By Celine Klosterman
Informed Choice of Iowa’s progress toward opening a pro-life medical clinic in Ames is an answer to prayers, said Rachel Owen, the organization’s executive director.
The satellite facility’s grand opening is slated for Oct. 1.
Like Informed Choices Medical Clinic of Iowa City, the Ames facility will offer free services including pregnancy and STD tests, ultrasounds, cervical cancer screenings, education on abstinence and abortion, and counseling for expectant mothers and fathers. “This will compete with the Planned Parenthood in Ames,” Owen said. That center says it offers the abortion pill and referrals for other abortion services.
As a satellite facility, the pro-life Ames clinic will have just one paid staffer — a nurse manager – in order to keep costs down, Owen said. Informed Choice of Iowa will handle all advertising, promotion and fundraising. As in Iowa City, volunteer nurses and receptionists will assist clients.
Annual expenses for the new center will total $160,000, Owen estimated. Informed Choice of Iowa needs $90,000 to open the building and has so far raised about $20,000.
Leaders and supporters of the organization started praying about eight months ago for God to provide a path to opening a clinic in Ames, which is home to Iowa State University, Owen said.
She cited an Iowa Department of Public Health report showing that the most common ages of women who had induced abortions in the state in 2010 were 20, 21 and 22 years old. Forty-seven percent of women who received abortions that year had at least some college education.
“We realized this was where we needed to be locating ourselves,” she said.
About four months ago, a group of pro-life advocates in Ames invited Informed Choice of Iowa to come to their city.
Kathy Bunting, co-director of Birthright in Ames, said the medical clinic will offer services Birthright can’t. Birthright says it provides free pregnancy tests; maternity and baby clothes; referrals to help clients meet legal, medical, financial and housing needs; and emotional support. But the Informed Choice clinic will offer the ultrasounds pregnant women need to see to realize they’re carrying a human life, Bunting said.
The clinic also will offer STD testing and education, she noted. “So many times I have university and high school students come in who aren’t aware of all the risks of their sexual activity.”
Informed Choices and Birthright “will complement each other.”
The Ames clinic’s location is off Highway 30 less than a mile from the university campus. Next to the clinic is a plasma center that students frequent to earn cash for their donations, Owen said. “It’s going to get great exposure.”
She said 70 to 80 clients visit the Iowa City clinic each month during the school year.
Informed Choice would like to have some presence — at least advertisements or a mobile unit — at each of Iowa’s 52 higher-education facilities that feed into the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, she said. “We’re competitive with Planned Parenthood on every level except marketing. We want our name throughout the state so students will remember, ‘Oh yeah, there’s Informed Choice, and that’s free.’”
The organization tries to be a voice for the unborn and offer alternatives for pregnant women, said Bob Sinclair. He is treasurer on the Informed Choice board of directors, a member of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg and a Fourth-degree Knight of Columbus. Informed Choice aims “to be a bastion of strength and hope for those in need.”
To donate money, office supplies, furniture or computers for the Ames clinic, visit http://informedchoiceia.org/clinics/ames or call Owen at (319) 337-0575.