Pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are often called “fake clinics” by the media, in an attempt to dissuade women from accessing their services. But these PRCs are led by passionate and dedicated pro-life warriors who meet every woman with compassion and offer life-saving resources, all at no cost to her or her family.
Life Network, a PRC located in Colorado Springs, already has two centers and is looking to open its third location this summer, based on search data, with the hopes of providing 1,000 free ultrasounds per year to women and families in need throughout the community. The Daily Citizen recently had the opportunity to sit down with President/CEO Rich Bennett to discuss how operations have been impacted by COVID, the opening of its new location in Fountain, Colorado and how working in a PRC has amazing highs and lows as well.
“Thankfully we were able to continue our pregnancy care non-stop, even from mid-March last year to now,” Bennett shared.
Though some of it continues to look a bit different, since staff, volunteers and clients have to wear masks, but as a clinic that offers medical grade STD testing and treatment, pregnancy tests and other medical care, the clinics are aware of how to meet and exceed the appropriate medical sanitization standards.
“It just looked a little bit different, relationally, in terms of having to add a layer of masks and all that—but God is good and thankfully we were able to continue those services,” Bennett explained. “Our parenting appointments also continued, and most of them happened over the internet.”
In addition to the clinical services offered, Bennett and his team also offer parenting classes for both women and men.
“Once they choose to parent, we are going to journey with them until their child is two, and those appointments happened even at the height of the pandemic, but via video,” Bennett said. “Now, thankfully, a year later we’re able to be back in person, and I think everybody is thankful for that.”
But sometimes great innovations happen in the midst of challenges. Bennett explained that now instead of taking snow days or cancelling an appointment because of a sick child, connections can now be made over video so that a woman in need or someone in the parenting class can still reach out, even if she or he can’t physically make it into the clinic that day.
That personal connection is incredibly important, especially when lives are at stake. Earlier in the pandemic season, Bennett said his team saw more abortion-minded women, but despite that increase, still 85% chose life, which is consistent with the percentage before the pandemic.
It shows that the stress of last year did not lessen the impact of a woman meeting her baby via ultrasound for the first time.
“I would say particularly April, May, June and through the summer last year, the number of clients on a percentage basis who were abortion-minded or abortion-determined, was a little bit higher than usual,” Bennett shared. “And so, I do think either the threat of losing a job or maybe their hours were pulled back a little bit at the job that they had caused more women to consider an abortion.”
Usually, about half of the women who walk through the door of Life Network are abortion-minded—but, thankfully, that didn’t have much impact on the percentage of women choosing abortion.
“I think it was actually pretty consistent. Our centers were blessed to see 85% of the time that when a client met her baby via ultrasound, she chooses life and that’s of all the clients that we see. And so, across our two centers last year, pandemic and everything else, we were able to provide 716 ultrasounds.”
Life Network has been an integral part of the Colorado Springs community since 1983.
“Our mission is to cultivate a community that values life, and to do that through the love of Christ,” Bennett said. “We principally do that three ways, through prevention, intervention and transformation.”
On the prevention side, Life Network offers the community sexual risk avoidance education, which teaches young people and teenagers about safe relationships and the true risks and impacts of STDs, something they won’t learn from Planned Parenthood. They also offer STD testing and treatment to people who need it.
Bennett shared, “We’re blessed to have five staff nurses who do those appointments, as well as our pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.
“And that kind of brings me to the intervention part of what we do, what we’re probably best known for in this pro-life pregnancy resource center arena, and that’s intervening on behalf of young women and men who are facing unexpected pregnancies. It’s one of the things that’s really been integral for us.”
The top two ways that someone visits Life Network is through either word of mouth, a friend who’s shared about their own positive experience, or via the internet. What Life Network and other pro-life pregnancy resource centers do is buy what’s called Google Ad Words, which allows businesses and organizations to essentially buy their way to the top of a page when someone Googles a particular topic. It allows them to interact with young women in a way they might not be able to otherwise, and they often compete with abortion providers in order to do it.
“We just help them see what all three of their options look like, either parenting, making an adoption plan or talking through an abortion with them, knowing that for almost half of our clients that is very much on their minds,” he explained. “Talking about the implications of all those options and the fact that that we’re really going to be there alongside them, regardless of their decision.”
For those who decide to pursue abortion, Life Network is still there and offers post-abortive counseling. The most recent class have women who range in age from early 20s to someone in their 70s.
“And so, the transformation that happens, of just feeling that weight, and that guilt from a past abortion, and realizing that through Christ there’s forgiveness and that is pretty profound.”
They also provide parenting classes and parenting mentors who work with the women and their families until the child is two, sharing the love of Christ along the way.
“The two other transformations we see are helping overwhelmed parents who, in most cases, did not have great parenting role models and helping them become confident, equipped and God-honoring parents. Of course, the ultimate transformation is seeing clients make decisions for Christ, and last year we had 63 clients do that.”
Though oftentimes much of the focus is placed on the young, expecting mothers, men are also happily welcomed into the Life Network family.
“We will have some young women bring in the father of the baby, and he’s there in our waiting room looking anxious and uncomfortable,” Bennett said. “He may not realize it, but we want him to feel like he’s a client too. Whether he knows it or not, he has an appointment as well. And so, we are blessed to have two, soon to be three guys, on staff, and then about 20 volunteers who are trained as fatherhood coaches.”
Most of these young men usually don’t have a great father figure at home, so the inclusion of a fatherhood coach really serves to provide these men the confidence that they need to become great fathers.
“I remember being at the graduation of one of our young guys, and he told me, he wouldn’t be in that room, let alone still with the mother of his baby, if God hadn’t brought his coach Rob into his life.”
The young man had not only helped raise his two-year-old child but had married the child’s mother and the two were expecting another child, this time a planned pregnancy.
Bennett shared, “And so, we really get to see profound transformation in terms of young men who were completely overwhelmed and buying sort of a lie of the enemy that they couldn’t do it—and through somebody pouring into them realizing that by God’s grace they can.”
As Life Network prepares to open its third location, Bennett is prayerful that they can continue to reach out to young women and young men, especially the young military families out in the community
“You know, somebody asked me just yesterday what’s my greatest challenge as the leader of Life Network, and for me I really think that it’s making sure we care for the team that does the work well every day, because we have high highs of young people choosing to parent and seeing incredible transformation there. And we also have low lows,” Bennett said.
“I was talking with one of our nurses, just within the last month, who heard back from a client who had chosen to go ahead with her abortion appointment. There was just kind of a heaviness that hit her. She said to me, ‘You know, I just realized that the mom and myself will be the only people on this side of heaven that will ever meet and see that baby.’ Those are hard moments.
“I think just praying for grace and peace in the wake of often really challenging situations and appointments is critical.”
Photo from Life Network