The annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington is always interesting, and it’s been known to include some pro-life panels. Now and then, even a marquee speaker will say something encouraging. The most constructive conversations and connections, for anyone interested in pro-life media and politics, occur in the breakout sessions in the side rooms, away from the huge mainstage ballroom. This year’s conference was no exception.
“Changing Hearts and Minds in the Pro-life Movement” was tucked away in one of those side rooms, in the last time slot of the day. (Always read your conference agenda through to the end.) The panel was made up of a pair of political folk, an entertainer, and a worker in a front-line pro-life nonprofit agency about as far from politics as can be. And in that high-powered company (by CPAC standards), it was the guy from the front lines who left the deepest impression.
Jeff Gilbert of Save the Storks was on the speakers’ platform. His organization adapts vans into mobile units where women can obtain pregnancy resources and no-cost ultrasounds. The vans are designed to be used by pregnancy resource centers anywhere they’re needed, even near abortion facilities. Save the Storks has just launched its 33rd bus. (One of them visited New Hampshire last year to demonstrate a unit’s capabilities.)
Jeff had a no-doubt answer about how his project has changed hearts and minds: it builds one relationship at a time, where a woman is seeking aid. “We showed up. We didn’t just pass her on to someone else.”
The people who came to hear the panel sat up and took notice when Jeff talked about Save the Storks. This was not a typical political-conference speaker, and hardly anyone in the room had ever heard of Save the Storks. The agency seemed to have stepped way out of its zone to come to CPAC to reach people who might not otherwise have heard about its mission and message. Continue reading ““Authentic Love” is louder than words”
The Pennacook Pregnancy Center in Manchester recently hosted a representative from Save the Storks, who brought along a “Stork Bus” to demonstrate the organization’s mobile ultrasound units. Save the Storks has facilitated the purchase of 22 mobile units by pregnancy centers around the country and expects have another 18 in action soon.
Representatives of Manchester-area human services agencies were among the visitors who came for a look at the bus, which is a 24-foot vehicle designed as a mobile pregnancy center. “It’s not a converted RV,” said Michael, the Save the Storks representative. “Everything is for the comfort of the mother.”
A pregnancy center operating a Stork Bus can park it near an abortion facility, providing a highly visible opportunity for women to obtain no-cost sonograms. Staffing – one counselor and one sonographer – is the responsibility of the local pregnancy center.
No Stork Bus purchase is in the offing for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, but the Save the Storks visit gave people a chance to see what a mobile unit might look like.
The interior of the bus on display was remarkable: an ultrasound unit with a large display screen for the sonogram, exam table, private bathroom, private counseling area, audiovisual equipment, even a small refrigerator. The exterior was “wrapped” with a Save the Storks promotional message; each center operating a bus chooses its own exterior design.
The investment for a Stork Bus is substantial. Michael of Save the Storks told me that his group can help local pregnancy care centers find grants, but it’s clear that a center wanting a bus would have to do a lot of fundraising on its own. It’s possible for several agencies to cooperate in the purchase and operation of a bus.
“Four out of five women receiving ultrasounds in these buses choose life for their babies. It used to be three out of five,” said Michael. “Prayer is what we need the most. God does the rest.”