Every pro-life Christian has heard the bad news: since 1973 there have been more than 57 million abortions in America. But what is less known is that thousands of lives are saved each year through the valiant efforts of pregnancy resource centers (PRCs). One PRC network, Care Net, reports that in 2014 eighty percent of women (388,691) who visited their centers and who were at risk for abortion chose life.
Here are five facts you should know about PRCs and the effect they are having on our communities:
PRCs began before Roe v Wade — The first modern crisis pregnancy center began helping women in California in 1968. Within three years there were 70 centers, many of which joined together to form Alternatives to Abortion (later known as Heartbeat International). In 1975, two years after the nationwide legalization of abortion, theologian Harold O. J. Brown formed the Christian Action Council, a group which would later adopt the name “Care Net.” Care Net opened it’s first PRC in 1983. In 1994 the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) was established to provide legal counsel to PRCs. NIFLA later became the first national pregnancy center organization to promote the acquisition of ultrasound technology. Today, Heartbeat International, Care Net, and NIFLA are the three major PRC networks, operating nearly 2,000 pregnancy centers.
PRCs spread the good news about Jesus — PRCs serve more than 2.3 million people each year, providing such services as pregnancy tests, ultrasound and medical services, abstinence education, options consulting and education, and parenting and childbirth classes. Many PRCs also share the gospel with their clients. Over the past seven years, more than 1.2 million people heard the gospel from Care Net centers.
PRCs are supported by volunteers —Care Net, Heartbeat, and NIFLA affiliates are staffed by more than 70,000 volunteers who do everything from bookkeeping to pregnancy counseling. At most PRCs, The medical services are also supplied by doctors, nurses, and other medical and management personnel who volunteer their time and talents to help women at risk for abortion.
PRCs use ultrasound to change hearts and minds — About half of PRCs in America offer ultrasound services to the women they serve at little or no cost. In 2010 alone, close to 230,000 ultrasounds were performed at PRCs. The use of ultrasounds helps to provide confirmation of pregnancy, verifies the developing baby’s gestational age, and provides essential information that can provide a new perspective for women thinking about having an abortion. As Barbara Shoun says, “Ultrasound technology is proving to be the most convincing piece of evidence the pro-life community has to offer young women who think their unborn children aren’t babies.”
(Through the Psalm 139Project, ERLC seeks to save lives by donating an ultrasound machine to a PRC in the city hosting the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.)
PRCs use communications technology to save lives — Many PRCs are starting to use communications technology to reach clients even before they come to the clinics. Care Net, for example, operates the Pregnancy Decision Line (PDL) website and real-time call center, which provides “caring, confidential, free support to anyone making choices about an unexpected pregnancy.” PDL is currently the only national call center and Internet website designed to reach people considering abortion with immediate pregnancy decision coaching, information, and referrals. An estimated 81 percent of PDL contacts are at risk for abortion, making PDL an invaluable tool for reaching women and helping them to choose life.
For more information on the impact of PRCs, see the 2015 Care Net Impact Report.