What if a mother considering abortion were introduced to her child by means of a sonogram? What if she were able to actually see her baby moving around inside her womb before making that final and fateful decision? Imagine the dramatic drop in abortions that would take place across this nation if mothers could see their children. Such is the goal of the Psalm 139 Project.
The Project, administered by the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, seeks to create an awareness of the value of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations and to provide a way for individuals to give to a fund that places ultrasound machines in qualified pregnancy care centers.
"If wombs had windows, people would be much more reticent to abort babies because they would be forced to confront the evident humanity of the baby from very early gestation onward," ERLC President Richard Land said, noting sonograms provide a "window into the womb."
"Pregnant mothers who see their babies on sonograms are going to be far more likely to carry their baby to term," Land added. "Ultrasound machines save babies' lives."
Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, one out of every three babies conceived has been aborted, according to the Psalm 139 Project.
More than 75 percent of women in a crisis pregnancy who are given a glimpse of the life within them choose life, but this is only possible when women can go to a pregnancy resource center with an ultrasound machine, Land emphasized, estimating that less than 33 percent of all U.S. centers have access to ultrasound technology and a trained operator on site.
"Sonogram machines are very expensive and most crisis pregnancy centers lack the funds needed to buy the equipment or have the necessary medical personnel on staff to have ultrasound machines," he said.
Terry Williams, executive director of the Central Texas Life Center in San Marcos, Texas, told Baptist Press she hears many pastors note that their local pregnancy center already has an ultrasound machine.
"I say, 'Well, if your center has one, there are probably ten or twenty that don't.' I have an ultrasound machine [at my local center], but there are two centers within a twenty-mile radius of me that don't have one. If we all had one, think of what we could do in terms of saving lives," she said.
Focus on the Family has estimated that about 2,300 pregnancy resource centers exist in the United States, and more than half of them are in need of sonogram machines in order to show women the life within them.
Williams said she is encouraging pastors to visit their local pregnancy care centers and inquire about whether a sonogram machine is needed. The center would be able to work with the pastor to determine the cost of such a machine and how to get one, and the pastor could lead his church in raising funds to purchase it.
"How incredible a gift that would be," Williams said. "That Southern Baptist church could be the catalyst for saving babies' lives."
The ERLC has partnered with The Heidi Group for the Psalm 139 Project. Founded by pro-life leader Carol Everett, The Heidi Group is named for the daughter Everett would have had if she had not aborted the baby years ago.
"The Heidi Group started out of my sin," she told Baptist Press. "I had a termination and came to own the largest pregnancy termination clinic in Dallas. But I came to know Christ twenty years ago. I wasted the first part of my life, and now I'd like to see the last part of my life count by helping save babies."
In addition to being a ministry to save babies, Everett said, the Psalm 139 Project is an outreach to girls and women who need to know Christ.
"This isn't a fight, it's a missionfield," she said of the effort to change lives through sonogram use.
"My hope is for Southern Baptists to become involved and see this as a missionary outreach and to get their churches involved and to put sonogram machines in pregnancy centers," Everett said. "We know that these [machines] save lives, but we also know that women take better care of themselves during pregnancy. We know that 10 to 30 percent of the girls who walk through the door of a pregnancy center come to Christ. That's a real life change."
For more information about the work of Carol Everett and The Heidi Group, visit www.heidigroup.org.
God Provided a Way to Stop Abortions
by Karen Cole
When Steve Faith, ministry evangelism director for the Southeastern Indiana Baptist Association, asked himself in December 2003 if there was a need for a pregnancy center in New Albany, just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky, he had no idea that the Lord would answer so quickly or provide so abundantly.
"Two high schools in our Tri-County area seem to always have a number of pregnant teens, and there are two places to get an abortion in Louisville, which is just a few minutes away," he said. "I just wondered what our ministry role might be in those circumstances.
"I started making calls and sharing my heart for hurting women and girls and my vision for a pregnancy center. I found eight physicians who would be willing to work with a center as referring physicians .... I kept praying and asking people if they'd be willing to help. By March our board was in place — fourteen people including pastors, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals."
God continued to carefully put the pieces together with more provisions.
"Our director, Rose Condra, had been working full-time at one of our local churches, but she felt God calling her to work with women in crisis pregnancies. She had worked in a maternity home and two different pregnancy centers in Louisville," Faith said. He went on to say that Condra has a heart for Jesus, for these mothers, for evangelism. The board knew immediately that she was God's appointed person for this job.
"We held a banquet in April and raised $14,000. Lori Devillez from The Heidi Group trained the director, the board members, and twenty-eight volunteers in August, and we had our grand opening September 1," he said. "We were able to rent a beautiful building, and every piece of furniture and equipment in it has been donated — everything! And we have an ultrasound machine provided by the Psalm 139 Project. The Lord surely has blessed us!"
Sandi Butler, the center's sonographer, said the experiences she has while intervening in troubled pregnancies are priceless.
"I've been doing this for twenty-five years, and the look on a mother's face when she sees the reality of her baby still is hard for me to describe," she said. "Sharing my skills in situations like these and trying to help these ladies make the proper decision is worth its weight in gold to me."
Condra also is seeing God's grace firsthand.
"An older woman had a young friend whom she knew had made an appointment for an abortion. The woman asked her friend to put it off one day until they could talk to me," Contra said. "The older woman and her husband brought their young friend to the center. We talked at some length about the life choices she had made and the hope that she could have by trusting Jesus. She accepted the Lord and decided to keep her baby that day. She came in with a dark cloud and left with the joy of the Lord."