What does pro-life ministry look like in California?

A pregnancy resource center comes alongside vulnerable mothers

November 13, 2023

With shifting policies and restrictions related to life and abortion across the country, pro-life ministry can look different across state lines. However, the heart behind pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) has been one and the same: to save lives and come alongside vulnerable women during the most difficult moments of their lives. 

I recently spoke with Wendy Reasner, executive director of NorthState Care Clinic in Redding, California, to hear more about the abortion landscape in California and how their PRC is working to reach more women and children with the love and hope of the gospel. Wendy also shared how churches and pro-life individuals and organizations can work together to foster a culture of life and support for the most vulnerable. 

Jill Waggoner: How would you describe the abortion culture in California?

Wendy Reasner: California has become an abortion tourism state. Gov. [Gavin] Newsom has put up billboards that say, “Please come to our state, and we will help you. We will pay for your abortion. We will pay for your travel. We’ll pay for the childcare of your other children in order for you to get an abortion.” Newsom used Scripture on those billboards. There are pilots who fly into California from other states to help women get abortions. 

The availability of abortion pills is also increasing. Right now, they’re not only offered through the mail—they’re at our local CVS and Rite Aid. You don’t have to do much to have those pills sent or prescribed to you. Before Dobbs, we were a state that was providing abortion up until birth, and nothing has changed since. So it’s just completely and purely pro-choice. 

JW: What should we know about late-term abortions?

WR: A lot of people think women are having late-term abortions to protect the health of the mother. But early court cases defined the health of the mother as anything that impedes even the mental status of the mother. So if being pregnant at the very last day of pregnancy makes the mother depressed and she wants an abortion, then that’s just fine. 

Many people also don’t know that in certain states, especially in California, if a baby survives a late-term abortion and is born alive, there are no lifesaving measures taken to help that baby.

JW: What does it look like to be pro-life in California?

WR: I would say being pro-life in California is like swimming upstream. In Northern California, where I live and where our new mobile ultrasound bus is located, it is very conservative. We’re blessed to be in a largely religious, pro-life area. However, we have to comply with all of the legislation that comes from the state, which is very pro-choice. 

JW: What has your experience been with local representatives and policies, and how do they affect your work?

WR: We are fortunate to have pro-life representatives in Northern California, but I don’t think PRC information really reaches them. We’ve contacted our local representatives to come visit our PRC, because there has been an attack on pregnancy centers all over the country and false warnings that they are fake abortion clinics. Our legislators don’t really understand what this is all about, but they don’t seem to want to visit and learn what a PRC is and how we are truly supporting women and our community. I feel like a lot of leaders—unless they’re radically pro-choice or radically pro-life—just aren’t paying attention. 

JW: What does your PRC provide for your community?

WR: We’re in a rural area and serve close to 1,000 women each year. We’ve given over 200 pregnancy tests throughout the year and also provide free ultrasounds for women. In abortion clinics, women are often not permitted to see their ultrasounds, because those working in the clinic know that an ultrasound has the greatest impact in helping a woman connect with her unborn child. So many young girls think that a baby’s heartbeat begins beating at three months and are always surprised that at six weeks, they can see the heart beating on the screen.

In addition to giving lifesaving ultrasounds, we’re walking with women throughout the journey. Through our “earn while you learn” program, mothers can earn points by educating themselves on anything related to pregnancy, parenting, budgeting, etc., taking ownership for their own education, and then using those points in our boutique to get resources and supplies for pregnancy and early childhood care. We have cribs, strollers, car seats, and clothing. We offer labor and delivery classes and spiritual connection classes, as well. 

We also offer reproductive loss classes for those who’ve had miscarriages or abortions, because the sad reality is that when a mom chooses to abort, she usually struggles afterward. We just want to make sure that mom knows how to care for herself, that she knows that she’s supported, and that she knows that she can do it.

JW: What do you want those who live in areas with more abortion restrictions to understand about the pro-life movement in places like California?

WR: There is no easy serving in the pro-life movement, no matter what state you’re in and no matter what restrictions are there, because the heart and the mind of women is pretty much the same everywhere. We are all facing a huge battle, but we know that we are serving a God who is bigger than anything. We can also praise God for states with abortion restrictions, because we know that lives are being saved there, and we know that the media is not publishing stories of girls who are choosing life.

JW: How would you encourage pro-life individuals to get involved in advocating for women and children?

WR: I would encourage pro-life individuals to get involved with a state family council of some sort or a consortium of people who are watching legislation. In California, we have the California Family Council, which has a website that displays all of the new policies that affect families. Having a finger on the pulse of legislation helps pro-life individuals organize better and to come together in their advocacy. The pro-life movement has often been divided, but together, we can be an insurmountable force for the Kingdom of God.

JW: What do you see as the greatest need from churches and other pro-life partners in the coming days?

WR: Recent research tells us that 1 in 3 women who terminate their pregnancies were attending church at the time, so I feel the greatest need from the Church is to acknowledge that this is an issue, and not to run away from it. We need to understand the women in our churches and understand that the whole reason that PRCs exist is because women are intimidated to come to their churches. I can actually speak from personal experience. As a teenager, I was too intimidated, too ashamed, and too guilty to tell someone my story.

I think that churches have taken great strides in this area. We give mothers a beautiful gift box, letting them know that there are people in the church who love them and are willing to walk with them. There is a fabulous organization (and others like it) called Embrace Grace that serves as a connector from PRCs to the Church. The church actually gets to help save lives, both physically and spiritually. 

Jill Waggoner

Jill Waggoner serves as a communications and PR strategist, writing and developing content for the organization’s online and print resources. She has served the ERLC since 2005, including as brand manager for Global Hunger Relief from 2014-2018. A graduate of Union University, she and her family reside in Lebanon, Tennessee. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24