They Type Of Competiton Planned Parenthood Will Definitely HATE, A Crisis Pregnancy Center
Pro-life center slated to be built next to Planned Parenthood
Mike Skaggs, executive director of the planned center, said that after months of prayer and planning, fundraising began in earnest in March and is continuing with visits to churches throughout Sioux City and beyond, asking for prayers and financial support.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, of which the Sioux City clinic is a part, declined a request for an interview about plans for Mary’s Choice. Instead, it released a statement from its Des Moines office, which said it provides health care services to thousands of women and men and that 97 percent of its services focus on prevention and education.
Of its anticipated new neighbor, it said, “Our hope and expectation is to have good neighbors who are law abiding and respectful.”
Support for mothers
Mary’s Choice will offer free pregnancy testing, some ultrasound tests, counseling, educational opportunities and support for mothers and their babies during pregnancy and after giving birth. That could be anything from providing diapers and baby clothes to referrals for adoption services.
Skaggs said it is not the intent of Mary’s Choice to duplicate services already available and that the center will refer women to other agencies and programs as appropriate. “Hopefully we’ll be able to complement and support the other ministries in town,” he said.
Bishop R. Walker Nickless, of the Diocese of Sioux City, said he knows Skaggs and supports his work. But he also wanted to be sure people know that Mary’s Choice is not a program of the diocese.
Skaggs emphasized that, too. “It’s open to anyone who wants to come or to donate,” he said.
Locating right beside the Planned Parenthood facility gives girls and women in a crisis pregnancy a “visual alternative,” according to Jean Plourde, the founder and board president of Gabriel’s Corner, a similar facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on which Mary’s Choice is modeled.
He said Gabriel’s Corner used that strategy more than four years ago when it opened across the street from Planned Parenthood there.
Skaggs acknowledged that the location beside Planned Parenthood would provide opportunities for “sidewalk counseling” but said he didn’t think it would cause any problems. He said sidewalk counseling has been going on quite awhile and that those who do it are familiar with relevant laws and follow them.
State and federal law prohibit harassment of people entering and leaving health-care facilities and bar protesters and sidewalk counselors from private property.
Skaggs said that during a visit to Gabriel’s Corner, he expressed anxiety about what Mary’s Choice might be like in four years.
“They said you can’t worry about four years down the road. Get it going and the rest will come,” Skaggs recounted.
“That’s our model now,” he said. “Some days, it’s been rough. But things are going well and we’re on track to have things ready to go in January 2011.”
At a glance
What: Mary's Choice is a crisis pregnancy counseling center being planned by a multidenominational group. It will offer services such as free pregnancy testing, ultrasound screening, educational materials and various emotional, educational and material supports and referrals for women wanting to give birth to their babies.
Where: In the 4400 block of Stone Avenue, next to the Planned Parenthood facility.
When: Plans call for a January opening.