February 24, 2017

New Women’s Care Center offers women ‘option to choose life’

A new Women’s Care Center opened in Bloomington immediately next to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility on Feb. 1, seen in the background of this Feb. 15 photo. (Submitted photo by Lee Ann Zatkulak)

A new Women’s Care Center opened in Bloomington immediately next to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility on Feb. 1, seen in the background of this Feb. 15 photo. (Submitted photo by Lee Ann Zatkulak)

By Natalie Hoefer

Next to the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Bloomington is a small, quaint building with red brick and white trim.

Monica Siefker and others who pray and offer sidewalk counseling in front of the abortion center “have eyed that building for a long time, and dreamt of it someday being a care center for pregnant women,” she says, noting that the closest pregnancy care center was a few miles away.

On Feb. 1, that dream came to fruition when Women’s Care Center opened for business in the building, providing free counseling, support and education to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Choosing to locate immediately next to a Planned Parenthood facility is an intentional strategy, says Jenny Hunsberger, vice president of Women’s Care Center, which is headquartered in South Bend, Ind.

“It’s really important to be visible and accessible to the women who need us the most,” she explains. “That’s why we’re there. We want to be as easy for them [to access] as we possibly can be.”

The “women who need [them] the most” are the women who are seeking services just feet away at the Planned Parenthood facility, where both chemical and medical abortions are performed.

Not only does the Women’s Care Center offer free medical-grade pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, but also counseling and classes on the basics of caring for a baby, parenting, discipline, nutrition, budgeting, relationships, goal-setting and more—all for free.

Women who participate in a one-on-one parenting class earn coupons to “purchase” items for their babies—car seats, clothes, cribs, diapers and more.

“[Our services are] comprehensive, skilled, empathetic and non-judgmental,” says Hunsberger. “We offer counseling and support so [the mother] has an individual pregnancy plan.”

She says the goal is for an expecting mother to feel “that barrier she’s facing, the challenges, are really met, that she is not alone, that she has someone who is both there to help and support her, and someone who is there to help her recognize her own value and dignity and goodness, and support her in making decisions about her pregnancy that are rooted in her own core belief in her goodness and value.”

Siefker, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington, attributes the presence of the newly opened Women’s Care Center to the “great many years of souls praying outside of the Bloomington Planned Parenthood [facility] in inclement weather, begging our Lord to send us help.”

That help came recently when the building next to the abortion center went on the market.

“Last February, a very generous donor purchased the building for us,” says Hunsberger. “We started renovations in the spring. Now we’re open and seeing clients.”

Within the first hour of opening, she says, the center had two clients, and four by the end of the first day.

“We already have 12 babies expected to moms [who are clients] in Bloomington,” she says with enthusiasm. “That’s within just two weeks.”

According to the Indiana Induced Termination of Pregnancy Reports found on www.in.gov/isdh, the number of abortions in Monroe County, where Bloomington is located, dropped from 811 to 718 between 2012 and 2014, then spiked to 822 in 2015, the last year for which the report is available.

“What that means to us is that the number of women facing difficult pregnancies is high and increasing,” says Hunsberger. “We want to be there for them. We’re thinking that within three years we will start to see some incredible shifts in Bloomington.”

Based on statistics from Women’s Care Centers in communities similar to Bloomington, she says they expect to serve around 900-1,000 women a year.

“We’re going to see more and more women—significant, measurable numbers of women who feel for the first time they have the option to choose life,” she says.

Hunsberger says that the members of Women’s Care Center are “really grateful to the community and people of Bloomington, to the people who recognized the need and want a stronger presence of hope and care in Bloomington, who will be there to make this a local outreach.

“It’s lifesaving work.” †

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