By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — The fight over abortion is not over. “You are the army, but your work is not done,” Vicki Tyler, former executive director of the Women’s Choice Center said during a fundraising luncheon and dinner Sept. 27. The Praying it Forward events at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf also marked the 20th anniversary of the center’s opening. Around 560 people attended.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade earlier this summer, abortion is still legal in 30 states; 10 states have restrictions and 10 states do not offer abortions, Tyler said. She believes “Illinois has become an abortion tourist destination.” The state has 18 Planned Parenthood clinics “and you can be assured there will be more.”
In Iowa, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks in a woman’s pregnancy. Eight Planned Parenthood clinics, the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics provide abortions in the state, Tyler said. Legislation supporting a Protect Life Amendment that states the Iowa Constitution does not recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion or require public funding for abortion passed in 2021. It needs to pass in the next General Assembly in 2023 or 2024 before advancing to a referendum for Iowa’s voters to decide.
The Women’s Choice Center also works to reverse medical abortions. The center’s then-medical director Dr. Karla Polaschek had learned about an abortion pill reversal option, researched it and helped establish a protocol to offer that option in 2014. “We have saved five babies and two more are set to deliver,” Tyler said smiling.
She recalled receiving a call on a Saturday from a woman who wanted to carry her baby to term but had already taken the first set of abortion pills. The woman and her boyfriend drove more than an hour to the center and Polaschek started the first reversal treatment. The couple returned the next day for the second round. “She had been experiencing cramps. We prayed,” Tyler said. However, the woman lost her unborn fetus during that appointment. “We kept in contact. The couple married and got pregnant and they brought their baby to see us. This is a redemptive story of love,” Tyler said.
She said people ask about the need for pregnancy centers today. “We are needed now, more than ever,” Tyler said. “Planned Parenthood is looking here in the Quad Cities (to open a new clinic). It’s all about profit and we are the last defense,” she said.
“We still offer our services and show love and respect no matter what views are expressed.” Tyler encouraged supporters to vote pro-life, pray, assist mothers and babies, become foster parents and consider adoption, help a single mother, pray outside an abortion clinic, stand up for life and have a conversation with love and respect.
“Only God can make abortion unthinkable,” she said. “More than 63 million unborn children have been killed in the U.S. alone. We need to continue the battle for life with Quad Cities Right to Life, Life and Family Coalition (which operates the Women’s Choice Center), Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. … You can stand up for life by praying, volunteering and with your financial support.”
Julie Bush, a longtime supporter of the Women’s Choice Center, said its annual budget is $600,000. “We must keep on pace in this post-Roe era.” She has served with Life and Family for several years and her late husband Steve helped convert the former Planned Parenthood building into the Women’s Choice Center and Life and Family Medical office. The Planned Parenthood Bettendorf facility closed in 2017 and the new Women’s Choice Center opened there in 2018.
Father Rich Adam, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, opened the evening event with prayer. Dr. Julie Schroeder gave an update on the Life and Family Medical center as its director. Sarah Jansen talked about the Real Choices program that goes into schools to provide presentations about saving sex for marriage, the sanctity of life and being a voice for the unborn. Sarah Leinart gave an update and shared a story about the center’s perinatal hospice program. Throughout the evening, Courtney Woeber played the guitar and sang.
“Prayer has been a constant for us,” Tyler said. “God moves through prayer. The question before each one of us is — what will we do?”