The Shepp Report

Special Edition

"Buildings With Baggage." - World Magazine

January 8, 2020


"Groups are turning old abortion centers into pro-life spaces, but the facilities’ horrific histories are difficult for many to overcome." - WorldMagazine


Following article by Leah Hickman, January 2, 2020, World Magazine.


"Austin and Bryan, Texas. Chattanooga, Tenn. Elkton, Md. Grand Rapids, Mich. Toledo, Ohio. Wichita, Kan. These are seven of the at least 20 cities where pro-life groups have taken over and repurposed former surgical abortion facilities.

They are now crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life offices, or memorials. 

The old Planned Parenthood building in Bryan is now headquarters for 40 Days for Life. The Choices Chattanooga pregnancy center occupies part of a building that used to belong to an abortion business. The Greater Toledo House of Prayer is constructing a memorial park on the former site of an abortion facility.

The list goes on.  One building has flipped repeatedly:

A Grand Rapids synagogue became a Greek Orthodox church that became a college performing arts center that became a legal office building that in 1994 became an abortion facility. During the following 10 years, 20,000 unborn babies died there. It is now an office building for LIFE International, a hub for global pro-life training and resources. 

In eight other cities, pro-life clinics and activist groups have moved into former Planned Parenthood buildings where women obtained abortion pills or received referrals for surgical abortions. Two are in the small Iowa towns of Creston and Dubuque. The others are scattered from Washington state to Michigan.

It’s A Nationwide Trend:

When old abortion facilities close down, pro-life groups move in. For some organizations, taking over the buildings where thousands of children died is a part of their strategic attack on abortion providers. To others, replacing an abortionist is just a bonus to other location benefits. 

All these groups have faced obstacles in the process. They acquired creepy and filthy buildings and the bad memories that come with them.

The biggest questions for these pro-life groups: Does preserving these places hurt post-abortive mothers and repentant abortionists—or help them heal?

When 40 Days for Life CEO Shawn Carney first walked into the former Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, it was the first time he had ever entered a structure previously used for abortions:

'It was a very sterile building. … It was creepy.' The creepiest part was the baby mobiles he saw hanging from the ceilings in the two rooms where an estimated 6,400 abortions took place.

Others I talked with described their buildings with similar words: sterile, clinical, cold. To counteract this sterility, staffers redecorated with their clients in mind. Andy Schoonover, executive director of Austin LifeCare (recently rebranded as The Source), tells how decorators replaced a 'medical-grade tile' with a warm faux-wood flooring. They painted the walls light blue and brought in couches, patterned pillows, bohemian rugs, and succulents. 

Others needed more than redecoration.

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue recalls his first impression of the old Central Women’s Services building in Wichita: dusty, moldy, 'stinks to high heaven.' The building had old carpet and stained walls. The recovery room featured 1970s recliners. This, he said, was where hundreds of women sat bleeding after their abortions: 'You wouldn’t let your dog sit in these things.'

Newman described the sink between the two procedure rooms and its 'super powerful' industrial strength garbage disposal.

He said the abortionists used that disposal to get rid of babies’ remains. According to Newman, a plumber said the drain was clogged for about 10 feet with 'biomatter'—which Newman said was the 'old, rotting, decomposing flesh' of aborted babies. Workers replaced the old plumbing along with the drywall and windows.

Newman also said Central Women’s Services had left behind medical records and not disconnected its phones, so Operation Rescue staff took calls from the former abortion center’s patients. Leslee Unruh, founder of the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Hannah Shady of LifeCare Clinic in Creston, Iowa, also mentioned finding patient files in the former Planned Parenthood buildings they acquired. 

Denise Emerine is the founder of the Greater Toledo House of Prayer, which in 2014 bought a former abortion facility in Toledo with plans to demolish it and build a memorial park for the unborn on the site. On her first day in the building, Emerine saw a hospital gown on the floor, dried blood in the examining rooms, and a basement closet full of abortion vacuum equipment: 'It was like a slaughterhouse. … It wasn’t like walking into a doctor’s office with everything crisp and clean.'

Two months after the demolition, the Greater Toledo House of Prayer hosted a three-hour worship service on the land and invited other pro-life groups to join. Other pro-life organizations have held prayer services at their new sites, and staff members in Sioux Falls, Bryan, Wichita, and Creston had Catholic priests perform exorcisms on their buildings. 

On April 13, 2019, Austin LifeCare hosted 75 people with Sharpie markers at the two sand-colored buildings that had been the home of Whole Woman’s Health.

LifeCare volunteers, donors, sidewalk counselors, and churchgoers prayed as they walked through each of the rooms and wrote messages and Scripture on the walls. Many cried. Many sang.

In what had been the 'product of conception room'—where abortion staffers made sure they had removed from wombs all the pieces of aborted babies—the 75 Sharpie wielders covered walls with names to represent the thousands of unnamed babies who had died there. Later, redecorators needed two coats of paint to conceal the names.

Sharpies were also the tool of choice at a 2014 prayer event at the former Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. Catholic priests and Baptist preachers, former abortion providers and local pro-life activists all wrote verses on the walls.

Some wrote about their miscarriages or their own abortions. In Wichita in 2007, pro-life construction workers posted Bible verses on walls and studs. 

But some women, and sometimes the men involved, find it difficult to return to the scene of their abortions. Alpha Center in Sioux Falls moved into a former Planned Parenthood in 2000 but sold the building in 2008, partly because the pregnancy center had grown but also because the building had a bad effect on women who came back for post-abortive recovery.

Founder Leslee Unruh said the building, despite symbolizing redemption, wasn’t worth the extra heartache: She wishes her organization had torn it down and built a park or memorial instead.

Patti Giebink was one of the physicians who performed abortions in Sioux Falls when the building was a Planned Parenthood center. She later became a Christian and is now on the Alpha Center’s board of directors. She faced her own difficulties with the building as a post-abortive doctor. The first time Giebink stepped into the building after it became the Alpha Center, almost a decade had passed since she had last been in the building.

The old carpet was gone and the building was cleaner, but the sink in the lab room was the same. There, at that sink, she used to examine the tissue of the aborted babies.

There, only two times, she had seen that a piece of the baby was missing and had returned to the mother to take out the rest.

Walking to that sink, said Giebink, 'was overwhelming, and I think I made a pretty quick exit.' She said she hardly spent two minutes in the building.

Pat VanderKolk works at LIFE International in Grand Rapids, headquartered in a former abortion facility. Her abortion didn’t happen in this building but in a facility two minutes down the street—and that business is still open. She said post-abortive women do not want to work in a place where abortions occurred.


'It was like a slaughterhouse. … It wasn’t like walking into a doctor’s office with everything crisp and clean.'

The executive directors of pregnancy centers in Chattanooga and Creston are also concerned that their buildings’ former connection to abortion could deter local women from seeking healing.

More than two decades have gone by since Choices Chattanooga moved into one half of the former abortion facility, but executive director Carol Ann Ferguson said most women in their post-abortion therapy program had abortions 20 to 50 years ago. For them, it’s traumatic to return to the place of their loss: That’s one reason Choices is planning to relocate this summer.

Hard Bargains

Some pro-life organizations have faced little conflict when buying or renting a building previously used for abortions—because the abortion business had already moved or closed. In Creston, Iowa, Planned Parenthood had left a building several months before LifeCare board members began to consider buying it. Leaders negotiated with a landlord unaffiliated with either side of the abortion debate, according to executive director Hannah Shady. 

Troy Newman, executive director of Operation Rescue, tells how he used a third party to make an offer on the building in Wichita, Kan., that housed abortion provider Central Women’s Services. He used the third party because he thought the current landlord would try to sell to another pro-abortion landlord.

When Newman closed on the building and Central Women’s Services asked to renew the lease, Newman evicted it and made the building Operation Rescue headquarters. Central Women’s Services accused Newman of being deceptive by using a third party, but Newman said, 'I don’t believe the enemies of God are deserving of the truth.'

Most other pro-life groups that used third party buyers did not echo this aggressive language or adopt Newman’s strategic approach. When a Planned Parenthood center in Bryan, Texas, closed in 2013, the Hope Pregnancy Center of Brazos Valley partnered with 40 Days for Life and made an offer on the building.

Hope board member Catherine McIntyre said board members foresaw pushback and contemplated using a third party for the negotiations but decided against it and made an offer as Hope. Planned Parenthood initially said no, but after the building sat empty for a year and Hope put in another offer, Planned Parenthood accepted. 40 Days for Life CEO Shawn Carney said the abortion giant ended up selling for 40 percent of the original asking price."

Note: Scroll to the bottom of the article to see a list of flipped buildings nationwide.


Above article by Leah Hickman, January 2, 2020, World Magazine.


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San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III, Co-founder Of The Good Samaritan Family Resource Center That Houses A Planned Parenthood Of Northern California Facility In Its Complex, Presided Over The Case Of Pro-Life Hero Sandra Merritt In A Way That Pre-Determined The Outcome, Tied The Hands Of The Jury And Forced The Jury To Render A Verdict FOR Planned Parenthood. - LibertyCounsel







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