Respect Life Month Continues…
Crisis Pregnancy: The Power of an Image
By: Danielle Koleniak
As we dive into week two of Respect life Month: You are not Alone, we center in on a topic commonly identifiable with the ‘Respect Life’ subject: Crisis Pregnancy. Rather than focusing on the horror from the recent headlines involving Planned Parenthood and their alleged business practices, we’re going to report back to you some good news. About a year ago, parishioners of St. John XXIII joined forces with the Knights of Columbus to raise funds to purchase an ultrasound machine for Verity Pregnacy & Medical Resource Center. Verity is a non-profit, faith-based medical center that offers services such as pregnacy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, referral services (and the list goes on) to women and couples who are facing an unplanned pregnacy. Executive Director Becky Anderson says the results from the brand new ultrasound machine are nothing short of an answered prayer– and it’s not slowing down.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
So far this year, the center has saved more than 50 babies’ lives and she credits the hand of God, a hardworking staff and crystal clear images from the new ultrasound machine.
Danielle Koleniak: What has this past year been like at Verity Pregnancy & Medical Resource Center?
Becky Anderson: We are definitely feeling the blessings of God! We knew last December when we met for our staff retreat that God was calling us to be busier. We really didn’t know what that would look like, but sure enough when January 2nd came, and we opened our doors, we started seeing more clients every single day. We are now at a 60 percent increase in total client visits for the year. We’re very busy, but it’s all really good things. We’re seeing more abortion-vulnerable clients. We’re having the opportunity to do more child birthing classes and more counseling sessions. It helps these young families who don’t even know what they are facing, allow us to come alongside and help them learn what it means to be a parent. It really encourages them. It’s really exciting to see. We’re handling all of this with the same size staff and volunteers as last year. Are we tired? Yes! Are we blessed? Very much so! I’m really thankful that God is allowing us to do His work.
DK: It’s also been a year since you’ve received the new ultrasound machine, donated by the faithful parishioners of St. John XXIII. What effect or influence has this had in the past 12 months?
BA: By the numbers, we are also seeing a 60 percent increase in the number of ultrasounds we are doing. The stories are endless…. but here’s one:
About three weeks ago, we had a mother call to make an appointment for her 17 year-old daughter who she believed was pregnant as a result of a forced sexual encounter. They went to Planned Parenthood and the 17 year-old girl decided she wanted an abortion. Her mother did not want her to have one and was trying to gently help her toward a choice for life. She then called us to make that appointment. The girl came here because when she went to Planned Parenthood, she could not afford the ultrasound that she needed in order to know how much she was going to have to come up with to pay for the abortion. When she came to us for the free ultrasound, she saw the baby and made the choice for life.
DK: What’s next for her and the baby?
BA: She is in the process of making those decisions. We gave her all the information she needs on adoption. She left here saying she was going to take her time making the decision between parenting and adoption because she knew she was young and didn’t feel she was prepared to be a mother, but she wasn’t going to rush it. With our guidance, she was able to talk to some people who had been through all of it- adoptions, abortions and teen-motherhood. We reminded her that there is no rush. The baby is not coming tomorrow and that she has time to think through this and explore the options. The rest of the story is untold, but now the family will remain whole in so many ways, and that would not have happened, had she decided to get an abortion.
DK: What does the new ultrasound machine allow mothers to see, that could not be seen before?
BA: Just over a year ago, we were sitting in our conference room with some leaders from the parish’s Knights of Columbus talking about their interest in getting us a new ultrasound machine. We knew we would need the ultrasound machine sooner than later because what we had at the time was grainy and difficult to read. When we called for some technical assistance, we were told that if we could shut the machine down after every ultrasound, it would preserve the image just a little for the next one, but we would eventually have to get a new one. After that meeting, we thought we might get the new ultrasound machine sometime in 2015, but by the grace of God and the generosity, passion and persistence of the parishioners of St. John XXIII, as well as, the Knights of Columbus, we got the ultrasound machine much more quickly than we ever could have imagined. It was installed on October 2nd, 2014.
Before, with the old ultrasound, if a girl came in and was five weeks pregnant, we weren’t able to show her much. We could point to what we knew was a baby, but the girl would not be able to see it. Now at five and six weeks, you can clearly see the baby. More importantly, since October 2nd 2014, I can’t count the number of times we’ve watched an abortion-vulnerable girl who looks up at the screen, may not understand what she is looking at, fully, but sees a beating heart. That makes all the difference. It becomes that first moment of bonding. It literally saves lives.
DK: Has Planned Parenthood’s recently made headlines for alleged horrendous practices, made any difference for the women who walk through your doors?
BA: The vast majority of our clients are not news watching and they are unaware. Even women who are abortion vulnerable are turned off by what they are seeing in a very big way. I don’t believe that Planned Parenthood’s clients are going to go away tomorrow because they don’t really know what is happening. So, it’s important we continue the battle at a legislative level and every way you can imagine.
The ultrasound has required Planned Parenthood to change their narrative. That’s important because it’s not a blob or a clump of cells, it’s a life. The evil is very obvious.
We need to remember as the Church, there are women who have made the decision to have an abortion, seen the videos and are now suffering and need to find help. So, ‘Project Rachel’ and other programs are going to be more important than ever. We, as a church, need to be ready to serve them when they are ready to come for help. We need to take good care of them.
DK: With saving more than 50 babies this year and an increase in clients, what is your greatest need as Verity Pregnancy Center continues to grow?
BA: We could always use more volunteers. But, we understand that in the world we live in, volunteering is a difficult thing to do, so we may need to soon look at increasing our staff. We’re preparing to add sexual transmitted disease (STD) testing to our services because many of our clients have put themselves or been put into very risky behaviors that create an STD. We want the baby to be protected from that. It’s going to take more help, but it also means it is going to save more babies. People who won’t come for a pregnancy test, might come for an STD testing. In return, it will start a conversation about waiting to have sex to avoid STDs and/or an unplanned pregnancy. This service can become the preventative arm in our ministry. We are also always in need of baby bath and diapers!
To help support the mission of Verity Pregnancy & Medical Resource Center, please donate and drop off Baby Bath and diaper to the Respect Life Table in the Narthex, next weekend. We thank you for your continued support and generosity!