By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — Kathryn Bohn recalled the first “save” of the Women’s Choice Center, even before it officially opened its doors. She shared the story during an open house for volunteers at the pro-life center April 20.
Violet and her boyfriend James had stopped by the site of the future pro-life center, intending to get directions to Iowa City for her scheduled abortion. “They had an appointment in one hour,” Bohn said. The couple saw a sign that read, “Mommy, please let me live” on the property of the Life and Family Coalition, which was working to raise funds for a permanent structure. A trailer was being prepared as a temporary center for clients but was not in operation yet. James opened the trailer’s door and found a worker inside.
“Oh, you’re not open,” he told the painter who later told Bohn that the Holy Spirit inspired him to get help for the man. The painter went up the hill to get Bohn. James confided that he did not want Violet to abort their child. Bohn knocked on the passenger window of the couple’s car and told Violet it was too late to get to Iowa City. Bohn used other delay tactics to keep the couple from leaving.
After talking with Violet, Bohn called Dr. Karla Bladel (now Van Keulen), a pro-life ob/gyn who later became the center’s medical director. The women met, Violet had an ultrasound and decided she would continue her pregnancy. Baby Joshua was born Aug. 31, 2001. “It was our first save,” Bohn said.
Women’s Choice Center volunteers from the last 20 years reunited and shared stories, toured the facility and ate cake. Executive Director Linda Rubey said about 70 current and former volunteers attended the open house. Volunteers are essential to the pro-life operation to support and make available the services offered, she said. The number of teenage volunteers has been growing.
Although teens cannot have contact with clients, Rubey said they are able to clean, assemble diaper packages for distribution, sort clothes and do other tasks.
Adult volunteers answer the phones, serve at the front desk, enter computer data, help clients check in for appointments or pregnancy tests and perform other duties. “Volunteers do not have to talk with clients,” Rubey said. “We have other opportunities.”
The Women’s Choice Center, which started in a yellow trailer in the parking lot in 2001, moved into its first permanent building across the street from the current facility. The former center, still owned by Life and Family Coalition, houses a Christian daycare. The Women’s Choice Center moved into its current facility, the former Planned Parenthood building, in 2018. “God showers us with surprises all the time,” Rubey said.
A 20 year anniversary of the Women’s Choice Center is planned for this July. The day will include videos and stories as part of the celebration. Details on the date, time and all activities will be released closer to the event.