Planned Parenthood, due often to its massive coffers, has an undue influence on society and how women see their pregnancies and abortion. Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are trying to push against that and show women, couples and families how they can manage an unexpected pregnancy.
Staffed by passionate pro-life nurses, administrators, office workers and volunteers, PRCs are on the front lines when it comes to encouraging and helping women and couples explore life-affirming options for a pregnancy by showing them the reality of life inside the womb through ultrasounds.
Recently, The Daily Citizen had the opportunity to sit down with two nurses working at the Colorado Springs PRC, Life Network, during a local fundraising event.
“I got involved because of my daughter,” nurse Lisa Rust said. “She was working for Young Life and I was at home at the time, homeschooling my youngest daughter, and she said, ‘Mom, they need nurses.’
Rust helps by providing ultrasounds to expectant women and couples and has a front row seat to see how an ultrasound can change the perspective of abortion-minded individuals.
“Most moms and dads are surprised. We can often get a heartbeat as early as five weeks six days. At that point, a baby looks just like a little ring with a beat, like a wiggle,” Rust said.
“So, they just don’t realize that at that early, they can see the heartbeat of their baby. Oftentimes it’s surprise, a lot of tears. Even tears with young men, who are seeing their baby for the first time. It never gets old, it’s always so amazing and incredible to see those babies for the first time. I love it.”
The importance of life and being pro-life has been part of Lisa’s life since 1987, when she went to a Walk for Life in Washington D.C.
“It’s always been on my heart to be part of something like Life Network. I love that we’re not just saying, we’re encouraging you to keep your baby. We’re telling you that we’re going to walk with you through pregnancy, and for two years afterwards,” she said. “We’re trying to support in any way that we can.”
Life Network does this by offering coaching opportunities and helping women set up their nurseries through baby bucks, a program that provides women with clinic currency they can use to purchase clothing and other baby items from their store. They also offer parenting classes for two years.
For the young women who end up choosing abortion, Life Network and many other PRCs provide post-abortion counseling to help these women and young men come to terms with their decision.
“We’re supporting them in so many ways.”
One particular story that came to Lisa’s mind is that of a young woman who initially visited Life Network and then ended up taking the abortion pill and believing that she actually had an abortion. As it turns out, either it wasn’t effective or she had twins and one child was successfully aborted. Either way, she came back to Life Network in order to take advantage of the organization’s maternity closet, which allows women to choose two pants and shirts each month.
“That’s what reconnected us. We got to walk with her through the latter half of her pregnancy. She’s either just had her baby or is due any minute.
Rust continued, “On the other side of that, we had a young woman come in for the abortion pill reversal. She realized that she had been involved with two different guys, and discovered it was one guy and not the other. She then turned around and chose abortion. My heart is still hurting from that one, because she made the effort to come to reverse it.”
This is the challenge that many PRCs face, but post-abortion counseling is always available to those women and men who need it.
“The thing that keeps us going and what we have to remember is that it’s not up to us, it’s up to God. We come together every morning to pray and recognize that we need God’s help as we move into our day. We see amazing things happen.”
Oftentimes, it’s as simple as God orchestrating the day by putting staff members and clients together in a surprising way and allowing connections to happen. Recently, Laurie Smoak, another staff nurse, was asked to go in with a client. Well, as it turns out, the client is a twin and Laurie is a triplet, allowing them to connect in a special way.
These unique connections are critical to spurring opportunities to both speak into these women’s lives and to share the Gospel.
“It’s just a magical type of thing that can happen in a short period of time, and gaining the right to speak into their lives,” Rust said.
Laurie Smoak is a newer staff member and started at Life Network after having volunteered at a PRC years earlier in Virginia.
“I love the sense of unity and purpose that we have, provided by the Holy Spirit, to move and advance the Kingdom of God in this city,” Smoak said. “Also, the level of love and passion for this work. From Rich Bennett (Life Network’s President/CEO) all the way down, it doesn’t matter. Meeting people where they’re at in times of crisis and need and walking along side of them. Even if they make the choice to choose abortion, we don’t leave them out in the cold, we follow up and call them and minister to them, meeting not only their physical needs, but their spiritual and emotional needs as well.”
There were a couple of recent interactions that stuck out to Smoak.
One was a young couple viewing their ultrasound for the first time.
“We had an abortion minded client that came in. A lot of time they’re pressured by the family and, in this case, pressured by the boyfriend. She invited him in to see the ultrasound, and he just had tears running down his face. They were young and scared, and he was very scared. We hooked him up with the fatherhood program, and the mentor program for young dads, and they decided that they were going to move forward with parenting.
“Just to see the reality of that little life in the womb did it.”
Another was an exit survey, where a client simply wrote something to the effect of, “It’s actually a human or it’s really a human.”
And that’s the power of an ultrasound, and that’s why it’s so important that PRCs like Life Network and others have access to such important technology. Not only regular ultrasounds, but 3D and 4D ultrasounds as well.
Seeing the life inside the womb is completely life changing for parents and encourages many to seek out life-affirming options, and to not go down the abortion path.
Option Ultrasound is a Focus on the Family program that provides ultrasounds to PRCs across the country that meet certain criteria. You can find more information about that program here.