the idea for Stanton Healthcare led her back to her native Idaho in 2006. She named the center after suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whose love for nascent life impressed Swindell and may run counter to the view some people have of radical feminists.

Plans are afoot to provide direct medical care — STI testing, diagnostic ultrasounds both for pregnancy and issues like cysts, and mammography. Stanton is already taking the David position against the Goliath of Planned Parenthood. The center in Boise and a new one planned for Meridian, a suburb of Boise, are located directly next door to Planned Parenthood clinics. Affiliates are planned for Detroit, North Carolina, and Alabama, and even in Belfast, Ireland.

Based on their plans for growth, Swindell expects to have 30 Stanton affiliates operating within 18 months of the Meridian flagship’s opening, and add 15 to 20 new clinics per year afterward.

But with more than 700 Planned Parenthood health-care centers in the United States alone, the article estimates, even if Stanton grew at a rate of 20 facilities a year, it would take 35 years to establish a network large enough to replace Planned Parenthood.

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