One summer day in 2010, Shannon Wygant received a shock. His wife told him that the abortion clinic in Waterford where he traveled to for peaceful prayer, had suddenly moved to his own town of Clarkston.
“Clarkston is a very prolife community and it sent shock waves down the pike when people found out,” Shannon said.
Shannon and his community rallied together to deliver a surprise of their own by renting office space on the floor below the abortion clinic to open a prolife pregnancy resource center. Birth Choice Pregnancy Resource Center held their first open house on February 11 and they’ve turned the unpleasant surprise into a golden opportunity to reach women closer than they ever could.
“Our goal is to offer women who come here true choice,” Shannon said. “That word ‘choice’ has been stolen.”
Birth Choice started when Shannon organized a meeting of community members to discuss a response to the abortionist moving into town. Shannon said the small informational gathering turned into a large meeting with more than 60 people. Their first idea was to begin praying and divide into groups to come up with ways they could help.
Shannon said opening a pregnancy center was not their original focus, but the idea started becoming a reality as they realized just how prolife their community was. Shannon, a former board member for Lakes Area Right to Life, said many other people helped to raised awareness and stepped forward to get involved. After holding a 40 Days for Life campaign at the clinic, they had enough community support to move forward with creating Birth Choice.
The 40 Days for Life campaign was the most important thing in bringing attention to the situation according to Shannon.
They put together a 12-person board of directors to lead the efforts. Michelle Ervin was one of those 12 and is now on staff at the center as a secretary. For Michelle, helping women facing untimely pregnancies is a issue very close to her heart.
“I was a ‘crisis pregnancy’ myself,” she said. “When people talk about a crisis pregnancy, I say ‘oh, that’s me they’re talking about.'”
The board looked for a location as close as possible to the clinic and found the office available below the abortion clinic. After negotiations with the landlord and a generous donation for the lease, they moved into the building. The building currently houses just the clinic, Birth Choice and a dental office.
Birth Choice offers free pregnancy tests and counseling, and they are planning to expand services to include free ultrasounds, material assistance and other programs. Michelle said there are still many needs, but she is confident the community will continue to persevere.
“That’s the nice thing about a diverse board with different experiences, talents and beliefs,” she said. “Every hurdle we’ve come up against we have overcome.”
Brenda Savage, vice president of Central Oakland Right to Life, was another person with diverse talents that became involved. Brenda’s background is in health care management and she was hired as Birth Choice’s executive director after becoming an active prolife volunteer in the wake of the new Planned Parenthood clinic opening in nearby Auburn Hills.
Networking with local individuals and groups has proven to be a great strength to their efforts and she said it’s very important for any group wanting to open or help a prolife pregnancy center to find the people and resources already available in their communities.
“For us, the first thing we do is pray,” she said. “Then the next thing is we work together.”
Brenda said prayer for the center is very much needed, but the community is already providing tangible signs that they will continue to work together to make Birth Choice a success. She said they had almost 300 people attend their open house in February.
The abortion business which relocated in Clarkston has mobilized a community to respond to women and families facing unplanned pregnancies. For details and contact information about prolife pregnancy centers in your local area, click here.