The University of Central Florida, located in Orlando, is the largest university in the United States, with more than 69,000 students enrolled on campus.

For years, Planned Parenthood has operated an abortion clinic near the campus, but it is about to get some major competition.

Choices Women’s Clinic, an Orlando crisis pregnancy center, will soon open a major facility a mile from the UCF campus and about a mile and a half from the Planned Parenthood abortion center.

It’s a choice location, you might say.  “About 45,000 cars drive by each day,” said Vicky Botsford Mathews, executive director of Choices, which has operated in Orlando since 1983.  Orlando currently has four abortion clinics after two closures in 2018.  Three of the four clinics provide late-term abortions.  In 2017, Choices deliberately relocated its first clinic near three of them.

One of the most successful crisis pregnancy clinics in the U.S. reaching abortion-determined women, Choices launched a new initiative in 2019 to open the second clinic near UCF.  A total of $800,000 was needed for the property. Vicky, who had already raised $300,000 over the previous year, set an “audacious” goal of raising half of the remaining $500,000 within 100 days.  “We actually raised that in 50 days,” she said, adding that they have now reached a total of $800,000.

It wasn’t easy finding a location, with several landlords flatly refusing to rent to the clinic.  “It was eye-opening,” Vicky said. “We were turned down because of who we are, what we do and what we stand for,” she said. “One property owner, in particular, was very hostile, saying, ‘I won’t rent to a religious organization.’  It’s totally illegal.  One other one said, “It’s so controversial, we don’t want that.”

They identified an old Italian restaurant for sale and are on track to make the purchase by year-end, demolish the restaurant and build a 4,000-square-foot clinic in 2020. The just-launched $1 million Phase 2 initiative “is not an obstacle,” Vicky said, “when you have seen the hand of God move powerfully over the last few years.  Five years ago, we were a $250,000 ministry.”

An “Unplanned” Success

A key point in the Choices fundraising campaign came when Timothy Plan founder Art Ally and his wife Bonnie bought out a theater in March 2019 and hosted a showing of the hit film “Unplanned.”  The movie, which made $19 million in limited release, is about former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who had been involved in more than 22,000 abortions before experiencing a change of heart while witnessing an abortion via ultrasound.  As depicted in the film, a baby fights unsuccessfully to get away from the abortionist’s killing instruments.   Abby Johnson is now an articulate and much-sought-after speaker at pro-life events. z

The movie’s powerful message has given a boost to the pro-life movement, as people have become more generous and more actively involved, Vicky said.  “A lot of people were intellectually and theologically pro-life, but the film was very effective in showing how deceptive the [abortion] industry is,” she said. “Nationally, a lot of the pregnancy centers have reported more donations and have had bigger fundraising events and more volunteers.”

After the Orlando showing, for example, “a couple of women came forward who had been quiet about the issue, and now want to do something,” she said.

As for Art and Bonnie, who, along with Timothy Partners, Ltd. have contributed steadily over the years to Choices, “we could not do what we do without them,” Vicky said. “Not only their generosity but the fact that they are a powerful voice. They really believe it and they really stand for it. 

When you’re on the front lines dealing with life and death, it’s great having Art and Bonnie and their children and business all behind us every step of the way.  We don’t take this for granted.”

A Year in the Life

This year, Choices has performed 1,400 pregnancy tests, 1,070 ultrasounds, and 600 sexually transmitted infection tests.  Of the women who tested positive, Vicky said, 76 percent “chose life,” with an estimated 763 babies saved.

It’s even more remarkable when you consider that nearly 60 percent of the clients came in seeking an abortion, she said. “Many think we are an abortion clinic.”

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