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New signage, chapel updates
bring good news for Mary’s Choice

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

Location, location, location.

Those in the real estate business can attest to the importance of location when purchasing property.

Location was a huge factor for Mary’s Choice, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Sioux City as it is next to Planned Parenthood, because it could be seen by those entering the facility.

According to Sherill Glassmaker, director of Mary’s Choice, when Planned Parenthood erected a tall wooden wall, visibility of the pro-life center was impacted.

“We had a sign on the side of our building and people would pull into Planned Parenthood. A lot of times people would call from the parking lot and they would hop over the wall,” she explained. A shorter concrete wall had originally separated the two centers.

Glassmaker said the wooden wall went up not long after Catholic radio KFHC 88.1 FM started broadcasting a pro-life program from Mary’s Choice.

Discussion ensued about what could be done to increase signage at Mary’s Choice but Glassmaker said it was put on the back burner because they had more pressing expenses.

“Then one of the local businessmen contacted me in December of 2013 and on his own, he had ideas and plans made up,” she said. “This had tugged at his heart. Every time he drove by and saw the wall, he felt he had to do something. He felt the Holy Spirit was calling him to spearhead the possibility of putting up a big sign.”

Thanks to that volunteer who did much of the legwork, an electronic sign that emerges above the wall of Planned Parenthood went up at Mary’s Choice in July.

“The sign is as big as it can be because the size is based on how much frontage you have and it is as far to the street as it can get,” said Glassmaker, who said the sign was paid for partially through fund-raising and partially out of the center’s budget. “If they go higher with the fence, the sign is designed that it can go higher. It’s on a telescopic pole.”

Until the sign was in place, she acknowledged, she had no idea how beneficial a sign like that would be.
A simple software computer program allows Mary’s Choice to put various messages and images on the sign.

“The visibility is huge,” Glassmaker said, “especially if they are going in on abortion day and they see a sign that says, ‘Choose life’ or ‘Pregnant? We can help.’”

While the main purpose of the sign is to let people know the pro-life center is there to help, it can also promote upcoming events.

Chapel updates

A tabernacle was recently added to the chapel at Mary’s Choice. It had previously been at home in the Carmelite Monastery in Sioux City. The organization has also been offered the use of monstrances from parishes in the diocese.

“The plan is that we would love to have Mass on the days of abortions and then have adoration at least until mid-afternoon,” said Glassmaker, who said several deacons are lined up for benediction. “For Mass, there is a list of at least a dozen priests from the tri-state area who have all been approved by Bishop Walker Nickless who are willing to say Mass once or twice a year.”

The director said Bishop Nickless has said, “Where the Blessed Sacrament is present, miracles occur.”
“We are hoping for miracles to occur here in Sioux City with the abortion industry,” she said.

Tentatively, a blessing and dedication by Bishop Nickless is planned for 11 a.m. on Sept. 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Other good news

A Polk County District Court judge ruled in favor of the Iowa Board of Medicine’s ban on webcam abortions. The ban is slated to take place 30 days after the Aug. 19 ruling.

Glassmaker praised the decision.

“You want the all or none, but in the meantime it will give women more time to think and educate themselves,” she said. “We think we can take care of everything with a pill but in reality, I’ve heard terrible horror stories about women who have experienced abortion through this procedure.”

With webcam abortions, a doctor discusses the procedure with the patient through closed-circuit video. If the doctor agrees it is appropriate for the woman to abort her child, the doctor enters a computer code that opens a drawer with abortifacient drugs. The woman takes the first pill while the doctor watches via video and then takes additional pills at home, aborting the child at home.

“Each little victory brings more awareness,” said Glassmaker. “While this isn’t a complete victory for the end to abortion, it gives us hope.”

Mary’s Choice, which opened about three years ago, continues to be run by all volunteers.

Along with providing free pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds and various other resources, Mary’s Choice offers clothing for persons of all ages.

“A lot of times people aren’t necessarily coming in for the things they receive, but it is a reassurance of their own humanity and support,” Glassmaker said. “All volunteers treat everyone with dignity and respect no matter their circumstances.”

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