Activism

Illinois pregnancy center set ablaze by arsonist, but knows ‘good will come’

In the early morning hours of May 3, the Women’s Care Center of Peoria, Illinois, part of a national chain of pregnancy care centers based out of South Bend, Indiana, was targeted by an arsonist who set fire to the locked building.

The center is located directly next door to what served for years as Peoria’s only surgical abortion facility until its closure in 2019. The Women’s Care Center provides free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds to over 500 women in the local community each year, with 13 women served per day, 1,000 ultrasounds performed annually, and 596 babies saved in the last year, according to the center’s website.

According to a local news channel, the local fire department responded to the fire around 2:40 am on Monday. “When crews arrived on scene, they found heavy fire coming from the windows in front of the building. Crews then advanced their lines and extinguished the blaze. The scene was under control by 3 a.m.” While the fire was contained largely to one main room, heat and smoke damage throughout the building rendered the property a total loss, estimated at $250,000.

READ: The irony behind the newest pro-abortion hashtag about pregnancy centers

The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, spoke to Christine Dennis, the center’s founder, as well as current director of client care Connie McClure. McClure commented, “Our doors are open. We just don’t have any doors.”

McClure told the Post that counselors were already on the phone Monday morning speaking to some of the center’s 500 current clients expecting babies in the coming days and months, promising that their care would continue. “It may look a little different, but we’ve made a promise we will be there to support them.” The center’s corporate office in Indiana sent a mobile unit to care for women on site in the burned center’s parking lot.

Asked about next steps for the center, Dennis responded, “The community that brought us here is embracing us and will bring us to the next best location, and hopefully we can love and serve even more clients wherever we land for good… I just know that good will come and there’s great hope and faith in the process of rebuilding. The beauty is seeing people step up in so many ways when things like this come. We take care of our women number one, and when we take care of them, everything else falls into place.”

Pregnancy resource centers offer many services which may include pregnancy testing, STD testing, ultrasounds, parenting classes, baby gear, pregnancy-related items, employment assistance, maternity housing and referrals, and much more, all free of charge. Despite this, the abortion industry has baselessly and repeatedly claimed the centers are deceptive and harmful to women.

Both McClure and Dennis requested prayers for the staff and clients of the Women’s Care Center. Those interested in financially supporting the rebuilding effort as well as the provision of material assistance to current clients in the meantime can contribute here.

Per protocol, the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal, local Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT). CI Proud reported that Peoria Fire Chief Tony Ardis alluded to the fact that “facilities like Women’s Care Center can often be targeted for arson fires.”

Editor’s Note, 5/10/21: To donate to the Women’s Care Center, visit https://supportwomenscarecenter.org/donate/. Find the “Pick your Location” button and choose Illinois for the state and Peoria for the city. All gifts selected for this location will go directly to WCC in Peoria. You may also contact Christine Dennis at 309-370-4662 or [email protected]. Items may also be mailed to:

Women’s Care Center
7319 North University
Peoria, Illinois 61614

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