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At the Rural Center: What's In A Name?

April 2007
By: Dinah Monahan
Women's Choice Pregnancy Clinic. "What a perfect name!" we exclaimed, as the first board members formed the ministry ten years ago. The word "choice" was what we were most excited about. We reasoned that the young woman seeking an abortion would see that word and come to us. It was a great name—if we had lived in the city! That is what I would name a center in a college town or one in an urban area in competition with abortion clinics, but not in a rural community that is a bastion of conservative rednecks and cowboys.

For ten years, we have been explaining the word "choice" to would-be supporters. "We offer the life choice," we say. "We offer real choices like parenting and adoption. We are taking the word 'choice' back." This is all very true but doesn't seem to convince them. I shudder to think how much money we have lost in donations over this time!

And, did more women come to us because of the name? I don't think so. We are two and a half hours from the nearest abortion clinic. With no competition and a half page ad in the phone book, our name is not the issue—our services are. (It is worth noting that our local yellow pages representative was very pro-life, and we get that half page for the cost of a one-line listing!) With our demographics, we don't see a great number of abortion-minded clients anyway. Most of our 400+ visits a month are for Earn While You Learn or other services.

For the past ten years we have heard people comment that we "really need to change our name." However, the motivation to actually do it came from an encounter at our local Women's Club. Our board president was at a table of women and, as she always does, she brought Women's Choice Pregnancy Clinic into the conversation. A feisty 80-year-old woman piped up and said, "I tell everyone not to support them because they are for abortion." Aghast, my friend explained, yet again, the word "choice." The woman looked at her and snapped, "Well tell them to get that [bleep] word out of their name!" And so we are. We are changing our name to Living Hope Women's Center. If anyone in the city is looking for a great name, it's available!

Dinah Monahan is the Heartbeat International Consultant for Rural and Small Centers. She can be reached at

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