Center for pregnant women offers alternative to abortion

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A day after its 40 year anniversary, 1st Way Pregnancy Support Center announced it would be moving its operations from the pink house on McDowell Road to a more strategic location.

1st Way will be moving into a new building, doubling the space it can use to serve women and men facing difficult pregnancy situations.

Christine Accurso, executive director of 1st Way, made the announcement Oct. 27 during the pregnancy support center’s annual fundraising gala. The new building is two miles away, right next to a bus stop and two blocks away from an abortion clinic that performs more than 30 abortions a day.

“We actually plan on putting them out of business, but it’ll be a good location after that, too,” Accurso said, to applause. 1st Way was able to acquire the property thanks to the generosity of an anonymous supporter who offered them a no interest loan.

Accurso said the center will need volunteer electricians, painters and other trade workers to get the building ready for service. 1st Way also needs to sell the old property.

The new building will provide the pregnancy outreach with much needed space for a growing client base and expanding programs, including one for men. The new building, at 4,150 square feet, will more than double the space of the previous building.

“Realizing that men are part of the equation, we’re starting to incorporate them in the process,” said Dr. Jim Asher, director of the men’s program at 1st Way. “We need to work with the man who thinks he wants an abortion and we need to work with the man who wants life — work with him and the woman.”

1st Way helps couples choose life by offering classes on parenting, on being a good spouse. They work closely with other pregnancy centers like Life Choices Women’s Clinic, Aid to Women Center in Tempe and Maggie’s Place.

The state of Arizona requires women considering an abortion to receive an ultrasound, according to Asher. Many abortion clinics charge up to $160 for the ultrasound, but 1st Way offers it for free.

Around 95 percent of abortion-minded women who see their baby in an ultrasound and receive counseling and support decide against having an abortion, Asher said.

“Women come in for a free pregnancy test and ultrasound and — with counseling — they usually change their minds,” he said.

Last year, 1st Way helped more than 2,300 clients — 1,349 of them were new. Since May, they’ve seen nearly 800 clients from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds.

“Even though the abortion rate is unthinkable, we’ve made an impact. We’ve saved lives,” said Patti Marmol, daughter of a 1st Way founder Maria Campion, speaking at the Oct. 27 gala. “So much of the work has been done by volunteers.”

Melanie Pritchard, executive director of the Foundation for Life and Love, said that 1st Way tells pregnant mothers “the truth about the life growing inside of them.”

“Planned Parenthood doesn’t plan parenthood, they end parenthood,” she said. “Women deserve to have 1st Way.”

Fr. John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, also spoke during the gala.

“Through Jesus, we see that the work of 1st Way isn’t just about saving babies’ lives, but about saving souls,” he said. “Not just babies’ souls, but mothers’ souls and the souls of 1st Way supporters.”

1st Way needs support to continue.

“They’re on the front lines in the real, material world and they need real, material help,” he said. “We need to let our faith in Jesus Christ flower in every way possible.”

For more information, please email christine@1stway.net.

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