Evangelical Christians say they are stepping up efforts to provide high-tech ultrasound machines to more than 2,700 pregnancy resource centers, faith-based outposts that counsel women in crisis pregnancy situations across the country.
The devices, which can cost $30,000 to $40,000 apiece, are credited with helping change the minds of many women committed to abortion, pro-lifers say.
Leading the effort are Focus on the Family and the Psalm 139 Project, a long-term initiative of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Psalm 139 Project said in June that it had raised $1.5 million to buy 50 machines.
Robin Chambers, executive director of child advocacy at Focus on the Family, said that “almost 60 percent of women who are truly determined to have an abortion will change their mind and choose life” after seeing an ultrasound image of the fetus and have one-on-one counseling.
“We hear from the centers that they have clients who come in and say, ‘I have an abortion scheduled later in the week. … You have one chance to talk me out of it,” Ms. Chambers said. “‘Decided abortion’ could mean that this woman searched online, [and] she knows exactly what she’s going to do.
She marveled at the “amazing” evolution of technology, from analogue devices producing “grainy-looking photos” to 3D and 4D scans.
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“It’s like watching a video of your child. Baby skin, you know it all. You can see the definition,” Ms Chambers said. “Depending on the gestational age, you can see the baby move and suck his thumb, and you can see him frown or pout.”
Getting ultrasound machines is a task. Five-figure price tags depend on the complexity and features of a machine, and then there’s the cost of training clinical workers to use the units properly.
The costs of serving pregnant women in crisis situations can increase. Heidi Matzke, executive director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, Calif., told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that her group spends $1 million a year helping clients who are never billed for ultrasounds or other services.
“Ironically, many of our patients are referred to us by a well-known abortion provider,” Ms. Matzke said in prepared remarks. “A woman comes to them for an ultrasound, but this provider is unwilling to do one on a woman who is still undecided about aborting her child. So they send her to us because we offer the ultrasound for free … regardless of what the woman decides to do with her baby.
The Psalm 139 Project, named after the biblical passage that speaks of God forming the writer “in my mother’s womb,” has long worked to equip pro-life centers with the devices.
The Rev. Richard Land, a former president of the ERLC who started the Psalm 139 project years ago, told The Washington Times that the ministry began placing the machines in clinics to help women assess their situation.
“Once they see that sonogram, they’re much, much less likely to miscarry,” Mr. Land said. “It reminds me of my old professor at Princeton, Paul Ramsey, who said that if wombs had windows, abortions wouldn’t exist.”
Seeing an image of the child “certainly makes it more difficult when you have a ‘window’ in the womb.” And sonogram machines are pretty good pictures.
ERLC Interim President Rev. Brent Leatherwood said the equipment delivery effort is “a ministry that comes alongside these pro-life clinics, and we put these machines and the training needed to operate these machines and pro-life clinics In the whole country. country.”
Now that the Supreme Court has returned the legislative decision on abortion regulations to the states, “this program is going to become even more important,” Mr. Leatherwood said. “Because while there are some states that will take action to end abortion, we also recognize that there will be several states that don’t.”
He said that “pro-life clinics … will be on the front lines of serving vulnerable women and families in crisis. And that’s why we’re eager to join forces with these clinics and provide them with the resources they need to save the lives of these unborn children.”