Pregnancy centers consolidate to provide services across Birmingham metro area

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

An ultrasound performed early in pregnancy has great potential to persuade an abortion-minded woman to carry her baby to term. So the gift of a new ultrasound machine to North Jefferson Women’s Center (NJWC) in Fultondale means lives will be saved.

Julie McLendon, NJWC director, says 50% of the time a woman or couple determined to have an abortion decides against the procedure after viewing an ultrasound. An estimated 90% of couples who are undecided choose life following an ultrasound.

“One machine makes a difference,” McLendon said. And two machines — that’s even better. Now thanks to the gift of the new machine to NJWC more ultrasounds can be performed in the Birmingham metro area because the center’s old machine has a new home at St. Clair County Sav-A-Life.

The gift of the ultrasound machine was the answer to years of prayers, said Angie Cantrell, executive director of St. Clair County Sav-A-Life.

“About two years ago we started the process of investigating how we could start an ultrasound ministry in our pregnancy center,” Cantrell said. “We didn’t know where the machine was going to come from.” 

A few miles away in Fultondale, NJWC was contacted by the Psalm 139 Project, an initiative of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) to provide ultrasound machines, which can cost as much as $25,000, to pregnancy resource centers. 

Chris Crain, executive director of Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, helped connect Psalm 139 Project and NJWC for the gift of a new ultrasound machine. 

Since Crain had previously served as director of missions in St. Clair Baptist Association he knew St. Clair County Sav-A-Life could use the NJWC’s machine. 

“We were excited to support Angie’s vision for families and for keeping the unborn safe,” Crain said. “The stewardship of ERLC in finding a way to bless two centers was a remarkable example of Kingdom partnership. It was really special to be part of that.”

Common mission

Following the dedication of the new ultrasound machine on April 26, Russell Moore, president of ERLC, said the cooperation between the two ministries was impressive.

“One of the really exciting things to me is there’s not just one pregnancy resource center involved — there are multiple ministries involved. I’ve really been impressed at how they’re working together,” he said.

Pregnancy centers around the state differ in the services they offer, but all have a common mission — to save one baby at a time from abortion by helping mothers and fathers face the issues that make abortion seem like their best option.

The recent merger of NJWC and Sav-A-Life Vestavia means Sav-A-Life now has strategic locations on both sides of the Birmingham metro area. 

Sav-A-Life Vestavia executive director Lisa Hogan said the partnership is especially important as construction of a new Planned Parenthood location continues in Birmingham.

The clinic is expected to open in 2019, according to representatives of Planned Parenthood Southeast. Hogan said Birmingham metro area pregnancy resource centers must be ready.

“We’re very fortunate [to have] six different centers in the Birmingham area proper so we do all try to work together,” she said. “We get together regularly as directors, share resources and share ideas the best we can. We see how God is at work.”

Helping women choose life is just a portion of the work. Volunteers also provide parenting classes for mothers and fathers and help connect clients with prenatal care. 

The work also includes providing compassionate care to women in crisis, Cantrell said. When a woman or couple comes into a pregnancy resource center they are afraid, she said.

“It’s so important that they are met immediately with love, compassion and mercy,” Cantrell said. “So many times they’re faced with rejection and broken relationships. We want to be the hands and feet of Christ when they walk through the door.”

Those seeking help may receive a free pregnancy test, undergo an ultrasound or just converse with a volunteer who will listen. 

Forgiven by God

“Our goal is to take away their fears and concerns and say it’s okay. We’ve got this. You’re not alone,” Cantrell said. “We’re going to give them those resources to go forward.”

And for those who have already chosen abortion volunteers are ready to help them too with post-abortion peer counseling. Statistics suggest 1 in 3 women has had an abortion and the grief doesn’t go away with time, Hogan said.

We still want to be there for them,” Hogan said. “Many women are in church, are Christians and they say, ‘I know God has forgiven me.’ They just can’t forgive themselves. It is neat to see women who have been through that experience and the transformation they go through. It’s a remarkable journey.”

To listen to TAB News’ full interview on the ministry of pregnancy resource centers go to www.thealabamabaptist.org/podcast/pregnancy-care-ministries.