By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — The first leader of the Women’s Choice Center, which opened 21 years ago, returned to Iowa to give the keynote address at the annual fundraising dinner Sept. 26, reflecting on the center’s role in saving lives and changing hearts.
“For 21 years the Women’s Choice Center has been on the front line,” said Lynn Grandon, who served as executive director of the pro-life center from 2002-2007. Volunteers, board members and staff have been the driving force in changing hearts and giving witness to the message that “life has meaning and true beauty,” she said, speaking inside the Waterfront Convention Center.
She shared that at age 40 — married and a mom — she experienced an unexpected pregnancy, with twins. She chose life. Later, while leading the Women’s Choice Center, she felt she had a better perspective of the experiences of some women seeking the center’s help.
Grandon recalled the battle that began in the 1990s between pro-life and pro-choice people when Planned Parenthood decided to build in the Quad Cities. When the abortion provider chose a site in Bettendorf, “we chose to purchase land across the street and build,” Grandon said. “We were not afraid.”
After the clinic opened, supporters of the Women’s Choice Center (which began in a trailer), responded in creative ways to the animosity that Planned Parenthood demonstrated toward pro-life prayer warriors. When Planned Parenthood installed a sprinkler and turned it on the day that surgical abortions were performed, “God’s people got creative. We put kids in bathing suits and let them play in the sprinkler,” Grandon said. The crowd laughed.
Planned Parenthood “sent people to us if they had no money or needed diapers.” The Women’s Choice Center chose to respond with kindness. When Planned Parenthood’s director at the time was ill, a prayer warrior brought her cookies and the book “Unplanned” by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood worker who became a pro-life advocate. When the worker who had been ill returned to Planned Parenthood, “she was escorted out by the guard an hour and a half later and never came back,” Grandon said. The crowd clapped.
“We are thankful for how God has protected us and blessed us,” Grandon continued. The first babies saved from abortion through the efforts of the Women’s Choice Center are now young adults. She said she could not have imagined the changes that would take place over the years. She cited the closing of the Bettendorf Planned Parenthood clinic and the Dobbs decision last year in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Abortion remains legal in Iowa, however, and the Women’s Choice Center still has a future, she said. An unplanned pregnancy is “not a burden, inconvenience or accident. It is a miracle.”
Earlier in the evening, Eleza Miller, Life and Family Educational Trust board president, thanked the Quad- City community for its support. Life & Family “gave birth to the Women’s Choice Center. Nearly 1,800 (documented) babies have been born because of our affirming and loving care,” she said.
She viewed the closing of Planned Parenthood and the Supreme Court decision as answers to prayers. The rainbow that formed after a heavy rainstorm just before the dinner “is affirmation of God’s promise.”
The past 18 months have been challenging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Supreme Court decision, she said. One challenge is finding ways to ensure that people can find the center’s phone number and contact information on the internet. “We have been blacklisted. It costs an incredible amount of money for women who seek an abortion to be led to us (online). Will you be willing to stand firm and alongside us?” she asked the gathering.
Dr. Julie Schroeder of the Life & Family Medical Center, which shares a building with the Women’s Choice Center (the former Planned Parenthood clinic), talked about the care the medical center provides from birth to natural death. Other talks focused on Real Choices, a program for grades 7-12 and another program for grades 4-5 that teaches healthy choices and moral values. Another talk explained the abortion pill reversal, which saved a baby’s life.
The center offers abortion pill information, free pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, STI testing, pregnancy support, material assistance, perinatal hospice, referrals and more. For information about the Women’s Choice Center, visit www.womenschoicecenter.org or call (563) 332-0475.