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Alexandria abortion clinic moves across the street

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Since 1977, Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic has been a fixture at Landmark Towers, a residential and commercial building on South Whiting Street. Though the number of abortions performed there during the clinic’s early years are unavailable, conservatively, the clinic has performed tens of thousands of abortions. 

“We do not yet know how many babies have been killed there or how many moms go by that building and remember their lost children every day,” said Larry Cirignano, a parishioner of Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria who frequently prays outside the clinic.

Within a week or two, the clinic will move across the street to 5999 Stevenson Ave. Though Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic declined to comment, building manager Mark Stofko believes the new office offers more space for the clinic to expand counseling services. Other tenants of 5999 Stevenson include DaVita Dialysis, a driving school, a law office and other medical offices.

Pro-lifers such as Geneva and Jim Park, parishioners of St. Louis Church in Alexandria, sent emails to all the building’s tenants, asking them to voice their concern about the clinic. Geneva wrote, “We believe that abortion is not a solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Rather, abortion further compounds the problem, causing the woman to be gravely hurt, physically and emotionally, and a child to die. We believe that every human life has inestimable value and dignity, and that abortion deeply offends that value and dignity.

“In addition, we wanted to let you know that if the Alexandria Women's Health Clinic moves into 5999 Stevenson Ave., we will be present out front, peacefully praying, holding our signs and providing pregnancy-related information and resources to those who are interested.”

So far, however, the businesses seem to accept their new neighbors. “Some tenants have expressed concerns — they’re not big fans of the protesters out front,” said Stofko. “(But) nobody has left because of it.”

According to the Virginian Department of Health, in recent years the clinic performed around 2,300 surgical abortions per year, but the number fell to 1,338 abortions in 2018. Though Cirignano is hopeful fewer abortions are happening overall, the drop might be due to the rise in popularity of the abortion pill, which is not recorded as surgical abortions are. 

In some ways, the move will be advantageous for pro-lifers, said Cirignano. From the sidewalk outside Landmark Towers, it was difficult to talk to women who may have been entering the clinic. “(The new building) has great sidewalk space and we’ll be able to counsel and see everybody that goes into the building,” he said. “It’s not just that we’re against abortion — we’re for babies, we have the services and we’re here to help.”

Still, they really wanted the clinic to shut down. “We’re hoping to close it,” said Park. She believes people peacefully praying outside a clinic is a critical component of them closing. Several local abortion clinics with an active pro-life presence outside have closed in recent years, including one in Manassas and one in Fairfax. “If everyone could go for one hour, can you imagine what a statement that would make?” Park asked.

Patrick and Mary Moran, parishioners of Queen of Apostles, have prayed outside the clinic for 25 years. Patrick has been discouraged by the pro-choice turn Virginia politics has taken but buoyed by the sight of young people involved in the pro-life movement. “You’ve got to pray a lot, my dear, and that's why Mary and I are still out there,” he said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019