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Opposing viewpoints under one roof

Thomas Douglas of Rochester talks to Brenda Savage, executive director, at Birth Choice's open house, Feb. 11. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
February 16, 2011 - A Sashabaw Road abortion clinic has a new neighbor downstairs – the pro-life Birth Choice Pregnancy Resource Center.

"We want to be near the women we want to help," said Brenda Savage, executive director, at a Feb. 11 open house. "This facility is perfect. It has the perfect layout, Lighthouse is next door, and the Salvation Army is across the street."

The resource center is in the lower level of 6310 Sashabaw Road, with entrance at the rear of the building. The Women's Clinic Group is in the upper level, entrance at the front.

The two haven't met yet, said Michelle Ervin, secretary.

"We don't look at the clinic as the enemy," Ervin said. "God loves us all – love the sinner, hate the sin."

"God's blessing on all those people – respect for life includes them," Savage said.

A woman returning a call said the clinic had no comment, but said everyone has their beliefs and the right to live their life the way they believe is right.

Regarding a Feb. 5 incident in which a man yelled at a clinic employee and took a bag of garbage ("Aggressive activism," page 9A), Savage said the man is not part of the center and she doesn't know who he is. Their mission is peaceful and nonconfrontational, she said.

"The main thing is to educate girls, share alternatives available so they can make an educated decision," she said. "We'll show the fetal development with ultrasound so they can see the baby."

Anti-abortion advocates met during a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil last year in front of the Women's Clinic Group and formed a 12-person Board of Directors to develop the idea for a resource center.

"The feeling was if young ladies are here in crisis, we can't turn away – we have to be here to respond," said Michelle Ervin, secretary. "We're here to help those who desire it."

"People were eager to join the board and get involved," said board member Jim Wilson of Royal Oak.

"I'm very impressed with what was accomplished in such a short time," said Diane McMillan, member of the board.

The center includes a Giving Room, set up as a boutique offering hats, blankets, diapers, formula, bottles, and other items for babies newborn to 18 months, two peer counseling rooms, training and meeting rooms, and an ultrasound room – all services offered free.

All items, furniture, and equipment were donated or offered at reduced cost, Ervin said.

"It was amazing, every time we had a need, so many would step up to fill the need," she said.

Many board members and volunteers have personal experience regarding abortion.

"I'd feel horrible if I didn't try to be there when someone needed help," said Kim Disalle, counselor. "My best friend in college needed me – I told her she should do whatever she wanted to do. She needed me to be strong and I wasn't. I won't make the same mistake, I'll be there and be strong."

Ervin was a crisis pregnancy herself – her mother was 19, unmarried, and in college when she was born.

"My mother chose life," she said. "Young ladies in crisis pregnancy may not be able to project 10, 15, 30 years down the line."

The center is set to open in a couple weeks.

The 40 Days prayer vigil returns, March 9-April 17, in front of the clinic on Sashabaw Road. Kick off meeting is Feb. 21, 7 p.m., at Oakland Wood Baptist Church, 5628 Maybee Road.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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