Tag Archives: pregnancy center

Saving lives every day

The Family Research Council‘s new report says pregnancy centers save lives . . .

Peggy Hartshorn

A woman bound for an abortion in New York City recently agreed to an ultrasound at a pregnancy help center. But even after the baby’s perfectly formed image was revealed on the screen, the mother insisted she was still going to keep her abortion appointment.

The distraught pro-life consultant found herself offering something unique to a pregnant mother, something seemingly nonsensical: “Would you like to hold your baby’s hand? Put your hand here.” With a quizzical look on her face, the woman slowly placed her hand on her womb. To the shock of both mom and the consultant, the baby’s tiny hand, visible on the screen, shot up immediately and touched her mother’s hand! In tears, and finally bonded with her baby, the mother chose life.

Pope John Paul II commended the work of pregnancy help centers in Evangelium Vitae: “Newborn life is also served by centers of assistance and homes or centers where new life receives a welcome. Thanks to the work of such centers many … find new hope and find assistance and support ” (#88).

Since he wrote those words in 1995, the number of pregnancy help centers has at least doubled, with nearly 3,000 in the U.S. and another 2,000 around the world. About 40 years after pioneering centers were founded, the first attempt to quantify and describe their impact has been published by the Family Research Council.

I was involved in the research that resulted in A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life. Its conclusions are stunning. For example, the facts show that the pregnancy help movement is one of the greatest volunteer movements in American history: 29 out of 30 people involved (about 40,000 people at any one moment) are volunteers.

These volunteers are impacting about 2 million people every year, about 5,500 people per day. Heartbeat-affiliated centers (about half of all those in the U.S.) save at least 2,000 babies every week whose mothers would otherwise have had an abortion. This decreases the annual number of abortions in the U.S. by about 10%.We reduce abortions even further through our post-abortion care and recovery programs. (Nearly half of all abortions are performed on women who remain unhealed after at least one previous abortion.)

If the budgets of help centers and their affiliated groups are added up, they total $200 million per year. Unfortunately, this is still miniscule compared to the goliath Planned Parenthood, which had a $1 billion budget last year.

Research indicates that pregnancy centers enhance maternal and child health by averting the negative consequences of abortion such as incidences of preterm births. Our centers also help avert the mental health effects of abortion, which include elevated risks of depression, substance abuse and suicide. Our diverse pregnancy support and education programs also enhance maternal health and build stronger families.

passion-mugA Passion to Serve highlights many centers and maternity homes, with pictures and inspirational stories of individual and community impact. Heartbeat of Miami, for example, started as part of Heartbeat International’s Urban Initiative to put ultrasound-equipped centers in the areas of greatest need (Miami had 37 abortion clinics and no pregnancy centers with life-saving ultrasound). These clinics, in Hialeah and North Miami (Hispanic and African American communities, respectively) are each saving about 15 babies every day. These ethnic groups are only about 24% of the U.S. population but, targeted by abortionists, they suffer 56% of all abortions.

At a time when our centers are under increasing attack, with harassment laws already passed against us in Baltimore and the surrounding county, the findings of this report are crucial for defending our life-saving work. Heartbeat’s center directors, with mothers and babies saved by their staff, have hand-delivered copies of A Passion to Serve to key members of Congress. We’re also taking the report to the states where hostile bills are being introduced.

How do we explain the fact that, for the first time in polling history, more than half of Americans describe themselves as pro-life — and 58% of 18-29-year-olds describe abortion as “morally wrong”? It’s certainly the work of the Holy Spirit!

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, in an editorial soon after this year’s March for Life, twice singles out our centers as change agents: “Thousands of pregnancy centers, many of which now offer high resolution sonograms, not around in 1973, along with the unwavering commitment of pro-lifers are winning a new generation to their view.”

Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. is president of Heartbeat International, a member of Legatus’ Board of Governors and chairperson of its Pro-Life Awards Committee. A copy of A Passion to Serve is available by clicking here.

The fine art of saving lives

Mobile Chapter member is a local pro-life hero

Dr. Phillip Madonia sees dozens of women contemplating abortion every year. Their situations may vary, but their desperation is always the same. What makes Madonia stand out is his success rate in changing women’s minds. “I’ve been told that in one year I helped 75 women choose not to abort,” he said. “I have been doing this now for 26 years.”

Pro-life advocates

One factor that helps Madonia — a Legatus member from Mobile — is an Alabama law mandating ultrasounds and fetal development counseling for all abortion-minded women. However, Madonia goes a step further: He assures them that he will take care of them, no matter what their problem is.

“I remember the woman who came to me after she had been advised by her doctor to have an abortion because she had previously had a blood clot,” he explained. “She was scared and upset.”

Madonia told her that she had a complicated pregnancy because of the medicines and testing for the clot.

“I told her that we would do the hard work and have a baby. We did and she did. It was a particular thrill when she delivered. The frightened woman was now a thrilled mother.What an affirmation!” he said.

Madonia and his wife Deborah have been pro-life advocates throughout their 31- year marriage. They both volunteer for a local crisis pregnancy center called 2B Choices for Women, he as a physician and counselor, she as a member of 2B’s advisory board.

Though Madonia didn’t decide to become a doctor with a pro-life ministry in mind, the abortion issue kept surfacing.

“When I applied for my residency in Ob-Gyn, I chose not to apply to hospitals that staff abortion services,” he said. “Performing abortions in training hospitals around the country is a practice that has endured.”

In 1996, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education established guidelines mandating that residency education must include experience with induced abortion, said Madonia, citing the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“As recently as 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encouraged medical schools to include abortion services as a part of the training for all medical schools,” Madonia said.

“A few doctors are actively pro-choice and some do not take a stance at all,” said Madonia, “but many are afraid to say they are pro-life because they are afraid they will be marginalized.”

Holy Spirit counseling

However, being openly pro-life hasn’t hurt Madonia’s career. He is president of Mobile Ob-Gyn with seven other pro-life doctors.

Madonia does not have a set routine when he counsels women, except for praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

“Not all women are the same. They all have different problems and fears,” he explained. “I ask the Holy Spirit to tell me what this particular woman in front of me needs.”

He has never seen a woman who wanted to “kill her baby.” Most simply don’t want to raise a child. They try to convince themselves that what they’re carrying is not a baby, Madonia said.

“I talk about the baby like it’s a living person,” he said. “I talk about the pain abortion brings that will never go away.”

Jerryann Boden, director of 2B Choices for Women, said they send Madonia the hard cases. Since the women all have to do an ultrasound anyway, they all agree to go.

“The best thing about Madonia is that he is usually in four days a week and we can send a woman the same day or the next,” she said.

“He does this with a passion because of his beliefs about abortion,” she added. “Having access to the ultrasound makes him very effective. He’s been a Godsend.”

Mary Cunningham Agee, a member of Legatus’s Napa Chapter and founder of the Nurturing Network, vouches for the importance of ultrasound technology.

“With an ultrasound, the bottom line is, it can’t be theoretical anymore,” she said. “The other side is all about rhetoric and speaking about ‘choice.’ Choice sounds great. We all like choices. But the distortion of choice is license. Once you look at an ultrasound, it’s a human being with a beating heart.”

Madonia’s wife, Deborah, is an adjunct theology lecturer at nearby Spring Hill College in Mobile. She believes her husband’s approach is what makes him so effective.

“I think John Paul II said it best: We must all be courageously pro-woman. We must become a community that is supportive of both mother and baby.Women must know that they are not alone,” she said.

Agee couldn’t agree more.

“One thing I hear in every inquiry — besides the need for resources — is the question: Will I be alone? These women need to know that they will not be alone,” she said.

There are thousands of pro-life counselors across the country, but pro-life doctors are essential to saving unborn children.

“When a woman calls, she’s not looking for a philosophical conversation,” said Agee. “She has immediate problems and needs. One of them is medical. A doctor will be a huge player one way or the other.”

Madonia sticks to the facts when speaking to patients. He tells women about the life they carry, which will grow up to be a child, a teenager, an adult. But most of all, he tells them that they are not alone. He tells them he will walk with them every step of the way. And he means it.

Sabrina Arena-Ferrisi is a staff writer for Legatus Magazine.