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Healthy Tomorrows: Revisioning pregnancy care ministry

By: Michele Shoun

Minnie ZhouAs the abortion debate rages and all sides gear up for the prospect that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, the work of pregnancy care centers continues just as it has for the last 40+ years. While much of the attention these days is devoted to the politics of abortion―efforts to pass legislation to either legalize abortion throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy or to ban it after a baby’s heartbeat is detected―over one million young women will face a decision about a pregnancy this year. 

Too many will choose to abandon motherhood and pay a doctor to end the life of their baby. While detractors and supporters of Planned Parenthood fight to defund or continue taxpayer funding for America’s largest abortion provider, 2,000 babies each day will have their lives cut short. 

Since the 1980s, reaching abortion-vulnerable women has been at the forefront of pregnancy care center (PCC) ministry. As a result, thousands of women have been spared the heartache and regret of abortion, and thousands of babies spared a premature death. However, in the last several decades the way women deal with unexpected pregnancies has changed. 

The increased use of abortion medications and the aggressive marketing of abortion to young women by doctors, the media and groups such as Planned Parenthood has made it more difficult for the PCC movement to reach them. Unfortunately, too many women facing an unexpected or unwelcome pregnancy and seriously considering abortion most often do not seek help from a pregnancy care center. She is more likely to seek information and referral from her primary care doctor or an organization that provides or refers for medical services, including abortion. 

Few life-affirming pregnancy care centers are equipped to provide medical services to a pregnant woman who can be persuaded to carry her pregnancy to term. Most PCCs rely on the few doctors willing to provide a limited amount of pro bono maternity care, but this is seldom guaranteed since most ob/gyn physicians are employed by large health systems that prevent them from providing pro bono or reduced cost care. Consequently, many women who might otherwise reconsider a decision to terminate a pregnancy are lost to abortionists.

The lack of medical services beyond pregnancy testing, ultrasound, and STI testing and treatment emboldens abortion advocates to attack pregnancy care centers and paint them as “fake clinics” who “lure women into sessions filled with lies about abortion.” Many in the media use their voice to denounce pregnancy care centers and some states have even sought to force pregnancy centers to post signs telling clients they do not counsel, refer for or perform abortions. Planned Parenthood regularly publishes materials aimed at high school and college age women that warn them to stay away from pregnancy care centers, asserting that they do not provide medical services.

What's the solution?

How would you like to shut the mouths of the critics? How would you like to make pregnancy care centers even more effective in reaching and caring for more abortion-vulnerable women? How would you like to provide a healthy tomorrow for women and their babies? That is what Healthy Tomorrows is all about.

Healthy Tomorrows is a collaborative strategic initiative involving Christian Healthcare Centers and pregnancy care centers whose objective is to reach more abortion-vulnerable women through the provision of life-affirming medical services before, during and after pregnancy. Through its employed medical staff, Christian Healthcare Centers provides free medical services to PCC clients, some of which can be delivered in the pregnancy centers. 

Medical services include prenatal care, labor and delivery, the full scope of women’s health (including gynecological procedures and surgeries) and well-child medical care. Try to find an abortion clinic or Planned Parenthood that provides that! Best of all: these services are provided without government funding. 

Who is Christian Healthcare Centers? 

Formed in 2015 and providing medical services since 2017, CHC is a Michigan-based not-for-profit medical services organization whose medical staff includes obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine and internal medicine. Unlike federally-qualified community health clinics, CHC receives no government funding, has no insurance contracts and serves a growing and socio-economically diverse patient population. CHC can provide medical services to the clients, staff and supporters of a PCC, thereby continuing the legacy of Christian medical ministry that has existed since the first century.

How it works

PCC clients who meet eligibility criteria are enrolled in the Healthy Tomorrows program through their participating pregnancy center. If the client is pregnant, she receives the full range of maternity care without cost to her. If she has eligible children in the home, they will have access to CHC pediatric care. 

Following the birth of her child, she will retain access to ongoing well-woman and well-child care. By including medical services with the PCC’s existing support services, the relationship with clients is enhanced and the PCC staff gains the opportunity to continue its ministry in her life. Furthermore, the profile of the PCC within their community is significantly enhanced.

Funding

Christian Healthcare Centers is bearing the cost of launching the program through grants and contributions, however, the long-term vision is to make it self-sustaining through the addition of more locations and the growth of CHC’s MemberCare program (read more about CHC at www.chcenters.org). Simply stated, if pro-life people are willing to spend their healthcare dollars at a CHC in their community, there will be more than enough money to support Healthy Tomorrows.

The pilot

Healthy Tomorrows will launch in September 2019 in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area and serve six pregnancy care centers. This pilot program will help to perfect the model so it can be duplicated in other communities. To learn more about a Healthy Tomorrows in your community, contact Mark Blocher, President/CEO of Christian Healthcare Centers at info@chcenters.org.

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