Pro-life health center in Peoria will address women’s physical, spiritual needs
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was updated to reflect a change in name in the spring of 2022.
In a building next to Planned Parenthood in Peoria, work is underway to offer women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy or have other female health-related concerns a better destiny.
The Destiny for Women Health Center (later renamed Gianna Women’s Clinic) will do so by going beyond treating the women’s physical and emotional health needs. The staff will also share the love of Jesus and educate on their clients’ true dignity.
By doing so, the new clinic — located at 2805 N. Knoxville Ave. and set to open in late August — hopes to close what founder and director Kate Smart sees as a “gap of love” in some elements of the pro-life movement.
“We’re very much focused on saving babies,” she told The Catholic Post of the movement in general, “but we need to focus equally, if not more, on saving the soul of the mother.”
Citing recent studies that show Peoria ranks near the top of all U.S. cities in sexually transmitted diseases — and leads the nation in gonorrhea rates — Smart said young people are looking for love in the wrong places and buying into the lies of today’s culture about sex.
“We will tell people the truth,” she promised, including sharing aspects of the Theology of the Body teachings of St. John Paul II and offering to pray with clients.
“Every person on our staff will know and love the Lord,” said Smart, a member of St. Jude Parish in Peoria who has been active in pro-life matters for decades. She and her husband Steve are the parents of eight children, four of them adopted, and have opened their home to homeless, pregnant women. “Every person will desire to help the women see their true dignity,” she continued, “that they are created in the image and likeness of God.”
BUILDING MEDICAL, SPIRITUAL BONDS
The center will offer pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, parenting and finance classes, ultrasounds, and material aid such as diapers and clothing. It will not prescribe contraception.
Smart said Destiny for Women (Gianna Women’s Clinic) will offer the abortion pill reversal. And the hope is the facility will soon grow to become a total maternity care center, so the relationship between client and staff can deepen.
The initial staff will include a nurse practitioner/midwife, a psychologist, a nurse, receptionist, and material aid coordinator. A physician medical director may soon come on board. In addition, “several strong Christian women” will serve as advocates for the women in need. Overseeing the operation is a board of directors formed a year ago.
“The world speaks of hopelessness and despair, with abortion being the only way out of the predicament,” Smart said at a luncheon fundraiser that drew 130 people to the Spalding Pastoral Center last month. “We will offer true hope, which does not disappoint.”
The proposed center has received its own doses of hope in recent months “through the prayers of many.” In January, for example, the owner of the building next to Planned Parenthood rejected their lease-to-buy offer. Two months later, he accepted it and now embraces the center’s mission. Volunteers are now busily readying the facility — site of former medical practices, the most recent being gastroenterology — for its new purpose.
Kate Smart invites calls at (309) 696-2677 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“Honestly, the building is almost perfect the way it is,” said Smart. “It has exam rooms, and offices where counseling can occur.” The location next to Planned Parenthood is also perfect, she added, offering opportunities to talk to women considering abortion.
Medical equipment is being supplied to the center free of charge by Mission Outreach of Springfield.
But the center will have ongoing needs. Donations of new and gently used baby items through 4T are welcome for the material assistance room. There is also a site on Facebook.
Smart invites calls at (309) 696-2677 and email at email@example.com for more information.