A Columbus-based pregnancy care and counseling center has recently announced it wants to open a sixth branch office in Pickerington.
Pregnancy Decision Health Centers was founded in 1978 to help expectant mothers receive pregnancy care and crisis counseling and to reduce abortions.
Current Centers President Tim Welsh said the decision to open a "caring center" in Pickerington was, in part, a response to the expected opening of a medical clinic to be run by Dr. Mervyn Samuel at 670 Hill Road North in Pickerington.
Samuel operates an office in Columbus called "Complete Healthcare for Women," which performs abortions.
Many Pickerington-area residents have expressed vehement opposition to the Samuel's new Pickerington office, despite assurances from both the clinic and city officials that abortions won't be performed there.
Welsh said there were other factors in play as well in the decision to locate in Pickerington.
Welsh said abortion numbers in the Pickerington/Reynoldsburg area "are really high."
"The fact that Dr. Samuel just moved in there is incentive, but the abortion numbers in that area are high to begin with," Welsh said.
He said his organization hopes to raise $250,000 in order to get its Pickerington office up and running, although that amount is not set in stone.
"It's somewhat fluid," Welsh said. "It depends on whether we buy a piece of property or rent."
He said other costs associated with the venture will be a salary for a staff nurse and the purchase of an ultrasound and supplies.
The other five PDHC locations include two on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus, one on E. 17th Avenue near the Ohio State campus, a Columbus west side office and one in Lancaster at 1590 E. Main St.
Welsh said he doesn't anticipate there will be a duplication of services between the proposed Pickerington caring center and the one in Lancaster.
"I think (the Pickerington center) would generate more traffic from the Reynoldsburg and Pataskala areas and northern Fairfield County, (as well as) Canal Winchester," Welsh said.
"Most of our clients come from the geographic areas where (the caring centers) are located."
Welsh said in 2012 the PDHC's centers "saw 4,600 women and we saved 475 children from abortion."
He said the non-profit organization offers all of its services for free, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and maternity clothes.
Welsh said the centers have many partnerships with community resources that its clients are connected with. "We know how to plug these women into those resources," he said.
Welsh said a major fundraiser for the proposed center has been scheduled for the evening of April 18 at Seton Parish Catholic Church. He said the details of the event have not yet been solidified.
Welsh said those interested in learning more about the Pregnancy Decision Health Centers fundraiser can call its business office at 614-888-8774.