Denver, Colo., Oct 30, 2015 / 02:01 am
When Jenny Langness took over as executive director of Real Choices Pregnancy Resource Center two years ago she was shocked by what little support it had from local churches, especially the Catholic ones.
"One of the things that surprised me was that not even all of the Catholic parishes supported us," she told CNA.
The previous pregnancy resource center she worked at in Fort Collins, Alpha Center, enjoyed abundant support from local churches – Catholic and Protestant alike.
Perhaps it was because no one at the center, which has locations in Lafayette and Boulder, Colo., was making the effort to reach out to local churches; but then it was "two years later and we still had no real church support."
Though her clinic is not Catholic, it embraces Church teaching in regards to human sexuality – "it's God's truth about our sexuality" she explained.
Since its founding in 1974, Real Choices has sought to offer free, life-affirming options for women facing unexpected pregnancies. Their care goes beyond the nine months of pregnancy, with services such as new parent support, healthy relationship education, post-abortive counseling, and referrals to community resources.
But not all of the local parishes knew that, nor did their pastors necessarily have the resources or time to research the dozens of pregnancy resource centers in the state of Colorado.
So Langness reached out for help from her longtime friend Lynn Grandon, who was then the director of Lighthouse Pregnancy Center, a pro-life pregnancy center that's part of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver's resources and is just steps away from a major Denver Planned Parenthood clinic.
She asked if Grandon could help her get some kind of endorsement from the Archdiocese of Denver – something to let Catholics, and their parishes, know that Real Choices embraces and supports Catholic teaching in regards to human sexuality.
When Grandon ran the idea by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, CEO Larry Smith suggested that Real Choices come under the umbrella of their services, just like Lighthouse did when it first opened.
"I've had a dream of the body of Christ coming together, united in supporting women in crisis pregnancy instead of through independent entities," Langness said.
"This is what it looks like for the body of Christ to come together to help women – and not just during their pregnancy."
She said Catholic Charities' invitation is just what she had dreamed of in her seven years working in women's healthcare.
"You can't compete (with Planned Parenthood) if there's all these places with different names," she said, referring to the dozens of women's health centers across the state. "But when you join forces, there's an economy of scale that's very powerful."
"If Planned Parenthood is (the) number one provider of women's healthcare in the U.S., then who's number two? Nobody ever has an answer. There isn't a name that comes to mind," Langness said.
"That just tells us there's a void in the marketplace and really our goal is to fill that slot. We want to become people's number two (choice). And then from there, it's not that big of a jump to the first spot."
Real Choices officially became a part of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver on Oct. 1.
"It was just so God-ordained because everybody had the same vision," she said.
Smith said of the new partnership: "In coming together, we believe we're building a foundation to counter the culture of death, and bring life and love to those in need."
The hope is that Catholic Charities will partner with even more pregnancy resource centers throughout the state of Colorado – an area where abortion giant Planned Parenthood is the "go-to" for young women's health care.
Smith said that by partnering with Real Choices, Denver Catholic Charities is moving in the right direction of helping provide "merciful, compassionate care for young women and families in need."
"Our goal is to create a women's medical service program with a series of centers in the archdiocese that can provide women with all kinds of services that Planned Parenthood already offers – except, of course, artificial birth control and abortions."