I first notice the smiling staff woman working the desk, and I next notice she is pregnant. Facing these two lives joined by one body, I am immediately reminded of the reason(s) this place exists. We have just entered the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) in Charlotte, NC, and the contrast between the smiling faces of all the women I meet and the reason they are here becomes an unsettling but necessary disjunct.
Real estate employees once used this building for selling property before the structure became home to the PRC. Our grand tour winds its way through offices, counseling rooms, a place to store baby clothes and goods, and a small kitchen area for the saintly staff. At a small table in the small kitchen-esque room, my associate pastor Sean McCann leads the devotions at 9:15am. He turns to Judges and gives an encouraging word—God uses the weak to do great things. Though these PRC women must be among the most psychologically strong women on the planet, the forces opposing them make Sean’s encouraging words most appropriate.
While taking the tour, we hear stories and stats. Our guide, Erin, mentioned in passing that among those women who receive ultrasounds, 70% choose life for their unborn child. The biggest abortion mill in Charlotte puts a $140 price tag on their ultrasound service, but the PRC offers them for free. And they do not merely sit and wait to see who takes them up on that offer; they have a mobile unit.
The mobile unit of the PRC offers hope, encouragement, life, but also danger. Often only two women drive the re-appropriated RV to the abortion clinic, surrounded by pro-abortion hired bodyguards for abortion-minded mothers and their supporters. Our pro-life center does not have the funding that abortion mills have, so you won’t see bodyguards for the PRC female staff on what can often be a mission filled with unknown elements. The pro-life warrior-drivers can face peripheral, unexpected hurdles from within a neighborhood filled with typical challenges from inner-city life.
You may have heard stories of enthusiastic pro-lifers, probably with good intentions, standing outside abortion mills with gruesome, disturbing, but pictorially accurate images of aborted babies. While that approach may have at times dissuaded someone who is abortion-minded away from following through with the procedure, the PRC takes an alternative approach. They make efforts to focus on the positive—specifically, the desired outcome of life for the baby, and the rescue afterlife for both the baby and the mother. To my ears, this seemed to be a refreshing, helpful approach.
We find tangible, encouraging signs in the PRC basement. The door opens to about sixty baskets filled with clothes and other baby essentials ready to go out the door and into about sixty new mothers’ homes. The items today have been donated by a local church, and this generosity happens regularly enough to trigger an unqualified smile from those of us in the room.
A few desks filled the counseling room, with phones at each station waiting to be the line between life and death for the babies on the far end of the conversations. A counseling coach sits at one end of the room, and she makes sure these conversations go well, because no one has to say out loud that the stakes here are as high as it gets. The PRC has also recently broadened its reach by using technology that increases the amount of cold calls it receives from women who have no patience for anything but an abortion on demand. Those calls are the scariest, and those calls go through a dedicated phone line to a dedicated staff member trained to walk the mother, and by proxy her own child, back off the abortion ledge. I find myself at multiple times wanting to expel an outburst of, “You are all saving lives every day! How can you be so nice and normal? And you’re doing it against a tide of opposition that continually seeks to offer up millions of child sacrifices to an abstract notion of ‘Choice’!” But I refrain.
The PRC shows compassion in an intelligent way. Abortion-minded mothers have different needs, both physically and emotionally, from post-abortive mothers. Baby clothes produce a reaction of hope for some, a reaction of despair and grief for others, so those kinds of symbolic tangibles appear only in the appropriate rooms. Thought and care go into every detail.
As we circle back to make our exit, the buzz and hum of life outside this building prompts a range of conflicting internal responses. Life buzzes outside these doors. Each person who drives by, each employee in the windows of neighboring businesses, was given a chance for that life. I doubt a similar thought runs through the minds of the people I see, because I must admit it seldom enters my mind. But the women and men who work at the PRC, both staff and volunteers, have elected to face that reality throughout the bulk of every week.
I can only end in the most obvious way—by urging you, the reader, to seek out a similar facility within your context. I waited too long in my life simply to gas up the car, make the drive, and pay a visit to see if there is anything I can do to help this cause, these people, and countless unseen, unborn babies. Churches can support local PRC’s financially and by gathering baby necessities. Individuals can offer help in many ways, sometimes by merely being an added physical presence in places where pro-life numbers are faint, compared to the high pro-abortion volume. Let’s get out there.