By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A 37 ½- foot-long mobile medical clinic arrived Oct. 22 at the RiverCenter to show supporters of the Women’s Choice Center what they could obtain from capital campaign money. The pro-life center, based in Bettendorf, launched a $1.2 million capital campaign that day titled “Reaching Out … Building Families … Saving Lives.”
A little more than $1 million would go toward purchase of a mobile medical unit and its operation and staffing for five years. The remaining $200,000 would be placed in an endowment fund, supporters told around 350 people who attended the event.
Mark and Lisa Gramm of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, drove their medical unit to the kickoff event. The couple gave tours to supporters of Women’s Choice Center, which is operated by Life & Family Educational Trust.
Lisa showed patrons the medical unit’s waiting area, which seats several people. Testing for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and other conditions is done in the second section. Ultrasounds and exams are conducted in the third section. Each section can be closed and the entire unit is soundproof to maintain healthcare privacy requirements. Clients enter from the front and exit from the back, allowing more than one client to be in the unit at a time.
The Rev. Dwight Ford, pastor of Grace City Church in Moline, Illinois, and his wife, Kit, were masters of ceremony. “We need to advocate and to stand up for the unborn,” Rev. Ford said. Supporting the capital campaign is one way to do that.
Vicki Tyler, the Women’s Choice Center executive director, said around 600 unborn children’s lives have been saved because of the center. She and others have been contemplating a medical mobile unit for some time and got to view a smaller one earlier this year. She and her husband, Pastor Todd Tyler, traveled to Pittsburgh to see the large version.
While there, she asked the Gramms to consider driving the unit to the Quad-Cities for the kickoff event. A week later, Lisa called Tyler and said, “If it would save babies, we will be there.” An organization called Save the Storks sells the mobile medical units.
The Women’s Choice Center envisions a mobile medical unit traveling in the metro Quad Cities four days a week and once a month to areas such as Muscatine, Parkview and Eldridge in Iowa and Geneseo and Galesburg in Illinois. On Saturdays, it would be stationed in mall parking lots or at major events. Sundays, the unit would be shown to churches.
Additional staff would be needed: two registered nurses/licensed sonographers, two client advocates/witnesses and a driver with a CDL license. The driver would assist people as needed, including with babysitting, and do maintenance. Funding would cover insurance, maintenance and other needs.
Paul Isaacs, COO of Save the Storks, said the company partners with pregnancy resource centers across the U.S. to reach out to abortion-minded women. “Three out of five women who get in that unit and view an ultrasound change their mind,” he said. Crisis centers offer women “love and compassion when they feel they are hopeless,” he added. “We go to them. They do not have to seek us out.”
During the kickoff event Women’s Choice Center Clinical Director Claudia Roa conducted an ultrasound on a volunteer inside the unit. Images were projected on two large screens in the RiverCenter.
Jessica Ricke gave a witness talk about her crisis pregnancy. She discovered she was pregnant after breaking up with her boyfriend. She had moved back home and had a minimum-wage job. Although she was against abortion, she felt it was her only choice. She saw an ad in the Yellow Pages that read, “Are you considering an abortion?” She called the number listed, for the Women’s Choice Center. A friend drove her to the appointment. Ricke pointed to the left side of the road. Her friend said, no, you want the right side, where Planned Parenthood was located.
Ricke checked the address on her phone and said, no, the left. Ricke said she left the Women’s Choice Center feeling supported and with lots of resources. Her son is now 9 years old. She married the boy’s father and they are now expecting their fourth child. Ricke also serves as the Women’s Choice Center development director.
Morgan Leffel offered her testimonial as well, focusing on perinatal hospice. Her unborn child had multiple health problems and “zero percent chance for survival.” Abortion was recommended. But an aunt suggested she go to Women’s Choice Center. Leffel appreciated the ultrasounds, support and resources she received. “I spend so many precious moments watching my baby on the ultrasound.” She also found a prayer group. “I knew it would be OK.” On April 10, 2015, daughter Rose was born. She was 8 inches long and weighed 2.3 pounds. She left the world that day “to be with the Lord” after spending several precious hours with family members.
Attendees at the kickoff received information packets which Steve Goebel, a campaign chair, asked them to wait to open until a day or so after returning home. Then, “Pray for 10 minutes. Pray for (the Women’s Choice Center). Pray for discernment. Ask God what he wants you to do.” After opening the packets, consider making a campaign contribution. Two significant commitments have been made already. “Only a million to go!” he said.
Robert Gochee, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine who has served on the Life and Family board, said he has been waiting five years for a mobile medical unit for the center.
For more information, call the Women’s Choice Center at (563) 322-0475.