Lisa Hogan said every time a woman walks through the doors of Sav-A-Life, staff members have the opportunity to offer hope to both the mother and the baby.
On many days, mothers make a life-affirming choice, and staff members celebrate.
That’s their goal — to empower women with information, counseling and resources so they can make the decision to carry their babies to term.
Sav-A-Life has been working toward that end since 1980, caring for one woman at a time.
It’s one of about 50 other pregnancy resource ministries across Alabama and more than 2,500 nationwide. (Click here to download a list of pregnancy resource centers in Alabama.)
Many times, Sav-A-Life sees women choose to keep their babies and gets the privilege of walking alongside those new mothers, and sometimes the fathers too, with practical help and parenting classes, said Hogan, who serves as executive director of three Sav-A-Life centers in the Birmingham metro area.
‘Honored to serve’
“We are honored to serve the precious women and men God sends our way,” she said. “We fully recognize that not everyone gets to do what we get to do. What a privilege to share the truth of God’s Word and watch transformation occur.”
But Sav-A-Life staff and volunteers sometimes see women walk out the door with plans to get an abortion. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, that means driving to another state to get it.
When that happens, Hogan said she hopes they’ve demonstrated love in such a way that no matter what the woman decides, she’s welcome to come back.
“Do we want them to make a life-affirming decision? Of course we do — we know the long-term consequences of not choosing that,” Hogan said.
“But if they know we genuinely care about them and come back, it’s another opportunity to love them well and share the gospel. We also may be able to prevent an additional abortion.”
One recent client’s story fits that narrative, Hogan said. Pregnant from an affair, the woman was determined to drive to Georgia for a quiet abortion after she left Sav-A-Life.
“She was served well here, and after she went to Georgia, she called back and told the nurse about her experience,” Hogan said.
A place to go
She said the woman described sitting in a room full of around 60 women who had all paid cash to end their pregnancies.
Until it was struck down in November, a Georgia bill prevented a mother from having an abortion if a heartbeat was detected. Six weeks is about as early as a heartbeat can be detected.
The woman told Hogan the staff at the abortion clinic performed a perfunctory ultrasound but didn’t really try to find a heartbeat.
“She went through with the abortion,” Hogan said, “and she said the experience was horrendous and prays God will use her in the future to prevent someone else from going through it.”
Hogan said Sav-A-Life wants to establish that kind of relationship with women so that even if they don’t choose life, the ministry can be part of their post-abortion recovery.
“We give them a place to go if they have complications and can help them with bleeding or screenings if they need them,” she said. “We want them to know we care.”
It’s all part of their overall ministry to offer hope and help. Hogan said their three Sav-A-Life locations in the Birmingham area are busy offering pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD/STI testing, treatment for men and women, educational programs and practical re-sources to support women so that they can choose to deliver and parent their babies.
“With the economy going where it was at one point, we really beefed up our program, even though we already had a robust one,” she said.
The Fultondale location, North Jefferson Women’s Center, gave out more than 7,000 diapers in one month recently, Hogan said.
In October 2022, Sav-A-Life opened a new location on the third floor of the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association building. Hogan said the road to a third Sav-A-Life clinic in the Birmingham area was “such a miracle story.”
Even though the ministry was nearing capacity at its other two Birmingham-area locations — Vestavia and Fultondale — starting a third wasn’t on Hogan’s radar. But in 2021, she got a call from Chris Crain, BMBA executive director, wanting her to come and take a look at their empty third floor.
“It had a completely separate entrance, which is perfect for confidentiality, and it was a blank slate that still needed to be designed,” Hogan said. “It was like God said to me, ‘I’m in control of this.’”
The affirmations just kept coming, she said.
BMBA provided $200,000 for the build-out as well as the architect to do the design, and Shades Mountain Baptist Church and two individual donors also provided some funding. The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions also provided an ultrasound machine through the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Psalm 139 Project, which aims to save lives by providing ultrasounds for expectant mothers across the nation.
“We are now fully open, and it’s growing like crazy,” Hogan said. “We’re open three days a week right now, but hopefully in the next couple of months we will open five days a week.”