Over seven thousand abortions are performed annually in San Antonio, with Planned Parenthood vowing to raise that number by as many 3,000 with the mega-center it has in the works.
But that’s not going to happen if Life Choices Medical Clinic’s executive director Charity Farrar can help it. Her organization is working toward an expansion that will equip them to see 7,000 patients annually—almost triple the number they see today.
“I know for a fact that if we help them with regular medical care, they will come to us first,” Farrar said. “And then if they should not pay attention to the message they get here the first time, and have a crisis pregnancy, we're going to be their first line of defense . . . rather than going to an abortion clinic.
“My ultimate goal: if I can't legislate Planned Parenthood out of existence, I will make them irrelevant by taking away all their patients.”
That goal may not be far-fetched, given Life Choices’ history.
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Charity Farrar had only recently become executive director of what was then Agape Pregnancy Help Center when Focus on the Family representatives found her at a conference in 2010.
“They said, ‘We want to talk to you because you are in Abortion Alley. We would like to give you a grant to be medical pregnancy center,’” Farrar said of the initial contact with Focus on the Family.
Farrar’s background as a banking executive in California gave her little knowledge of the “alley” her center occupied in San Antonio. At that time, she said, “We were doing a fantastic job passing out diapers, and telling girls that Jesus loved them. But we didn't do a very good job of saving babies.”
Her board voted to take Focus on the Family up on its proposal. Along with The Life Choice grant from Focus on the Family, the center also received legal help from The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) to move toward adding free ultrasound services.
From 8 Babies Saved to 452… In One Year
Then, the local Knights of Columbus called with a second surprise. “Our council wants to buy an ultrasound, and we cannot find anybody willing to work with us,” they told Farrar. “Would you let us buy you an ultrasound?"
With the donated machine, and training from Sonography Now, Agape’s staff grew to include a registered diagnostic medical sonographer who could train others.
After updating their name to Life Choices Medical Clinic, the center had moved to a larger space at 3234 Northwestern Drive on the northern edge of San Antonio in 2011. There, in 2012, they performed free ultrasounds for the first time.
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“Since that time, God has been on the move,” Farrar said. “We have seen almost exclusively abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable girls. We hardly ever see carry-minded girls any more. In 2012, we saved 452 babies. Now mind you, a year before that we had saved eight.”
Life Choices then added STI testing and treatment in 2013. Patient numbers continued rising, even though the center’s only marketing consisted of speaking with college students at campus health fairs.
Life-Affirming Well-Woman Care
Next came free well-woman exams, added in 2015.
“We do annual Paps and pelvics and lab work,” Farrar said. “When they come in, they get a really good annual exam, because we go over everything. We look for pre-diabetes, liver function, we do their complete blood count, we talk about their weight, we do counseling on nutrition, [and] we do an extensive history to see where they need to have issues addressed.
“We pride ourselves on doing things better than anybody else out there . . . because we are the children of the King,” Farrar said. “When our patients come in to see us, they get the absolutely very best care that is available to them because we do answer to God for that.”
To provide those annual exams, Life Choices has partnered with the medical school at University of Texas’ Health Science Center. “We have medical students and residents and faculty doctors come over,” Farrar said. “They see our well-woman patients.”
Since San Antonio’s population includes many women who are uninsured or unable to afford the high deductibles of their government-mandated insurance, Life Choices is meeting a huge need.
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“This year we will probably see about 2,500 patients,” Farrar said. “In the last four years, we have rescued over 2,200 babies from abortion. This year we've already had close to 100 confessions of faith in Jesus Christ.
“And we are educating our families,” Farrar said. “We have fatherhood classes where we're training our young men to be great dads, we have motherhood classes, general parenting, material assistance; we have breastfeeding classes, nutrition classes. We're getting ready to start our childbirth class. We have home safety classes that are taught by EMTs.”
Another Claim Planned Parenthood Can’t Match
The recent growth has presented a new challenge for Life Choices, which is finding itself outgrowing its present facility. So, they have launched the Spark of Life project, named after the flash of light scientists have recently discovered occurring at the moment of conception.
The campaign aims to raise the $20 million needed to expand the clinic into Life Choices Medical Clinic and Family Resource Center.
“We are buying property and building a first-class, state-of-the-art family and medical resource center from the ground up,” Farrar said. “Our medical facility will be 23,000 square feet. We will extend our services into prenatal care, and we will have a 15,000-square-foot education and family resource center all rolled into one.”
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The new medical facility will be built to specification and then certified by the American Ambulatory Association for Health Care. This certification “gives the community a sense of confidence because somebody is watching what we do,” Farrar said.
“None—zero—of the Planned Parenthood clinics are certified.”
Breaking Ground, Establishing a Template
In the new facility, Life Choices will be able to have an in-house lab to not only handle their own patient load, but to help process tests for other pregnancy help efforts in the area.
In addition to all the medical services, the center will house a demonstration kitchen where families can learn to cook nutritious food—some of which will be grown in the center’s own garden. Life Choices will also expand its job training program, helping parents become self-sufficient providers for their families.
Carol Everett, CEO of The Heidi Group, which recently won a $1.6 million grant to fund the type of services offered by Life Choices all throughout Texas, affirmed the importance of the organization’s growing services.
“Pregnancy Centers do a wonderful job,” Everett, a former abortion clinic owner, said. “We do the pregnancy tests, we do the sonograms, we lay counsel, we mentor, we walk her through the pregnancy, we get her on her feet as a parent or after lovingly placing that baby for adoption, and then where does she go for well-woman exams?
“Many times we leave her to go back to Planned Parenthood or to abortion providers. Life Choices is interrupting that cycle. They are offering her well-woman health care from a life-affirming perspective to walk her thru the trials of life but also the trials of medical care. It's going to be a wonderful addition.”
The team at Life Choices Medical Clinic hopes their expansion will become a model for other pregnancy help centers.
“We want to document everything we do to help other centers move ahead and do the same thing,” Farrar said. “I can put Planned Parenthood out of business in my town, but I can't do it in Oklahoma City. We need someone in Oklahoma City to do it.
“We want to be the lightning rod that enables other centers to see that it can be done, and that God will be with you, and you can change your community. Together we can do this.”