Why pregnancy care centers must answer the telehealth trend of abortion providers

COVID-19 and the increase in digital healthcare

April 12, 2022

Every sector of our economy made adjustments over the past two years in response to the global pandemic, creating new norms and challenges for us all. Many of us experienced this change in virtual learning, increased Zoom meetings, or online worship services from our living rooms. I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of this shift, but I do want to highlight a change that many may not have even realized was happening in communities across the country. This silent but critical change involved abortion pills and the increased ease at which women could recieve them. 

Telehealth was once a privilege for a few, but is now a common practice for most. This makes life easier for patients, medical offices, and for the everyday American dealing with a full calendar. Telehealth, however, also makes abortion much easier to access, with little to no oversight, and allows for mailboxes to become makeshift abortion clinics in every corner of our country. This dangerous precedent, highlighted by Planned Parenthood’s telehealth expansion to all 50 states in 2020, will only further the upward trend we are seeing across the abortion landscape as chemical or medical abortion (abortion by pill) went from 39% of all abortions in 2017 to 53% of all abortions in 2020. We do not anticipate seeing these numbers decline anytime soon as the FDA continues to make obtaining these pills easier and the abortion industry seeks to make up deficits as more and more pro-life states are successful in restricting abortion access. 

Proactive planning 

This is why post-Roe planning is so important and must be front of mind for Christians and for those on the frontlines of this work in pregnancy centers around our country. As we anxiously await the decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we must not sit on our hands. We must be prepared to act now. At Hope Resource Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, we have been proactive in offering virtual services for parenting education and mentoring. Many centers like us have also implemented their own telehealth options to connect and serve women in need. In addition, we have allocated large amounts of our budgets to reach women in our communities via digital marketing. We do not have the budget of the abortion industry, but that doesn’t mean we should disengage from the work at hand. Instead, we get creative, offer high-quality services, and provide free expert medical care to women and moms in need. 

We are on the cusp of a monumental court decision in the coming months. If and when Roe is overturned, we should celebrate. We should take a moment to honor those who have fought for this outcome, to mourn those we have lost, and to recognize the very courageous and bold decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in such a time as this. This victory lap, however sweet it will be, must quickly transform to action as we seek to continue to serve and love those in need. This action must involve digital engagement with potential patients via marketing, education, and efficient telehealth expansion. 

How you can help 

Traditionally, we have not focused fundraising or partnership efforts on having a digital footprint. The past two years have brought a pendulum swing in this area as we now must focus efforts in these areas. We have done this in Knoxville by producing educational videos housed on our website and played in our lobby to highlight what a patient can expect when they schedule an appointment with us. We have also allocated a large percentage of our budget to reach the abortion-minded patient in our area via digital avenues like social media, Google, and SEO or website content. 

A digital marketing focus takes time, talent, and treasure. This is where the Church comes in. We now have metrics available to us that prove this model works. These metrics, coupled with the playbook we are seeing implemented by the abortion industry, is the call to action we have been waiting for. This heavy lift can be eased by Church engagement via dollars, volunteers, and connection. 

If we have learned anything over the past two years it is this; abortion does not discriminate, it does not take a holiday, and it does not pause for a pandemic. We have made great strides in this work over the last 50 or so years, but our work will not stop if Roe ends. It’s a giant step in the right direction, but the only way we truly honor those who have spent their lives fighting to see abortion ended is to continue that work today and tomorrow as we take up the baton, adapt, and make way for image-bearers to be loved well as life is celebrated and abortion becomes a footnote in history books. 

We cannot do this work in silos or apart from each other. As the Church, we must unify and lead the way to a post-Roe era. Our organization in Knoxville would not have been able to find success these past 25 years without the consistent and bold support of the local church. We are able to fund, expand, and efficiently deliver services because of these partnerships. This need will only increase if we enter into a post-Roe future. Church, we need you. We need your prayers, your time, and your treasure as we seek to serve and love vulnerable babies, dads, and moms in our communities. I trust and believe that we are up for the task, and I am grateful to stand with you today. 

Andrew Wood

Andrew serves as the Executive Director of Hope Resource Center, one of the largest pregnancy centers in the Southeast, located in Knoxville, TN. When he is not discussing and promoting life issues he is at home with his wife, Erin, and their four kids. Read More by this Author

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