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Pregnancy support centers on the front line in the fight against abortion

 

"Am I pregnant again?" asked the young lady as she sat across from the nurse at Alpha Pregnancy Care Center in Hopkinsville.

Marina Shelton

Amanda Westerfield, director of Alpha since 2016, explained that they see about 25 clients each month, a third of whom are abortion minded. But this one was different. This woman was coming for a visit after taking the abortion pill. It had been a few months and she had just received another positive pregnancy test.

"When our nurse did the ultrasound, she saw a 15-week-old baby who had survived that abortion pill," said Westerfield. "We hear about those stories, but now there's a little local boy (in Hopkinsville) who survived an abortion. God definitely has a plan for his life and for his mom's life as well," she said.

Alpha Pregnancy Care Center was able to continue a relationship with this mom and miracle baby, who is now a happy 2-year-old.

This story is just one of the many life-changing moments that pregnancy care centers get to engage in each year, explained Westerfield.

More than 40 centers like Alpha Pregnancy Care Center stand on the front lines of Kentucky Baptist pro-life causes around the state.

"I got pregnant with my son when I was 18," said Devin Dukes, another client at Alpha.

"When I found out I was pregnant, I went to have an ultrasound done at Alpha Pregnancy Care Center. They showed me some options I could choose from. I was going to get an abortion because I felt like I was a disappointment to my parents, and I couldn't do that.

"I went to the abortion clinic, paid the fee and sat in the clinic. My mother tried to ask me if this is what I wanted, but it wasn't until my dad asked me the same question that I started crying. I knew I just couldn't go through with the abortion. After we left, I started researching people that help in the community and I remembered Alpha," said Dukes.

One of the primary roles of pregnancy centers like Alpha is to "make sure women facing an unplanned pregnancy are able to make a decision so they won't look back in 10 years and regret it," said Westerfield. Educating women accurately on all their options is a major part of that, she said.

Lisa Holland, executive director of HOPE Clinic in Benton, Ky., said, "When a client comes to the clinic thinking she might be pregnant, we can administer a pregnancy test and ultrasound. We then share how we are prepared to be with her through the coming months with help and support."

"There have been many amazing stories in the 20 years I have been here," she noted. "Several relate to the time a pregnant client sees her baby on the ultrasound screen for the first time. She often realizes at that moment that she wants to choose life for that child — he or she is a part of her!" said Holland.

But the role of the pregnancy center doesn't stop at the mother's decision to choose life, said Westerfield. "We want to help women in their pregnancy and beyond that. We want to show them love first and foremost — that we aren't just there for that baby, we're there for them."

"When I first started going there, I would watch videos that helped me learn about infants all the way up to potty training. When you watch videos, you earn 'mommy bucks' for different things that can be used to purchase baby items you will need," said Dukes.

"We never want the financial aspect to be a reason why they don't choose life. We want to help as much as we can," said Westerfield.

"A great sense of accomplishment and thankfulness comes when a young mother comes in for material assistance and finishes the program know- ing that she has invested her time to become a better mother. When she walks out our doors with an arm full of things for her baby, she is glowing with pride that she was able to provide for her child," Holland said.

Pregnancy Center story 2

Westerfield also spoke of the online classes the agency conducted during COVID to ensure expecting mothers still get the care, training and connection they need in this time of uncertainty.

Alpha is always ready to help the community, even if a person is not involved in its program. For example, during COVID Alpha has had diaper giveaways

— "people drive through and get a box of diapers, and that was for everyone in the community," said Dukes.

Beyond meeting physical needs, pregnancy care centers' primary desire is to meet the spiritual needs of their clients and point them to Jesus Christ. "If there is an opportunity for a spiritual conversation, we always have that. We always offer to pray for our clients. We know how important the spiritual aspect is to abortion and to parenting in general," said Westerfield.

"We build relationships with our clients during the classes. This is a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Christ with each client. They build trust in us, which allows us the opening to plant a seed, and sometimes they leave knowing Christ as their Savior," said Holland.

"There are also options for clients to participate in Bible studies to grow them in their faith," explained Westerfield.

"Every week (in Bible study), I ask to pray with them before we close the session. I give them the liberty to leave before the prayer if they wish — but I have never had one leave. Every time I pray, I ask that each one of the girls will learn to accept God's love and mercy. I want them to know that God's love can transform each of them," said Kathy Day, a client advocate at the HOPE Clinic.

"Three or four girls have felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit and have felt led to accept His salvation while in the class, and hopefully, many seeds have been planted that will lead to a relationship with Christ in the future. It is very rewarding to see how God is using HOPE Clinic to make a difference in the lives of these girls and their families," said Day.

Community churches are crucial supporters of pregnancy care centers, in more ways than one, Westerfield affirmed. The centers connect clients with local churches as they grow in their walk with Christ.

"We have advocates (at each church) that will come alongside them and want to invest in their life. We have so many churches in our area that give and support what we do. We can't do what we do without the support of our churches," said Westerfield.

Dukes is just one of the many clients for whom a pregnancy care center has made a difference. "I have been in contact with Alpha for over two years now. They helped me put my faith in God and allowed Him to enter my and my son's lives.

"Alpha is honestly the best thing that happened to me. I met some of the best people there. They helped me become the person I am today," she said. "The HOPE Clinic was the best thing throughout my pregnancy," said Kelsey, a former client. "From answering all my questions to supporting me in every way, they were always a phone call away and an extra set of prayers. They will always be family for me and my baby."


Marina Shelton is social media and web associate of the Kentucky Baptist Convention

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