.- Pro-life advocates in Aurora, Illinois are planning to open a women’s center in a strip mall a block away from a Planned Parenthood clinic to counsel women who have had abortions and to help pregnant women continue their pregnancies and raise their children.
The Waterleaf Women’s Center was dedicated on Sunday afternoon by Catholic clergy and about 75 supporters. It plans to open for business in several weeks, the Naperville Sun says.
Three local women began searching for office space and raising funds for the project in January.
Waterleaf board president Kelly Gorsky told the Naperville Sun that the center’s core mission is to urge pregnant women not to have abortions. It has set a goal of preventing one abortion per week.
Gorsky said fundraising for the project has gone well. The center will offer pregnancy tests and free counseling services.
The center’s clients will speak to professional or volunteer counselors who can refer them to services such as adoption agencies or financial assistance programs.
"We want women to know that there's a whole network of people that can help," Gorsky continued, adding that the center will work closely with Project Gabriel, a Catholic-run program that provides needy mothers with anything from cash assistance to free babysitting.
Waterleaf board member Maura Marcotte, a trained counselor, said financial hardship is a significant reason women consider abortions. Providing post-pregnancy support will be a key task.
Cyndi Crane, a Waterleaf board member who will work as a full time counselor, said the center will give clients information about the risks of abortion but will never try to frighten or intimidate clients.
"We're a resource center that's here just to present the facts and let (clients) know what kind of help is available,” she told the Naperville Sun.
Crane added that the center will also offer counseling to women who have had abortions, pledging that she would not abandon a client “no matter what choice they make.”
According to the Waterleaf Women’s Center website, Crane is president of the center and a single mother who eighteen years ago chose to give birth to her daughter, Jillian, despite doctors’ recommendations to have an abortion.
Board members acknowledged that proximity to the abortion clinic was a major factor in their work to open the center.
The Planned Parenthood clinic opened amid controversy in 2007. Opponents charged that the building had been deceptively presented as an office complex when in fact it was an abortion clinic.
The Waterleaf Women’s Center website is at http://www.waterleafwc.org