Center for Pregnancy Concerns’ Howard St. location expected to open on schedule

The Howard St. building required major work to serve as a viable location for the Center for Pregnancy Concerns. (Courtesy Center for Pregnancy Concerns)

The pro-life Center for Pregnancy Concerns (CPC) will open as planned at 328 N. Howard St. in Baltimore, next door to the city’s Planned Parenthood location, late this summer, according to Gina Ruppert, executive director of CPC.

“Amazingly, building was not affected by all of the shutdowns,” she said.

The lack of traffic in fact simplified the delivery of construction materials and general access to the building, she added.

It took close to $1 million and several years of fundraising for the gut-and-rehab project to get to this point, said Ruppert. Local businesses have helped with material donations, such as some lumber, the building’s HVAC system, and lighting, she added.

Ruppert praised the construction crew, which she said has expressed no position on CPC’s mission but has proven hardworking and easy to work with.

Though CPC is ecumenical, Ruppert herself is a lifetime parishioner of Sacred Heart in Glyndon, and earlier in the spring buried a Jerusalem cross and several holy medals in the building’s newly-poured basement floor.

“Everyone’s getting really excited,” she said. “The building’s been a long time coming, but the timing couldn’t be better, with the quarantine and baby boom everyone’s been predicting. We will be timely for helping some women.”

She described the building layout as “kind of like a shotgun – it goes straight back, and it’s narrow.”

The first floor will include a waiting area and desk in front, two sonogram rooms, three counseling rooms, and an office, all on the first floor. Due to financial constraints, the upper floors will be stabilized but not utilized.

The new location will have three full-time staff: a nurse/manager, a sonographer, and a counselor. Always critical to CPC’s mission, volunteers will play a role here, too.

Gina Ruppert is the executive director of the Center for Pregnancy Concerns. (George P. Matysek/CR Staff)

Meanwhile, CPC’s location at St. Rita Parish in Dundalk, in service for 13 years, has closed. Ruppert explained that CPC was unable to renew the lease due to a pipe leak, consequent moisture problems, and the prospect of an expensive repair.

CPC’s Essex location, approximately six miles away from St. Rita and accessible by bus, will serve those women who would go to the latter, Ruppert said.

She said the apparently strategic location is a “first” for CPC, which is currently celebrating 40 years in existence. While other pro-life centers famously set up shop close to abortion providers, CPC never has, and it didn’t seek out the Howard St. location – it was offered by pro-life activists.

“We accepted it not knowing what we were accepting,” Ruppert said, referring to the cost of the rehab.

Even with the apparently strategic location, CPC’s primary focus is helping women, not battling the neighbors. COVID-19 has temporarily closed its physical location, but women are still accessing it via its helpline or word of mouth, including by sidewalk counselors outside the Baltimore Planned Parenthood, which is, by extension, outside CPC itself, though the building currently lacks signage.

Sometimes, women consult both organizations as they come to their decision.

“They come to us before, they come to us after, and sometimes they come to us during (their visits to Planned Parenthood),” Ruppert said.

She noted that chemical abortions – in which the patient ingests a series of pills that end the young life in utero – have become more prevalent, accounting for more than 40 percent of abortions before nine weeks.

In her column in the second May edition of CPC’s monthly newsletter, Ruppert described a woman who took the first abortion pill of the regimen.

While she “thought the abortion pill was the answer to alleviating her stress and worry,” Ruppert wrote, she instead “found herself questioning her decision and then in a state of panic.”

The woman called the Abortion Pill Rescue hotline, which connected her with a local pro-life doctor, and then with CPC for a sonogram, which determined “by God’s grace, her baby’s heart was still beating,” Ruppert wrote.

Gina Ruppert, center, consults with workers at the CPC’s new Howard St. location. (Courtesy Center for Pregnancy Concerns)

“CPC was able to assist this mother with an ultrasound, counseling, and encouragement in her brave struggle to choose life.”

Due to COVID-19, CPC has been able to offer only curbside services or, by appointment, emergency sonograms for “abortion vulnerable” women, Ruppert said.

The organization’s 24-hour helpline has nevertheless been busy, and, according to Ruppert, the CPC had assisted approximately 250 women and families seeking diapers, wipes, and other essentials, even making deliveries to women who, due to an ill household member, were under strict quarantine.

The Howard St. opening is fast approaching, but that is not CPC’s only urgent project.

“Location is important in this instance, but most important is to have a great web presence, because that is where women go for info,” Ruppert said. “When you have something strange growing on your elbow, where do you go? Not right to the doctor.”

Also see:

New head of pro-life outreach takes helm as wall separates two sides of moral divide

Planned pro-life pregnancy center in downtown Baltimore gets boost

Erik Zygmont

Erik Zygmont

A journalist since 2005, Erik wrote for small-town publications in New Hampshire before he left for Germany, where he taught English for two years, starting in 2009. He moved to Baltimore and served as editor of the Baltimore Guide from 2012 to 2015. He then served as a staff writer for Catholic Review until August 2017 when his family made plans to relocate from Maryland. He currently serves as a freelance contributor.

Erik is grateful for the richness of the Catholic faith he has experienced since, owing both to his access as a journalist and the Baltimore Archdiocese being the Premier See.