Real Choices for Women and Children shares space with
several pro-life organizations

By Linda Wegner
The Interim

It took three years of planning, two years of fundraising, the cooperation of several organizations and many hours of training and preparation, but on November 6, 2000, a site housing the Campaign Life Coalition office, the Canadian Survivors of Abortion office and the Saskatoon Crisis Pregnancy Centre opened its doors to the public.

According to CPC director Lynne Fagee, the Centre is another phase of a ministry that has operated in the city for a number of years.

“The pregnancy crisis line had operated for about fifteen years,” Fagee said. “However, it wasn’t well known that we held a pro-life view and that we were a Christian ministry. I was hired to let people and churches know.”

Fagee explained that Real Choices for Women and Families continues to work closely with Saskatoon Pro-Life, but three years ago a steering committee was formed to facilitate the operation of a pregnancy crisis centre that would provide an actual location for people to visit. In the future, the centre will assume more and more of Saskatoon Pro-Life’s responsibilities.

“Saskatoon Pro-Life is a locally-funded, small organization,” Fagee said. “Under the umbrella of CAPSS (Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services), we have a much stronger potential support network than they did and I think they’ve recognized that.”

So, while the recent opening of the centre marks change in one ministry and the emergence of another, the commitment of Saskatoon’s pro-life advocates remains firm. The nearly 40 volunteers either currently training or manning the phone lines and centre come from a variety of backgrounds, interests and churches, but all bring with them a heart for service.

“A lot of the same people who worked for Saskatoon Pro-Life have joined on with our ministry,” she said.

Fagee acknowledges that finding the money to operate a centre is a big challenge; helping people both understand the ministry and feel comfortable with it is an even greater hurdle, she states.

“Churches won’t really support you or advertise if they don’t know where you are coming from,” she said. “Once they see that we are doing something positive – that we’re not coercing or fanatical – then I think they will take the next step. That’s my biggest challenge – to educate. There are many people who are pro-life and then there are many who are quietly pro-life because they’re scared to be radicals. We’re not radicals – we’re just a caring group of individuals working together. Generally if I am able to meet with the pastor or priest I have a good reception.”

Working together is becoming a reality in Saskatoon: a breakfast, attended by more than 70 members of the city’s clergy, heard Fagee’s presentation; Heart of the City Ministries, a group of ten agencies reaching out to the inner city’s disenfranchised and fringe population, meets regularly to “complement rather than compete”; and local churches are responding to the need for prayer and financial support for volunteer and parachurch ministries.

Fagee is quick to point out evidence of that support in the newly renovated quarters occupied by the centre.

“Where you see open spaces, “she said, “there used to be walls. Many volunteers put in many hours.”

Along with the donation of time and skills, an attractive reception area, lounge, children’s playroom and several private areas have been fully furnished with furniture, carpets, artwork and computer equipment. Toys and new gift layettes, as well as used baby clothes and furniture, continue to arrive.

“That’s our Resource Vault,” Fagee says with a grin. “This used to be the basement under a bank.”

The vault is also well stocked with information packs that are either given out or mailed to clients requesting it. Free pregnancy testing is also available at the centre or clients can choose to take the tests home.

According to Fagee, her next greatest challenge is to find staff and resources to meet the growing needs of the centre.

“We staff our centre five afternoons and two mornings each week,” she said. “We also staff our phone line 24 hours a day. Then there is the challenge of keeping our volunteers well-informed about issues such as new abortion methods, the “morning-after pill” and just general information.”

“I know that we will need more resources soon,” she went on. “Those who find themselves at a crisis pregnancy centre aren’t just facing a pregnancy crisis…. That isn’t their only issue and crisis.”

To make donations, to inquire about volunteering or for further information about the Saskatoon Crisis Pregnancy Centre, contact Lynne Fagee at (306) 249-2896.