Alabama’s first Stork Bus hits the road to serve Cullman County, North Alabama

Alabama’s first Stork Bus hits the road to serve Cullman County, North Alabama

Alabama’s first Stork Bus is on the road in North Alabama, and already unborn lives are being saved and celebrated onboard the mobile pregnancy resource center.

The Stork Bus is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van outfitted with an ultrasound machine so expectant mothers can see an image of their unborn baby and hear the child’s heartbeat. The mobile unit can go just about anywhere to provide the service, an answer to prayer for staff and volunteers at First Source for Women (FSFW) in Hanceville who said God planted the seed of the idea in their hearts and minds.

“Our passion and vision for getting the mobile unit was so that we could intersect with clients who might not be looking for us,” said Allison Reid, the center’s nurse manager and manager of the mobile unit.

FSFW staff and volunteers feared many women were going straight to abortion clinics, like the one in Huntsville, rather than seeking counseling. The Stork Bus changes the equation.

“Clients are going to the abortion clinic not expecting to see us parked on the corner before they get there,” Reid said. “We believe God can orchestrate it so the people who need us see us.”

Though Alabama has several mobile pregnancy resource centers, including Life on Wheels in Montgomery and a mobile unit affiliated with Women’s Resource Center in Mobile, Hanceville has Alabama’s first Stork Bus.

The Stork Bus was made possible by generous donations from local churches, business leaders, civic and community groups and a grant from Save the Storks, which designs and builds the buses.

Save the Storks officially began in 2012 when founders Joe and Ann Baker dreamed of helping pregnancy resource centers better connect with women in their communities who were considering abortion. The Bakers believed mobile units and “a generous, compassionate and loving” approach would help. Since then, the organization has funded 42 buses, 35 on the road and another seven in production, and saved more than 4,000 babies, according to its website.

Reaching the community

Since the Hanceville bus, named Nathan Andrew in honor of a donor, was delivered Sept. 22, 2017, it has been a new way to introduce community members to the services provided by FSFW, which include free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, referrals for medical care, clothing, mentoring for mothers and fathers, and post-abortion recovery.

Reid has driven the Stork Bus to speaking events at churches, which support FSFW through fundraising efforts. She has driven the bus to Huntsville and parked near the abortion clinic, praying women seeking an abortion will stop at the Stork Bus instead. And she has taken the bus to local schools, where teens have gotten on the bus to take a look around and ask questions.

Unique opportunities

Each situation offers unique opportunities. At church events, supporters can see the results of their financial gifts and hear the stories of lives changed by the ministry.

Pregnant women who board the bus for an ultrasound are amazed by the luxurious interior space and the special treatment they receive. Reid hopes the message, “You’re worth this. You’re valuable,” sinks in with clients.

“Many times their self-worth may be low, and we want to let them see they’re worth extravagance,” she said.

“Hopefully that can lead to conversations about how they are priceless in God’s eyes.”

The teens who hear Reid speak on human development and healthy relationships hopefully will not need the services of FSFW, but she wants them to know the center is there if they do.

“We want them to know it’s a judgment-free environment, a loving environment, but also a place where we speak truth and life,” Reid said.

A current client of FSFW is one of the teens who heard that message at school and now takes parenting classes at the center.

“We’ve been able to walk with her and she knows that somebody’s there for her,” Reid said.

The Stork Bus is one more way FSFW can share its message of hope in Hanceville, Cullman County and North Alabama, said director Catherine Bethell. It’s a rolling billboard and a first point of contact for women who need help.

“We can refer the mobile clients here (to the center) where they can receive ongoing love, education and support throughout their pregnancy,” Bethell said.

Reid believes many women choose abortion because they are afraid they have no other choice. She and others at FSFW want to change that mindset.

“We want to be that presence to let them know there is help and there is hope.”


Pregnancy resource centers need prayer for women, staff

Approximately 70 pregnancy resource centers in Alabama provide a variety of services, including free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, medical referrals, counseling and mentoring programs for mothers and fathers and post-abortion counseling for those who seek healing.

Staff members and volunteers at these centers know that they can’t change a woman’s mind, but they do all they can to persuade clients to choose life instead of abortion for their unborn children.

“We hope they choose life, but we pray for them whatever they choose,” said Marty Carrell, CEO of Women’s Resource Center, a pregnancy resource center with three locations in Mobile.

She gave a recent example of a high school student who had sought help but still chose to have an abortion. Staff members reached out to the girl to offer post-abortion counseling.

“We know from other cases what she’s going to have to walk through,” Carrell said. “We do everything we can to keep them from making that choice, but regardless we seek to extend grace and mercy to these women.”

Declining rates

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that abortion rates in Alabama have been steadily declining since 2008. Alabama law requires women to receive state-directed counseling and wait 48 hours before an abortion is provided, and a woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. Most of Alabama’s pregnancy resource centers offer these services, but Women’s Resource Center also offers ongoing support for mothers, fathers and even other family members. It’s about nurturing a culture of life, Carrell said.

“Our mission is about the unborn, but it’s also about protecting and promoting life, valuing others and honoring people across the city,” she said.

Pregnancy resource center personnel across the state frequently speak in schools and community groups to share a message of sexual integrity, healthy relationships and making positive choices.

Allison Reid, nurse manager for First Source for Women, a pregnancy resource center in Hanceville, said she hopes a woman never needs their services. Prevention education plays a role in that but so does letting people know that pregnancy resource centers exist, something Reid mentions when she talks to high school kids.

“We tell them there is a place if you know anybody who might need services — if you or your friends find yourselves in that situation,” Reid said.

Lisa Hogan, executive director of Sav-A-Life Birmingham, said the center’s education programs are “flourishing as we seek to help them understand what it means to have an abundant life and to understand what God desires family to be.”

Churches need to talk about options too, Carrell believes. Statistically it’s likely that most if not all churches have someone in the congregation who has been or will be affected by abortion. A post-abortive woman, a man whose child has been aborted, the mother of a teenager who is sexually active — they all need to know that there is hope when a crisis pregnancy happens and grace and healing for those who have made abortion decisions in the past, Carrell said.

She also noted that while financial support for pregnancy resource centers is always needed, prayer support is also critical.

“It’s a battle,” she said, noting the “passion and burden and the weight of what the staff carries for these women.”

Volunteers carry the women to church with them and have baby showers for them. They try to be supportive in every way possible. But spiritual attacks come because of that stand, Carrell said.

“That’s why we tell pastors, we need you standing with us, praying for us,” she said. “These women don’t just come in and get a pregnancy test. We do life with them.”

Urgent prayer need

Hogan said news that Planned Parenthood has purchased land in downtown Birmingham to build a new abortion center is an urgent prayer need as well. Currently the organization’s locations in Mobile and Birmingham are not providing abortions, making Birmingham the nation’s largest metropolitan city without an abortion clinic, Hogan said. Abortion clinics continue to operate in Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.

A new Planned Parenthood location could drastically change the abortion landscape in Birmingham and central Alabama, Hogan said.

Hogan expects several local events in the coming months to unite pro-life supporters in the fight against the new clinic, which told Alabama Media Group that it expects to break ground sometime this year.

“It’s going to take all of the pro-life organizations and churches working together to keep this from coming to fruition,” she said.

To find your local pregnancy resource center, go to and use the search tool.