When Camille Cassin began looking for a new location for Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center, she knew she didn’t want to relocate her organization away from the its location in the midst of a high-abortion rate area.
“We didn’t want to venture outside of the community, because what would happen if Turning Point was not there?” Cassin, who has served as executive director for the past nine years of the 15-year-old pregnancy center’s history, said.
The negotiation process for the San Diego-based pregnancy help center began last summer when its lease was ending for its current location, a multi-building business district within five miles of two abortion clinics. Turning Point PRC, along with its neighboring tenants, had already begun having problems with signage restrictions, which limited the center’s visibility to potential clients.
“It’s a business district, so they just didn’t want a lot of signage because it would make it more retail,” Cassin said. “We went to the property manager last month and said this is a key thing for us—we have to have signage. They said no, so we said we need to move.”
Little did Cassin know, provision had already been made for Turning Point PRC’s relocation, which would place the center in an extraordinarily strategic spot to continue supporting families and saving lives.
A year ago this October, Cassin, along with Turning Point PRC staff and volunteers accepted a prayer invitation from representatives with 40 Days for Life, one of the world’s largest pro-life movement mobilization campaigns, whose efforts to end abortion include organizing prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics. Cassin and her team huddled together in an open walkway next to Family Planning Associates abortion clinic, peacefully praying for an hour as abortion clinic workers and their clients passed by.
“We started praying Isaiah 61, which is set the captives free—that whole passage,” Cassin said.
Tweet This: @TurningPointPRC's new location, right next to #abortion facility, started with @40daysforlife praying.
Unbeknownst to Cassin and the group at the time, Turning Point PRC’s relocation a year later would be the answer to their prayers as the pregnancy help center would be set to inhabit the very space where they had been praying. Cassin said God “shut all the doors” to 24 available properties and left only one location as an option for the ministry’s move.
“That spot where we prayed, that’s the spot where we are going to be,” she said. “That is the very store front where we are going in October.
“We are literally sharing a wall with [the abortion clinic].”
Cassin anticipates the tremendous impact Turning Point PRC can have on abortion-minded clients who will be walking in and out of the neighboring abortion clinic, Family Planning Associates. Turning Point’s presence, however, is purposed not to instill grief, guilt or shame, but to show God’s love, compassion, mercy and grace to those clients, she said.
“For those women that are on the fence who are scared, who don’t want to do it, our sign is going to say ‘pregnancy resource center,’” Cassin said. “They are going to know that there’s a place they can come to, to talk it through.”
Vivian Koob, executive director of Elizabeth’s New Life Center—which operates six locations in the Dayton, OH, area, knows the impact this type of God-inspired location strategy can bring to a pregnancy help center.
“Our center started as a result of sidewalk counseling in front of an abortion clinic, so as soon as a unit became available next door, we bought it and moved our small center there,” said Koob, who founded Elizabeth's New Life Center in 1989, along with her husband. “We were able to reach many more abortion-minded women because of that location.”
Koob said clients looking for the abortion clinic often walked through their pregnancy help center’s doors by mistake, an opportunity she and her staff welcomed and didn’t waste.
“Once they had an opportunity to hear the life-empowering message of carrying their child to term and seeing the ultrasound, in most cases, they changed their minds and no longer wanted an abortion,” Koob said.
Cassin realizes Turning Point PRC will most likely receive similar outreach opportunities, while operating so close to an abortion clinic.
Consequently, she is making a special effort to update Turning Point PRC’s policies and procedures to ensure a positive experience for everyone.
“We will be working with NIFLA (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates) just to make sure some of our in-house policies and procedures are up to snuff, because we just want to make sure when a woman does walk in, if she thinks she’s going into Family Planning Associates, that we do everything well,” Cassin said. “We’re not going to hide who we are, and we’re not going to mislead her.”
Turning Point PRC will continue offering its current client services, that incude options counseling, ultrasounds, post-abortion counseling and support, and abstinence education, at the new location. In 2016, the center plans to offer the RU 486 abortion pill reversal process, a protocol developed in San Diego by Dr. George Delgado.
Jeanne Pernia, clinic director for Heartbeat of Miami Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics, said abortion clinics are very strategic in planning their locations, opting to find communities where women are most vulnerable. She believes pregnancy help centers should be just as sagacious in planting new centers or relocating existing ones. Women are truly offered a choice when pregnancy help centers can be found near or next door to abortion clinics, she said.
Tweet This: Women are offered a choice when a #prolife center is next door to an #abortion clinic. @pregnancyhelp
Pernia once owned the abortion clinic that is now home to Heartbeat of Miami Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics. She said the trend of pregnancy help centers relocating near or next to abortion clinics is a sign and strategy from God.
“God has positioned them,” Pernia said. “They are the front line and I can assure them that God will send women to see them before they step next door [to the abortion clinic].”
Cassin said one of the main goals for Turning Point PRC is not to distance itself from Family Planning Associates. She doesn’t want the wall the two facilities will begin sharing in October to represent a wedge between them and their clients.
“We hope that women who have had abortions know that we’re a safe haven,” she said. “We hope we can draw the abortion clinic workers out of a place of darkness and into a place of light.”