It’s a strategic goal of most pro-life pregnancy centers to locate as closely as they can to an abortion provider, giving a woman considering abortion one last chance to make a choice for life.
So, when a sidewalk counselor praying in front of a large Planned Parenthood in downtown Baltimore noticed a “For Sale” sign on the office next door in January, he called Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns with an offer.
He would purchase the space outright, giving the center its fifth location—and first next door to an abortion business.
After a walk-through of the premises, however, the center did the unthinkable and turned down his offer. The price tag to renovate the three-story facility into anything remotely useful was too steep to move forward.
Two days later, another man called. He too was a volunteer sidewalk counselor in front of the Planned Parenthood, and, hearing that the center had turned down the first man’s proposal, he offered to cover the remaining costs.
Soon, a third man contacted Carol Clews, the organization’s executive director, volunteering his services as an architect at no cost.
“Out of a clear blue sky, God shot his lightning bolt right next door to Planned Parenthood,” Robert Gaines, the center’s director of development said. “It became clear after that second offer that God was on the move. And he absolutely wanted to place us there, so we reconsidered.”
With the office space in need of a full gut and remodel, Clews and Gaines say they hope to start serving clients by at least the end of 2017, adding to a current client load of 1,200 women each year.
At three stories, the space will be larger than what the center needs to serve its own clients, so the hope is to use the additional space to welcome in other tenants with complimentary missions that include adoption, post-abortive healing and community resources.
Founded in 1980 as one of the very first urban pregnancy centers in the nation, the center’s new location next door to Planned Parenthood is just around the corner from another first—the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first Catholic cathedral built in the U.S.
“Our community is so excited,” Clews said. “They feel so strongly that this is of the Lord that they just can’t stand it. From parish priests to ministers of churches, to people on our donor lists, to people we see at various meetings, everybody is just awestruck.”
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When the new location opens up, it will join a growing number of ultrasound-equipped centers next door to abortion businesses, including those in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Florida, San Diego, New Orleans and Kansas. Another pro-life organization is in the process of relocating next to an abortion clinic in Raleigh, N.C. as well.
Gaines said his strategy for relaying the news to people for the first time boils down to a formula so simple it may not be found in most fundraising how-to books.
“I say, ‘God has really done something unique recently and I want to show it to you,’” Gaines said. “I don’t tell them what it’s about, I just tell them to look up Google and put in the address of 328 North Howard St., Baltimore. It’s just shock and awe when I show that to folks, but that’s where we’ll be.”
While the new location marks a new chapter at Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, the center is already a known entity to the national abortion lobby—which knows its bottom line is more and more in jeopardy with every pro-life center that opens near an abortion business.
When the city of Baltimore imposed a city ordinance on pro-life centers in 2010, forcing them to post signage saying they did not offer or refer for abortions or birth control, the center took legal action against the mayor and city council, stopping the law from taking effect and kick-starting a legal process that is still ongoing.
In spite of the abortion lobby’s failure to make the law stick in Baltimore—costing taxpayers $330,000 at the county level, in addition to legal fees—similar legislation has been adopted at the state level in a California law that is likely headed to the Supreme Court.
Hawaii, meanwhile, is poised to enact a law that mirrors the California legislation, while Illinois adopted a 2016 change to its Healthcare Right of Conscience Act that would force pro-life medical professionals—including those at pregnancy centers—to refer their patients for abortions and counsel them as to the “benefits” of the procedure.
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“It’s incredible to watch how God works even through the designs of those who oppose the life-saving work of pregnancy help centers,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International—a worldwide network of 2,100 affiliates, including Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns—said. “We expect to be opposed in this work, so it’s encouraging to see God’s people so richly bless his people after they’ve remained steadfast in an especially difficult season.
“Most importantly, we look forward to the good reports of lives saved from the violence of abortion right next door to Planned Parenthood in Baltimore.”