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ERLC’s new machines in Dallas ‘more impactful’

DALLAS (BP) — Ultrasound machines — like those placed recently at the Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas with the aid of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission — not only help women choose life for their unborn children but create transformative personal stories.

The ERLC announced Oct. 13 at its annual national conference in Grapevine, Texas, the donation of two machines to the Dallas center through the commission’s Psalm 139 Project, its ministry to help place ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers across the country. The ERLC and Focus on the Family placed the machines this summer through their Evangelicals for Life (EFL) collaboration.

“We are thrilled to work with the heroic staff and volunteers at the Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas as they serve women all across the metroplex,” said Daniel Darling, the ERLC’s vice president for communications, in a news release.

“We are thankful for our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters who have invested and given sacrificially to care for unborn children and serve women in crisis,” he said. “I am excited to see how God will use [these ultrasound machines] and Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas to continue Gospel work and further the church’s mission to stand alongside the most vulnerable in society.”

The availability of ultrasound machines makes a significant difference in what percentage of women decide for life, said Carolyn Cline, president of Involved for Life Inc., the umbrella organization for two pregnancy centers and a mobile sonogram unit in Dallas.

When Involved for Life’s centers and mobile unit present information to an abortion-minded woman about the procedure and fetal development as required by state law, “then 62 percent of the women who come in choose life,” Cline told the audience at the ERLC national conference. “[W]hen we’re able to add medical services, which is ultrasound and STD screening as well, then we have 85 percent of those women who choose life for their baby.

“We call it ‘the God machine,’ because everything that we’ve talked about they’re able to finally see themselves on a screen,” she said. “It’s not just information about a baby. It’s a woman seeing her baby for the first time. And that bonding process begins, and that is where minds are often changed.”

Ultrasound images certainly made a difference for DeVon and Maritza, as well as Aujante.

DeVon and Maritza came to the Downtown Pregnancy Center with abortion in mind. “Abortion seemed the easiest way out,” she said in a video testimony on the ministry’s website. She trusted God for the first time on that visit, Maritza said.

Then DeVon saw his son on the ultrasound screen.

“As soon as they showed me the heartbeat, it was like all downhill from there,” he said on the video. “I broke out in tears. I just started crying and crying and crying. All I could really think about was: ‘I made that; I made that. That’s a gift right there.’

“I was just like, ‘This is God working. God put us in this position for a reason.’ I started accepting that and thinking about it like that.”

Aujante, a wife and mother already, confessed she was confused and lost when she arrived at Involved for Life’s Uptown Women’s Center.

“When the doctor did my sonogram, I saw a baby — a baby,” she said in amazement in another video testimony on the website. “I was so shocked. I thought, ‘A baby inside me.’

“I’m going for abortion, and my mind is for abortion,” Aujante recalled. “And you’re going to have God Himself to change my mind. But when I saw the sonogram, I just started crying, like there is life. There is somebody there that I can care for. I believe this small, little person can change my life.”

Downtown Pregnancy Center quickly began use of the new machines in mid-July after receiving them and the necessary training, Cline told Baptist Press in a telephone interview. The technology has improved dramatically since the ministry purchased its previous machines six or seven years ago, she said.

“For our nurses that are currently using them, the quality is so much better,” Cline told BP. “And of course for our clientele, every little bit that we can have an improvement of the image of the baby in the womb is just that much more impactful for the client to be able to see the features of the baby. For us that’s very exciting as well — that they’re getting a better quality picture.”

More than 450 unborn babies were saved last year through the ministry of the Downtown Pregnancy Center, Uptown Women’s Center and the mobile unit, Cline said. The ministry also has seen the transformation of lives through the Gospel, she told BP. So far this year, 172 clients have professed faith in Christ and another 61 have rededicated their lives to Him.

Involved for Life Inc. began in 1994 as an outreach ministry of First Baptist Church in Dallas and became a separate organization nine years later, Cline said.

In September, the Psalm 139 Project placed an ultrasound machine at the Liberty Women’s Clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Liberty, Mo. It also plans to place a machine in New Orleans before the end of the year.

The Psalm 139 Project not only helps place ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers, but it funds the training of staff members to operate the machines. The initiative’s name comes from the well-known chapter in the Bible in which David testifies to God’s sovereign care for him when he was an unborn child. David wrote in verse 13 of that psalm, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Since 2004, the Psalm 139 Project has helped provide ultrasound equipment for centers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

The ERLC has collaborated with Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound Program on some of the machine placements. The ERLC and Focus have co-hosted EFL each January the last three years.

All gifts to the Psalm 139 Project go toward machines and training, since the ERLC’s administrative costs are covered by the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified giving plan. For more information on the Psalm 139 Project, go to psalm139project.org.