When Christine Sands of the Bronx found herself pregnant last year, she began to feel like she had no future. Or, at least, not the kind of happy and simple future she had always imagined for herself.
For those close to her, the reaction wasn’t hard to understand. After all, she was only 16 years old.
“I was kind of confused,” Sands told the Register. “I still have school to deal with.”
Acting on the encouragement of family members and friends, she went to an abortion business near her home. There she learned that she couldn’t have the procedure until she obtained the proper paperwork.
Then a funny thing happened on her way through the system. Sands encountered volunteers from Expectant Mother Care, a pregnancy-resource organization headquartered in Yonkers, N.Y., and numerous offices in greater New York City. They talked to her about her non-abortive options. Sands allowed herself to listen.
She also allowed Expectant Mother Care to take ultrasound pictures of her baby and show the images to her — right then and there.
Expectant Mother Care has been offering women free sonograms in front of New York City abortion businesses since 1985, several years before Sands was born. Staff and volunteers meet the women outside abortion businesses and invite them inside a 32-foot converted mobile home outfitted with ultrasound equipment.
Even as she sat inside the mobile unit, Sands says, she remained uncertain about whether to go inside the abortion business or carry the pregnancy to term. The waffling lasted only until she saw her baby’s first picture.
“I was 18 weeks,” she says. “She was growing already. That made me really think, ‘You can’t get an abortion, not for a baby at 18 weeks.’”
Sands says her decision to keep her baby caused problems with other members of her family. Her mother voiced her displeasure and her father stopped talking to her. Still, she knew she had made the right decision.
She gave birth to a daughter on Valentine’s Day this year. She named her baby Eden. “She’s adorable,” says Sands. “I gaze at her every day. I feel so blessed.”
Expectant Mother Care will turn 22 years old this fall. President Chris Slattery founded the center with $1,500 and the help of volunteers, including several Catholic priests. Today 15 offices operate in four of the five New York City boroughs.
One of the centers is located across from a Planned Parenthood office; another is under the same roof as an abortion business. Expectant Mother Care members are “literally at the front doors of the abortion clinics,” explains Slattery, adding that success is largely a matter of “getting up early and getting the parking spaces.”
Slattery says he felt called to start the organization while working in the city as an advertising executive. His conversion to Christ and return to the Catholic Church coincided with his awakening to the sheer number of abortions being committed in the New York City area alone each year.
“When I discovered how bad abortion was in New York City,” Slattery says, “it was a great calling in my heart.” He says about 125,000 pregnancies are terminated in New York each year. That’s about 10% of the 1.25 million performed in the United States.
“I decided I should follow the commandments of Jesus, to treat little ones like they are Jesus, to help others choose life,” he adds.
Expectant Mother Care’s mobile crisis-pregnancy center is the first and largest in the Big Apple, Slattery says. Not all the women who come in are pregnant, he says. Of those who are, 90% are considering abortion. Some come looking for pregnancy tests or prenatal care.
“Our goal is to assist the mother to choose life, to bear the child and to raise it with our help, or to find a couple to do it for them,” Slattery says. Expectant Mother Care also offers pastoral care to help women after they’ve had abortions.
Slattery credits several influences that helped him discover his calling. He read the writings of Pope John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. And he read material by and about Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the former outspoken abortionist who is now an ardent defender of life.
Father Murray says he remains impressed by the level of commitment at Expectant Mother Care in helping women make the right choices regarding their pregnancies.
“Women can be led down the wrong path,” he says. “If they embrace the joy of being a mother, they know they are doing a good thing. They sense it.”
Christine Sands, like hundreds of other young mothers helped by Expectant Mother Care, knows exactly what he means.
Tucker Cordani lives in