Pro-life activists are converting a building immediately next door to a Georgia abortion clinic into a pregnancy resource center, in hopes of dissuading women who visit the clinic from having an abortion.
“We probably will be getting girls coming in who aren’t necessarily abortion-mined but just kind of feel trapped,” Seneca Choices for Life co-founder Kelly Tolman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “You see a lot of girls dropped off [at the abortion clinic] by a husband, by a boyfriend, by a mom, by a pimp, by a taxi; I mean you just never know.”
“And then they’re sitting there, and we want them to have two doors to be able to walk into.” (RELATED: Abortion ‘Spa’ Opens In DC)
She and co-founder Kalan Walker are finalizing plans to purchase the building just 10 feet away from a local abortion clinic owned by abortion activist Diane Derzis, who also owns the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi and has said she’s doing God’s work.
They’ll convert it into an unabashedly pro-life pregnancy resource center offering women long-term support and resources. “They don’t necessarily go to the abortion clinic because they want an abortion, they’re going to solve a problem that they have,” Tolman told TheDCNF.
Seneca has not informed the clinic of their plan, but has reached out to them in an effort to establish a peaceful relationship. But Tolman estimates the clinic performs about 25 abortions a week, and hopes to take some of that business. (RELATED: These Four Republicans Voted Against The House-Passed Abortion Ban)
Derzis did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
“That parking lot right there is just, there’s just this heaviness there,” she added. “It’s dark. Nobody pulls into that driveway happy. I mean it is an unhappy place. It breaks my heart for every girl there, every father, every mother. It’s tough.”
The 4,500 square foot center will network with local pro-life organizations and individuals to provide them with a free ultrasound, counseling, job training and education, parenting classes, access to healthcare and baby items, among other resources.
“We want to be able to just sit down and talk, and say: ‘What are your needs? What are your fears? What brought you to the abortion clinic? What can we help you with?'”
Other pro-life centers and activists have warned Tolman and Walker not to be so overt about their stance on abortion, because no one will take them seriously and a lot of women will be turned off. “It’s been weird,” Tolman said.
“You can’t create a pro-life culture if you lie about who you are, and you can’t become mainstream if you’re hiding who you are, and you really probably don’t sound that proud of what you’re doing if you’re lying about it. And I just don’t feel comfortable with that.” (RELATED: DNC Head: Abortion Should Have Zero Restrictions. ‘Period.’)
She and her team have been strategizing about how to make the center welcoming to women who show up at the abortion clinic. On the wall facing the abortion clinic, they’ll paint a mural with Seneca’s hope statement, and make the clinic itself bright, crisp and clean.
Another local pro-life group has positioned sidewalk counselors outside the abortion clinic for years, and will also be prepared to guide women to the pregnancy center.
Other pro-life groups have said that the trick is to keep your views to yourself until a girl is inside their clinic, but Tolman disagrees: “We’ve been told, ‘You’re not going to get those-abortion minded girls, because you need to get them to wander in, and then you need to hit them with the Gospel, and you need to hit them with the ultrasound and you need to hit them,'” she said. “And then they’ll choose life and everything will be great.”
“As somebody who has been there myself, I wouldn’t have appreciated that at all,” she said. “I wanted honesty.”
Tolman decided against an abortion when she was 19 and working while in college. She scheduled three different appointments at abortion clinics, but something stopped her each time, and she took that as a sign to go home and “figure it out.”
“And it was hard,” she said. “I did have to drop out of school, and I didn’t have a place to live for awhile, and 9/11 had just happened, and my husband enlisted. He was my boyfriend at the time, and we got married, and it was really hard.”
She joined the pro-life movement after her son, who is now 12, was born.
“Most of the time, pro-life centers get that ‘yes,’ that ‘choose life,’ and then that’s it,” she said. “We want to be able to say, ‘Look we’re going to do this with you for the next 18 to 24 months, but you need to do this with us.'”
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