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Taking it to the next level

Legate KATHLEEN EATON BRAVO rebrands Birth Choice as Obria Medical Clinics . . . .

Legate Kathleen Eaton Bravo has long been a trailblazer in the pro-life pregnancy center movement, but now she is taking her vision for ending abortion to a new level.

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Kathleen Eaton defends the unborn at the 2012 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

What’s in a name?

On Feb. 1, the Birth Choice Health Clinics Eaton Bravo had led for 28 years were rebranded as Obria (pronounced OH-bree-uh) Medical Clinics. The change, part of a strategy to offer life-centered sexual and reproductive health care to young women and men in a secular, sexualized culture, was sparked by a decline in Birth Choice’s patient numbers.

Birth Choice responded in part by closing and relocating several clinics, but in the process it became clear that the name wasn’t working.

“When we did focus groups, they didn’t like ‘Birth Choice,’” Eaton Bravo said. “They didn’t know if it was pro-life or pro-choice.” Some thought the name reflected an agenda and others thought Birth Choice was a birthing center. By contrast, the name Obria Medical Clinics resonated positively with both men and women.

To supporters who didn’t like the new name because it didn’t mean anything to them, Eaton Bravo explained that in the world of marketing, meaning is less important than effective branding. “I said, ‘What does Apple have to do with computers? But we all know what it is.’”

From their work in the hospitality industry, Orange County Legate Steph Busch, vice chair of the Obria board, and her husband Tim know the trend is to use more neutral names.

Justin Alvarez

Justin Alvarez

“People are looking in all aspects of their life for something unique that meets their needs and applies to them,” Steph Busch said. “I think Obria offers that possibility.”

Of the 10 names presented to Birth Choice by Breviti, a company that has successfully branded more than 900 organizations, Eaton Bravo liked Obria right away.

Her reasoning was simple: Obria starts with “OB,” suggesting an emphasis on women’s health, although the clinics will treat men as well. The root of the name is from the Spanish “obra,” which means “to work,” and the insertion of the letter “I” reflects personal responsibility. Eaton Bravo, a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter, said the new name incorporates the good work the organization does for the sanctity of life, both in and out of the womb.

Key to choosing Obria, she added, was that no one owned the name and all the web addresses attached to it. “In today’s world you don’t just think up a name,” she explained. “Every word that you could imagine that sounds good, somebody owns.”

Taking on the beast

With the rebranding of Birth Choice in California as Obria, Eaton Bravo hopes eventually to expand outside the state, developing Obria nationally as a competitive health-care model for serving young women and men who are not only facing a pregnancy but are in a lifestyle that could result in one.

To reach abortion-minded clients, Birth Choice clinics since

2006 have offered services that compete directly with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s No. 1 abortion provider. These include STD and HIV/AIDS testing, plus well-woman and prenatal care.

“We do everything Planned Parenthood does minus contraception and abortion,” Eaton Bravo said.

As part of the rebranding, she envisions Obria working with existing medical clinics, starting new ones, collaborating with faith-based primary-care community clinics and supporting local pregnancy resource centers in converting to a medical model. With the help of a $500,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Obria plans to develop a network of 25 clinics in California, where the abortion rate is 40% above the national average.

nextlevel-1Obria also will be launching an Internet-based telemedicine program that will offer access to counseling services, health education and other pro-life educational materials in more than 20 states through partnerships with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and Students for Life.

“If we don’t do something now,” Eaton Bravo said, “10 years from now the pregnancy center movement has a chance of becoming obsolete. We might still be serving and providing baby clothes, but not with a cutting-edge, faith-based model that reaches the patient instead of the donor.”

Ventura-LA North Legate Justin Alvarez, an attorney and Obria board member, said he believes one of the biggest challenges in the pro-life pregnancy center movement is a lack of consistency and differences in quality and approach, something the Obria brand can address.

“If you’re going to create a brand that can compete with Planned Parenthood and other organizations, you must have good quality control over everybody operating within that brand.” For instance, he said, a brand like McDonald’s is successful because of consistency. “It has a good product, it meets needs, and you know what you’re going to get.”

Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and a member of Legatus’ Northern New Jersey Chapter, said she believes the more pregnancy resource centers can move in the direction of medical clinics like Obria, the more they can compete with abortion providers.

“It doesn’t mean other pregnancy centers don’t save babies,” she explained. “Just about everyone does free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests now, but they’re not medical clinics.”

If someone goes to an Obria clinic for something other than pregnancy and has a good experience, Morana said, she is more likely to return if she does get pregnant. “It’s really brilliant. If more centers go in this direction, we would be putting the abortion industry out of business more and more.”

Another benefit to pro-life medical clinics, Busch added, is their ability to reach and help women who are caught up in human trafficking or prostitution. For example, she said, if these women go to a clinic for STD testing, they have the opportunity to talk to a counselor and, in some cases, change their lives. “We really try to rescue some of these women who need some real guidance whether they’re pregnant or not.”

It’s also important, Eaton Bravo said, that pro-life facilities adopt a medical model to compete in and adapt to an environment being influenced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the new law, community-based health clinics are being expanded with the help of government funding under the Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHC) model.

However, to receive federal money, clinics must agree to dispense contraception and do abortion referrals. Obria hopes to partner with faith-based clinics that cannot accept these restrictions and help them get funding to continue operating.

Eaton Bravo likens the Obria model to the Gospel image of pouring new wine into new wineskins.

“We have to let go of 40 years and move into this new world of health care under the ACA,” she said. “We need to be wiser, define exactly what we are, and how we do it.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Learn more:

theobriafoundation.org