Manassas pregnancy center closes after 28 years

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Just off Sudley Road in Manassas, a stone's throw from the post office, AAA Women for Choice Pregnancy Center closed its doors Dec. 8 after 28 years of service. 

When she was working as an administrative assistant at an adolescent center for drugs and alcohol on the same strip of professional buildings, Pat Lohman could never have foreseen how her life would change. It all began when she was approached by Jeffrey Mirus, who ran Trinity Communications a few doors down from her building. 

Mirus, who co-founded Christendom College in Front Royal, told Lohman an abortion clinic had opened on Forestwood Lane, the same strip where Trinity and the adolescent center were located. Mirus quickly rented vacant space next to Trinity for a pregnancy center. 

At first, Lohman agreed to volunteer a few hours a week, but seeing the need, she soon quit her job to become the full-time director of the pregnancy center in 1989. 

They decided to name the center AAA (Abortion Accurate Accounting) Women for Choice because it put them first in the phone book and utilized the proper meaning of "choice." Their name, however, would not only lead them to be a target of a Congressional hearing, but many future assaults and attacks as well. 

Lohman said that the abortion facility escorts, and at times even hired armed guards, were verbally and physically aggressive toward her and her staff. At one point, a man made his way through the center wielding a knife, she said. This tension led the building's owner to force AAA to move to a space at the beginning of the strip, away from the abortion facility. It was a blessing in disguise. Many women intending to abort, first came into AAA. 

In 1996, AAA was unexpectedly given 90 days to buy the building for $125,000 or leave. Grants and donors came out of the woodwork to save the center. 

In 2001, the abortion doctor moved his practice next door to AAA. Lohman believes it was to regain the clients he was losing. One of these clients, Emily, came into AAA planning to get an abortion. She left choosing to parent her child and has since given 10 years of volunteer service to the center. 

For years after the abortion doctor’s death, his wife kept the abortion practice going until recently deciding to sell. She now has reconciled with the church. Several diocesan benefactors bought the building and converted it into Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic run by Catholic Charities. 

This is not the only happy ending for AAA Women for Choice. After 28 years, the center's board of directors decided to gift their building to Divine Mercy Care, a non-profit organization in Fairfax that advances pro-life medicine. After the sale of the building, the proceeds will be used to create an endowment in Lohman's name to serve women in need through Tepeyac OB/GYN in Fairfax.

Cook is a freelance writer from Manassas.

 

How to help

To contribute to the Pat Lohman Endowment, contact Will Waldron at 703/934-5552. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017