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Pregnancy care center opens in Flossmoor to provide pro-life options

A pro-life faith-based women’s pregnancy care center has opened just down the road from Planned Parenthood’s Flossmoor location. Aid for Women, a nonprofit agency based in Deerfield, Ill., opened a new location at 3347 Vollmer Road in January.
 

A pro-life faith-based women’s pregnancy care center has opened just down the road from Planned Parenthood’s Flossmoor location. Aid for Women, a nonprofit agency based in Deerfield, Ill., opened a new location at 3347 Vollmer Road in January.
 
According to Aid for Women assistant director Frances Jimenez, the center is meant to be a welcoming place where women facing a pregnancy can come for counseling and assistance. Aid for Women is what Jimenez calls a life-affirming pregnancy center, one that does not perform abortions.
 
“We really feel there is a need for women to know there’s support for them out there to move forward with their pregnancy,” she said.
 
“They’re very panicked and making decisions out of panic and fear. We want to provide them with a safe place where they know they can receive ongoing support, not just for the short-run but for the long-run.”
 
A woman who visits Aid for Women is first welcomed by a volunteer greeter. She then meets with her client advocate, a dedicated staff member who listens to her concerns and helps her understand options for moving forward with pregnancy. 
 
Client advocates also connect pregnant women with local social service agencies that can assist with other aspects of support, such as medical care and housing. 
 
Aid for Women operates two maternity homes, Heather’s House in Des Plaines and Monica’s House in Chicago. These communal living spaces provide pregnant women and new mothers with a stable home and community support during their transition into motherhood.
 
A Catholic faith-based organization, Aid for Women was founded in 1978 by the late Thomas Bresler, then a deacon at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Deerfield. 
 
It has since expanded to include five pregnancy care centers in the Chicago area, including the Flossmoor location. According to Jimenez, the organization has an annual operating budget of $1.5 million.
 
The four established Aid for Women centers serve about 4,000 women per year, Jimenez said. A group of employees and contracted workers, including client advocates and ultrasound sonographers, staffs the network of centers. 
 
Operation of the pregnancy care centers is overseen by Dr. Anthony J. Caruso, a Chicago-area obstetrician who is a vocal advocate for faith-based pregnancy organizations. 
 
“Our medical director is one of the leading pro-life OB/GYNs in the country,” Jimenez said. 
 
The Flossmoor pregnancy care center features two counseling and consultation rooms, a conference room, an intimate chapel space and an ultrasound room. Women can visit Aid for Women to take a pregnancy test, and then contracted sonographers perform ultrasounds to confirm and determine viability of the pregnancy.
 
Aid for Women pregnancy care centers also offer a 24-hour helpline and an Earn While You Learn program, which encourages pregnant women and young mothers to attend education sessions and earn baby supplies from the on-site Baby Boutique.
 
According to its promotional material, which Jimenez said is being distributed locally, Aid for Women also offers “abortion pill reversal.” This controversial procedure is performed with a goal of stopping an abortion instigated by Mifiprex, the so-called morning-after pill. In August 2017, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the practice of “abortion pill reversal” is not supported by science, “unproven and unethical.”
 
Funding for the new Flossmoor location was raised by Southland Coalition for Life, an organization of pro-life advocates in the Homewood-Flossmoor area who were upset by the opening of a Planned Parenthood health center in Flossmoor.
 
Among its services, Planned Parenthood offers abortion care. After it opened, the group began a movement against the organization, and started raising funds for a center that aligned with its values.
 
“We were open in response to Planned Parenthood. There were some members of the community who had concerns about Planned Parenthood and their practices,” Jimenez said. 
 
“So this group quickly came together, Southland Coalition for Life. Their three purposes were to educate, pray and open up a pregnancy center to provide women with the other side, the options they have.”
 
Jimenez said the Flossmoor care center is Aid for Women’s first storefront location, made visible by a large white script-font sign fronting Governors Highway. The agency expects to see local women who rely on social service programs for essential services, as well as students from Homewood-Flossmoor High School and Prairie State College, she said.
 
“All our centers reflect the neighborhood they’re in. We really hope to reach the diverse clientele who might be here,” Jimenez said. “If it’s in their heart and mind to move forward with their pregnancy, we want them to know they will have support from us.”
 

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