When Planned Parenthood opened a new abortion facility in Flossmoor, Ill., Just south of Chicago, last January, Kris Cortes and her husband Dennis knew they had to act.
So, with a small group of pro-life friends, they held a meeting in the Cortes’ living room and quickly formed a core group that would come to be known as the Southland Coalition for Life. They adopted three objectives: to educate the community on the sanctity of life; initiate a prayer movement in homes, churches and at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic; and to open a pregnancy support center to provide women in the community with life-supportive pregnancy options and support.
The last goal, Cortes knew, would be the greatest gift of all. This became all the more clear when they met Help for women—A Chicago-based pregnancy support organization with four centers and two maternity hospitals located in the Chicago metro area. The two groups quickly partnered up and secured a location right next to the Planned Parenthood facility.
Fundraising and building took place throughout 2018 with several obstacles overcome along the way, thanks to the support of many faith groups, organizations, families and individuals. Operation Nehemiah, a faith-based group that helps disaster relief and rebuilding initiatives for nonprofits, provided much-needed renovations, even during some of the Chicago area’s worst winter days. The Knights of columbus national and local councils have also provided support, including a new ultrasound device as part of their ultrasound initiative program.
Operation Nehemiah volunteers begin their day with prayer as renovations begin at Aid for Women Flossmoor. | Photo Courtesy: Help for Flossmoor Women
“It was just amazing how many people of goodwill really rolled up their sleeves and made this possible,” said Susan Barrett, Executive Director of Aid for Women. “It was just a really, really neat thing to start this way. “
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on February 24, just over a year after the opening of Planned Parenthood. According to Cortes, around 150 people attended the event. The center was filled with traders, businessmen, Democrats, Republicans, and people from different ethnic groups and faiths.
“In a time of growing division, it was heartening to see a wide range of our business, community and religious leaders come together to show their support, all united in affirming the value of life,” Cortes said.
Pro-life Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski and former Illinois State Representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives also attended the opening event.
“When Planned Parenthood came up here (at Flossmoor), we said we were going to be there, to challenge the culture of death with the culture of life every day,” Representative Lipinski said at the opening.
Pro-Life Congressman Dan Lipinski (R) and his wife at the opening of the center | Photo Courtesy: Help for Flossmoor Women
Aid for Women client Rayanna with her daughter (center) alongside Kris Cortes (center right) at the inauguration in February | Photo Courtesy: Help for Flossmoor Women
Ives echoed his thoughts.
“When they opened this family planning, our response was not to lie down,” she said. “Our response was not complacent or lukewarm. Our response has been to create a haven of hope for women. And that’s such a beautiful answer. When women walk through that door, we don’t judge, when women walk through that door, we don’t condemn. When women come here, we give.
For Cortes, the diversity of representation at the event was remarkable to see, especially in what she calls “a liberal stronghold in the southern suburbs of Chicago.”
“Looking around the room, people kept commenting, ‘It just doesn’t happen in America anymore,’ she said. “This is what America is – when we come together around a unified cause, all these different ways that people are trying to lock you in and categorize you, they just go away. “
The abortion capital of the Midwest
This prospect of hope is particularly important in Illinois, where the state governor promised in January to pursue a more aggressive abortion policy than even New York.
According to LifeSiteNews:
Illinois lawmakers are currently considering their own Reproductive Health Act (RHA), which, like similar bills in other states, would codify a “basic right” to abortion, establish “that a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights under the law. And repeal many restrictions and regulations on abortion, including the ban on late abortion. The version of the Senate, which authorized a vote in committee [in March], also repeals the state’s parental notification requirement, the State Journal-Register reported.
Last month, around 4,000 pro-lifers ”filled the State Capitol to capacityTo protest against the legislation. Because as extreme as the abortion bills are, the state has actually been on the abortion path for years, funneling taxpayer funding into abortions through Medicaid and even force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion.
“What we’re seeing is that because of the easy access to abortion in Illinois and free abortion in Illinois, it’s becoming that kind of place where all these clinics have abortions are taking place because it’s good business for them, but it’s not good for us in our local community, ”Barrett said. “That’s why Aid for Women decided to get involved. It wasn’t enough to say how miserable things are. We needed to take a leap of faith and expand our presence in a community targeted by Planned Parenthood. “
Tweet this: “We needed to take a leap of faith and expand our presence in a community targeted by Planned Parenthood.” #anti-abortion
Cortes says the state’s already permissive abortion laws have made Illinois a destination for having abortions. Indeed, the state report on abortion shows there has been a slight increase in abortions performed on out-of-state visitors in recent years. In 2017, nearly 40,000 abortions were recorded in the state of Illinois. Over 5,500 of these were out-of-state residents.
One of the reasons, Cortes said, is the 2017 law that requires Illinois taxpayers to fund abortions through Medicaid. Due to the state’s lenient residency requirements for Medicaid recipients, women can come to Illinois, establish temporary residence, have an abortion, and return home.
“Illinois is like the Google pin on a map because we are becoming like the abortion capital of the Midwest,” Cortes said.
She added that Planned Parenthood’s recent invasion of Flossmoor is directly linked to targeting an audience eligible for Medicaid.
“Planned Parenthood, with its big budget research arm, knew this was where they wanted to grow,” she said, noting that the community is a large minority.
Tweet this: As Illinois becomes the “abortion capital of the Midwest,” this #prolife pregnancy center takes a stand for families in need.
Planned Parenthood, which has historically targeted minority populations, reported $ 1.6 billion in sales last year, with over half a billion coming from taxpayers.
Cortes says the opening of the new Aid for Women center represents a major triumph in “David and Goliath” history between the local pro-life community and Planned Parenthood.
“It’s a beautiful testament to rallying around a unified vision that, you know, we wanted to give women in the community a real choice – a choice of love and tangible support so that they can continue to pursue their goals. dreams and goals and also have the option of choosing a better life for their child and a better life for their family, ”Cortes said.
“A safe haven for women”
According to Barrett, there are dozens of abortion clinics in the Chicago area, and Aid for Women pregnancy support centers are at the forefront of the abortion battle, serving approximately 4,000 women each. year. Since 1978, Aid for Women has provided a safe haven from abortion providers to women facing unintended pregnancies.
All Aid for Women services are offered free of charge and include: 24-hour telephone support, pregnancy and ultrasound tests, one-on-one support, Abortion pill reversal, a Earn by learning program, support groups for future parents, and medical and community referrals.
Barrett said the decision to expand Women’s Assistance services and provide housing for pregnant women and their children was based on the knowledge that many women choose abortion because they lack housing. suitable or will otherwise be homeless if they choose life. Aid for Women opened its first maternity home, Heather’s House, in 2011 and its second home, Monica’s House, in 2015 as a halfway house for new mothers and their children as they move towards independence.
Rayanna is just one of the thousands of women Aid for Women has helped.
“Going to Women’s Aid was the best decision of my life,” she said at the inauguration last month. “They gave me so much. They got me through a very difficult time, they provided my child and me with a home and made me feel like I had hope again. This is why I am where I am today: I am a mother and I did it. Coming from feeling alone in an unexpected pregnancy, doing everything for me, having our own house, having a good job, having a car and doing it on my own.
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“You can see the hand of God in all of this”
With its greatest task accomplished, the Southland Coalition for Life now continues its efforts to spread education and prayer throughout the community, by organizing a 40 days for life prayer campaign outside Flossmoor Planned Parenthood during Lent.
This campaign, along with the new location of Aid for Women, makes the presence of the pro-life community very apparent on Flossmoor.
Both Aid for Women and its neighbor Planned Parenthood have high visibility on the streets.
“It is a blessing that the space next to Planned Parenthood is vacant. We’re both very aware of each other, ”Barrett said.
A Street View of Family Planning and Helping Women Near Each Other | Photo Courtesy: Help for Flossmoor Women
Overall, their welcome at their new location has been quite positive.
“We’ve only been open for a few weeks and have already helped quite a few women there, so we think that kind of street visibility will be very helpful,” Barrett said.
While Barrett anticipates continued growth at the new location, she remains in awe of how everything has turned out in just a year.
“I think for this small group of people to respond so quickly and so effectively… you can see the hand of God in it all,” she said.