When the medical mobile clinic pulls up in front of Planned Parenthood each week in St. Louis, the nation’s largest abortion provider is not pleased, to say the least.
The clinic provides free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds on sight.
According to Diane Vaughn, who serves as nurse manager, Planned Parenthood is consistently calling the police on them to make sure all their permits are up to date. Vaughn is on staff with Thrive St. Louis, a Christ-centered organization that empowers people to make life-affirming and healthy decisions about sex, pregnancy and relationships.
“Sidewalk counselors can now offer much more than words,” said Beverly VanMeans, president of Thrive. “They can offer support and then direct them to the mobile medical center without waiting for services. It results in saved lives every time we’re there.”
More than 1,000 babies have been saved through pregnancy tests and life-saving ultrasounds. “We served over 4,000 clients last year,” VanMeans said.
Thrive also has an abstinence program called “Best Choice,” which is presented in middle schools and high schools. Last year the program served more than 11,000 students.
These efforts have been made possible through the work of the Missouri Knights of Columbus. Several years ago, under the direction of the Supreme Council of the Knights, the ultrasound initiative was launched.
According to John Applebaum, who serves as the Missouri state deputy for the Knights of Columbus, the national organization of the Knights agrees to pay 50% of the cost of each ultrasound machine placed in a pregnancy-resource center.
He added that the Missouri Knights expanded on that program with the establishment of the Meet Life campaign. The campaign’s goal is to reduce abortions in Missouri by 50% by the end of 2016. The Knights’ efforts in Missouri are supported by the Vitae Foundation, too, an educational organization focused on using a research-based multimedia platform to educate the public about the value and sanctity of human life.
“Our hope is that through the Vitae Foundation’s multimedia marketing strategies we can bring women into these pregnancy centers,” Applebaum said.
VanMeans has nothing but praise for the efforts of the Missouri Knights. “The Knights’ commitment to the sanctity of human life, their energy, commitment and ability to leverage efforts to accomplish big goals is amazing,” she said. “Their sense of brotherhood and commitment to Christ is also super.”
Vaughn’s favorite story from the mobile clinic is about a young woman who saw the clinic on her way to the store. She said that God must have had her going to the store with her mom so she could go to the pro-life clinic: “She was soon connected to one of Thrive’s maternity homes and one of our case managers.”
“I’m so glad I came here instead of Planned Parenthood. You all were much more helpful (than Planned Parenthood),” the young woman stated. “Where do you all come from? I think you all literally dropped from heaven. Why doesn’t Planned Parenthood show you this model of a 6-week-old baby? Is it because they don’t want you to know the truth?”
It is these kinds of stories that give the Missouri Knights great hope.
“We know that our strategy is working, as the number of abortions in 2010 in Missouri was the lowest since Roe v. Wade (took effect) in 1973,” said Applebaum. “As well, Planned Parenthood has quit performing abortions on Thursdays because Thrive has their mobile clinic parked across the street from them.”
As Applebaum explained, “We believe our goal of reducing abortions in our state is being achieved, and we believe other states can use this campaign effectively.”
Eddie O’Neill writes from Green Bay, Wisconsin.