“This location is a testament to God's direction and the fact that God prepares in advance for us”
When out-of-state activists announced plans to open an abortion facility in Casper, Wyo., the board members and staff of the local pro-life pregnancy medical center pondered options for a greater presence in the community. Those thoughts became reality earlier this month.
“We jumped into action because we had already talked through things,” said True Care CEO Jessica Baxter. “We had a sketch of a plan in our heads, and so we just started looking, and that's where this location came from.”
Wellspring filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking to block a law banning chemical abortion in Wyoming along with a another broader ban after state legislators passed the pro-life laws in 2022 and 2023. The abortion center is located on Second Street, a main artery through Casper.
Although True Care’s first idea of another location, on Third Street, was nearby, that option fell through within five days of inquiry. The new location, a building vacant since last fall, is also located on Second Street, about two blocks from the abortion facility.
When one door closes, don’t think God is not moving, Baxter said.
“This location is a testament to God's direction and the fact that God prepares in advance for us,” she said.
“I talked with the leasing agent for the first location on a Thursday, and we had our board meeting the next Monday night, and the board was saying, ‘Yes, let’s move ahead on this second location,’” Baxter recalled.
Then Tuesday morning Baxter called the leasing agent, who informed Baxter that both offices had been rented in the previous five days.
“I just couldn't believe it – I was stunned,” Baxter told Pregnancy Help News. “But also, kind of questioning, ‘What are we were going to do, God? We know you have something for us, but this seemed like the perfect location.’”
Baxter and her family were amid selling their home and she decided to contact her realtor to see if he knew of other potential properties.
“He said, ‘Actually, just this morning, something came across my desk, and I thought of you guys,’” Baxter said.
He then sent Baxter the location.
“It was literally two blocks from the abortion clinic [on the same street],” she said.
There is a parking lot in the back from the alleyway, which is exactly where True Care’s sidewalk advocates would be, said Baxter, back behind that abortion center, because its entrance is from the alley.
“It’s a beautiful building, completely re-done, and the location was perfect!” Baxter said.
When researching last year about a possible second location, Baxter said she learned being near an abortion clinic was critical. Currently, True Care is about a 10-minute drive from the facility.
“We were told that was too far,” she said.
“The thing that really comes back to us over and over again is that we are being proactive about helping these women, providing them with love,” Baxter continued. “And to do that, we want to meet them where they are. And where they are is feeling this is their best or only option – to go to the abortion clinic – and if that's where they're going to be, that's where we're going to be.”
To meet women where they are, in addition to adding a second location, True Care also teamed up with Sidewalk Advocates for Life and began training volunteers earlier this month.
“Our program leader and myself and another supervisor in the organization are trained,” Baxter said. “The group will be led by one of our staff members. She'll be the program leader, but the folks actually out on the sidewalk, or in our case the alleyway, will be all volunteers from the community.”
Baxter said she reached out to “partner churches” to search for volunteer sidewalk advocates.
“We have some churches that have asked us to come present and/or have a table at their Sunday service so that folks can pick up information,” she said.
The training takes part of a day.
“It's a six-hour, video-based training, and it's all directly from Sidewalk Advocates for Life,” Baxter said. “There's care, custody, and control of quality of the message, made up of several different modules.”
Participants answer questions and talk about how each of those applies to their particular situation, she said. For instance, True Care isn’t on a sidewalk but an alleyway, and doesn't have a driveway, but they have a parking lot, the logistics behind those kinds of things. There always must be two advocates on-site for safety.
True Care plans more sidewalk advocate training during the next few months. The goal is to have at least 50 people serve as advocates, Baxter said.
Tweet This: We want to meet them where they are. And if the abortion clinic is where they're going to be, that's where we're going to be
True Care became a medical pregnancy resource center about 17 years ago and has occupied a location on Poplar Street, another main artery, since then. That location will remain for scheduled appointments, Baxter said, and the Second Street location will serve walk-ins brought by the sidewalk advocates.
Staff and volunteers step up
Baxter plans to align hours of operation at the second location with those of the abortion center, which, she said is two days a week, eight hours a day. A financial campaign has begun to fund the added expense of starting and operating the second True Care location for the rest of year, Baxter said, and the response has been positive.
True Care added a receptionist and an advocate. The nursing staff stepped up to fill in the additional hours, with the four of them rotating between the primary location and the new center.
“The nurses felt that they all could take a few more hours, rearrange some of their schedules, and then they could fill what we needed for now,” Baxter said. “It does take a long time to hire and train a nurse in limited obstetrical ultrasound.”
From scouring for furniture deals to staff members taking on new responsibilities and putting in extra time, Baxter said the endeavor to open a second location in about 30 days “has been a team effort.” Volunteers showed up the evening of May 4 to move furniture and supplies, including the ultrasound equipment. The goal is to open near the abortion facility on May 18.
Making an impact
Baxter, who calls herself “a data geek,” learned a pregnancy center near an abortion center can make a big difference.
“If you can impact an abortion clinic’s business by just 10 to 15 percent, you can possibly put them out of business,” she said. “That's how dependent they are on the abortion funds.”
Deterring even one out of 10 girls can drastically impact the abortion center’s business, Baxter explained.
“If just one out of ten women doesn't go to the abortion clinic, it could possibly put them out of business,” she said. “So, that advocate presence is literally priceless.”
Prayer is also priceless – and necessary.
“Our big prayer right now is that God would empower and strengthen our sidewalk advocates,” Baxter said. “They're the first face the women see, even before they get to the abortion clinic, so we’re asking for God's strength and empowerment, to take away the fear and hesitancy, that they step out with holy boldness.”
True Care staff will also be praying for the women seeking abortions.
“We’re asking God to also prepare the hearts of the women, and their partners and anyone else that's with them before they come [to the abortion clinic], that God would soften them to the possibility that they don't have to go through with the procedure that day,” said Baxter, “that they have time, that they can come and get information and services at True Care. It’s not a decision they’re making going to the abortion clinic – it’s a reaction. We empower them to make an informed decision, not just go with a reaction that they may regret later.”