Imagine being a young woman who recently found out she was pregnant through a visit to a pregnancy resource center (PRC). You are likely feeling alone, with no one to talk to except the staff you met. You aren’t sure how you’re going to care for the baby alone, or if you should tell the father. Now imagine that you are not able to go back to this PRC for ongoing help due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A year ago, most of us were living with business closures and lockdowns. At the time, I hadn’t thought about what these closures could mean for PRCs and the women they serve. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting Parkville Women’s Clinic, a PRC in my own neighborhood of Kansas City. The visit opened my eyes to the challenges PRCs faced this past year.
In the initial aftermath of city-wide closures, the clinic had to close for two weeks. However, during that time and through the rest of the year, volunteer nurses and staff members maintained ongoing communication via text with the women who had been coming to the clinic. Like the fictional woman I mentioned in the beginning, many were scared and still needed access to nurses and staff who could help them answer questions about pregnancy or their continued education. This touchpoint likely made all the difference for these women, many who were already in precarious situations. Nurses received text messages from women throughout their day and were able to provide real-time help and assurance. Other staff members provided counsel for women who were dealing with the uncertainty of talking to the baby’s father. Their care for these women did not stop simply because of COVID restrictions. Instead, they made every effort to maintain connection with these women as they walked the road of choosing life for their babies.
Public health protocols also caused several shifts for Parkville Women’s Clinic. They had to switch out their warm and inviting furniture for more sterile items that could be easily cleaned and sanitized after each visit. This meant the rooms where women asked hard questions about abortion were not nearly as comfortable as the staff would have liked. Also, the number of people who could be in a room at one time was restricted. Fathers were no longer able to come to the appointments, so the staff had to pivot once again and figure out how to keep the father engaged with the process. This is important because a mother is less likely to abort when a father is involved in the pregnancy.
The clinic “store” also had to undergo some changes. Previously, women who attended weekly equipping classes could “shop” in the store for diapers, wipes, baby clothes, and baby books. Thankfully, right before COVID hit, they had opened up digital course offerings which allowed women to continue learning and earn points to shop for products. These are now done by scheduling pick-ups. A staff member or volunteer will fill a bag of the requested items from the store, and women come to pick them up at a determined time. While there are more things this clinic did to continue caring for the lives of the preborn and their families, these are areas where they have excelled.
I encourage you to reach out to your local PRC and ask them how you can help. Many PRCs had to let go of volunteers and only allow staff to be in the building due to public health guidelines. While you still may not be able to volunteer in person, ask your local PRC what you can do now. They may need something as easy as donations of diapers and wipes. But even something as simple as donating diapers will go a long way in showing them that you stand for life, together.
Do you want to help save lives? Most women in a crisis pregnancy who are given a glimpse of the life within them choose life. However, this is only possible when women can go to a pregnancy center with an ultrasound machine. Sonogram machines are expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars. Most crisis pregnancy centers do not have the funds to buy the equipment or have a medical expert on staff to read the output. When you donate to the Psalm 139 Project, 100% of your funds go to ultrasound machine placement and training PRC staff members. Will you consider giving a tax-deductible donation to Psalm 139 and help us stand for life?