The Heroic Work Of Pregnancy Resource Centers
A roundtable discussion about valuing life and the influence of ultrasound machines
The ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project has had the privilege of funding the placement of ultrasound machines in 22 different pregnancy resource centers, including the Sanchez Center, a Baptist Community Health Services (BCHS) clinic in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana; Liberty Women’s Clinic in Liberty, Missouri; and Care Net Pregnancy Center near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Launched in 2014, the Sanchez Center is operated by BCHS, which runs five clinics delivering a range of services from prenatal and elderly care to behavioral and mental health care. Its mission is to demonstrate the love of Christ by delivering high-quality healthcare services in medically underserved communities.
Since 2002, Liberty Women’s Clinic (LWC) has sought to minister with the love of Christ by empowering people to make informed, life-affirming choices about pregnancy, sexual health, and relationships.
Likewise, Care Net Pregnancy Center is a ministry that seeks to partner with its clients by confirming pregnancy, extending comprehensive support, and cultivating healthy relationships to help them flourish.
Through the donation of ultrasound machines by the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project, these and other centers have had a notable effect on their surrounding communities, offering life-saving ultrasounds and influencing numerous pregnancy decisions every year. We talked to the leaders of these incredible organizations about their ministry and the people they get to serve.
ERLC: What type of community do you serve?
Carol Graham, Liberty Women’s Clinic: Liberty is a community of approximately 60,000 which includes Kansas City addresses. Because of our location, we serve women from urban, suburban, and surrounding smaller towns. During COVID-19 closures, we actually provided virtual services to women in every single county surrounding Kansas City.
Jamie Dickerson, Care Net Pregnancy Center: The community we serve is diverse. We see a large percentage of Hispanic women and men, some of whom are undocumented immigrants. This reflects the population of our wider community. We also serve from high school students up to women in their 40s. The most common age range of women we serve is from 20-30. In addition, we have the opportunity to serve college students from New Mexico State University, including many international students.
Shawn Powers, BCHS: BCHS clinics are located in medically underserved communities, where we engage with patients of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses at little to no cost.
ERLC: How has the Psalm 139 Project affected your pregnancy resource center?
CG: The Psalm 139 project provided our clinic with a second ultrasound machine, offering the opportunity to double the number of scans within the current facility and hours.
JD: The Psalm 139 Project made it possible for us to start providing life-saving ultrasounds. We transitioned to being a medical pregnancy center this year with trained nurse sonographers. Now, in addition to providing free pregnancy tests, we are able to share images of unborn babies with their parents.
SP: With the ultrasound machine provided by the Psalm 139 Project, BCHS is able to convey the miracle of God-given life in the womb and develop relationships between parents and their children. The free ultrasounds help mothers understand the dignity and value of all life.
ERLC: How has the Lord used the sonogram machines to influence Kingdom work?
CG: A woman who is in the valley of despair between choosing life or death for her unborn child will change her mind almost 80% of the time after viewing her baby on an ultrasound. She is shown mercy, grace, truth, and the love of Christ during her interaction with staff and volunteers, perhaps affecting her entire future.
JD: We believe that providing women and men information about their options is a powerful tool in both saving and transforming lives. The sonogram machine adds a valuable layer in providing parents full information about the implications of their pregnancy decision. Though we have only been providing ultrasounds for a few short months, we have had the opportunity to see women choose life after viewing their baby on an ultrasound.
SP: The machine has helped communicate the dignity and value of human life, setting in motion a relationship in which BCHS gets to walk with mothers and their children long after delivery to build community trust and long-term flourishing. With the machine, we’re able to provide a service to patients who may not otherwise receive it, giving us the opportunity to minister to those in need.
ERLC: What usually happens after a woman sees her baby through an ultrasound?
CG: Typically, we see clients in their first stages of pregnancy. During those early weeks, the signs of pregnancy are usually morning sickness and a missed period. For the client, those symptoms are not enough to make the pregnancy real. When a woman sees her baby in the ultrasound, a shift in thinking takes place. The client no longer sees her conditions as symptoms to be diagnosed but as signs of life growing in her womb, and a relationship is established. With the ultrasound, the client can make a truly informed decision about her pregnancy.
One of our first expecting moms who came in for an ultrasound had been to our center for a previous pregnancy and was fairly set on abortion. This time, she was unsure about how far along she was. She stated that seeing the images and the heartbeat on the ultrasound made a difference for her in making a pregnancy decision for life.
ERLC: How many women or couples come for advice, resources, and other services?
CG: In 2019, God worked through LWC with 3,900 services provided during 643 transformational client visits and 195 ultrasounds. We had 225 known decisions for life. At the halfway point of 2020, we were only slightly lagging behind our 2019 services provided number, even with the temporary closure of our physical clinic due to COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, we had 1095 appointments. And at our clinic, where 8 out of 10 women choose life, we received 433 abortion-seeking calls.
We’ve seen a spike in women leveraging our virtual services plus an increase in inquiries about abortions and abortion pills. We were blessed to stay “open” during this time to assist these women and continue to carefully provide client services as we worked slowly toward a full reopening. God has been faithful to continue to grow us.
JD: In 2019, we served 587 unique clients with 1,346 total visits. These included free pregnancy tests as well as providing emergency baby and maternity supplies. In addition, we normally provide around 20,000 diapers to our community annually. During COVID, our numbers of diaper distribution have been even higher.
We have so much to celebrate despite the difficulties that 2020 brought with it. I will remember 2020 as the year that God answered my prayer and the prayers of so many for Care Net to become a medical clinic able to provide ultrasounds and even more care to each of our clients.
When our El Paso pregnancy center neighbors had to close because of COVID for a few weeks, we were able to see their clients who were in desperate need. We are still seeing the fruit from those weeks as we are walking with several of those clients as their babies are growing.
We provided 99 pregnancy tests and 47 ultrasounds for clients in 2020. We also increased the number of at-risk pregnancy test clients by more than 20% in the second half of 2020 compared to 2019. We ramped up the number of supplies we offered to the community. We received calls from so many people who needed diapers and wipes due to the scarcity created by the pandemic and provided over 25,000 diapers and so many other necessities to families last year.
ERLC: Do you have any additional information you can share that highlights the importance of pregnancy resource centers?
JD: There are 13,300 abortion-related searches online each month in the Kansas City area. Approximately 3,708 pregnancies are ended yearly in the Kansas City metro area. And from March–June 2020, LWC staff fielded 75 phone calls from abortion-minded women during our critical time of offering exclusively virtual services. This is in addition to calls and texts from non-abortion-minded women. We know of 45 life decisions and two decisions to abort made during that same time period.
ERLC: Can you estimate how many pregnancies are saved per ultrasound machine at a pro-life pregnancy center?
CG: There were 225 lives saved at LWC during 2019, but we do not keep statistics per machine. However, the ultrasound machine we received from the ERLC is our first choice when it is available because the technology is newer and superior.
ERLC: What else would you share with those who are passionate about saving unborn babies as well as preserving life and the human dignity of others in the name of Jesus?
CG: Pregnancy resource centers are vital to proclaiming the dignity and right to life of preborn children, mothers, and fathers in unplanned pregnancy situations, and maybe especially so during trying times like a pandemic. LWC’s mobile services coordinator summed up best the work of these centers—and the call for every Christian as we stand for life.
JD: The language we speak around issues of life and human dignity is as important as the actions we take. As we seek to minister to women, men, and the unborn, it is vital that we recognize the dignity of each person involved. They are each made in the image of God and deserve our love and respect no matter their circumstances.
In the pro-life arena, women often get thrown under the bus for the choices they have made. Our hope at Care Net of Las Cruces is to meet women right where they are, love them in that space, and walk with them as they seek information and help. We also firmly believe that standing for life includes so much more than words but includes meeting physical needs. This is important in every community because abortion is often chosen due to a lack of resources. But for us in Las Cruces, we see the ability to meet such needs as a unique and incredible opportunity to minister and honor life in our borderland.
BCHS: The abortion industry exploits underserved communities. But when these communities become a priority for those intent on preserving the life and human dignity of others, not only do these free ultrasound services save lives, but in our experience, they establish a relationship of trust. Often that trust results in parents bringing their kids to the clinic, becoming long-term patients. These ultrasound machines allow us not merely to save a life but to invest in the ongoing care of entire families.
Carol Graham is the founder & CEO of Liberty Women’s Clinic.
Jamie Dickerson is the executive director of Care Net of Las Cruces.
Shawn Powers is the CEO of Baptist Community Health Services (BCHS).