LAS CRUCES (BNM) - A Las Cruces pregnancy resource center recently received a life-saving gift: an ultrasound machine from the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The ERLC's Psalm 139 project donated the machine to Care Net Pregnancy Center of Las Cruces. According to the ERLC, "the Psalm 139 Project is an initiative designed to make people aware of the life-saving potential of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations and to help pregnancy centers minister to abortion-vulnerable women by providing ultrasound equipment for them to use." To date, Psalm 139 Project has placed 24 ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers in 16 U.S. states.
Jamie Dickerson, executive director of Care Net of Las Cruces, first learned about Psalm 139's ultrasound donations through social media. After reaching out to ERLC President Russell Moore, Dickerson was connected to the ERLC's chief financial officer, Bobby Reed, who helped Dickerson through the application process. Care Net received their ultrasound machine in February and planned for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May. However, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the cancelation of the ceremony.
To legally utilize the ultrasound machine, the center trained its medical staff and ensured the center was compliant with the State of New Mexico's laws and guidelines. Now, the center is certified as a medical clinic, according to Dickerson. Care Net began utilizing the ultrasound machine in May.
According to Dickerson, the clinic performs between five and eight ultrasounds each week. That number is lower than the clinic's average weekly pregnancy tests before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading Dickerson to expect ultrasound appointments to increase once the pandemic wanes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only setback the clinic has faced since the ultrasound arrived. Two months ago, the husband of the clinic's nurse manager, Stephanie Williams, was involved in a car accident in which a drunk driver hit his vehicle. Williams, who conducts ultrasounds for the clinic, is currently on leave to care for her husband. As a result, a volunteer is currently performing ultrasounds.
According to the Psalm 139 Project, "78 percent of pregnant women who see ultrasounds of their babies decide to bring them to term." Between August and October, Care Net of Las Cruces provided ultrasounds to eight pregnant women. Seven of those women (87.5%) chose to proceed with their pregnancy and noted that seeing their child's ultrasound image impacted their decision.
While abortion is often seen through a political lens, Dickerson emphasized that Care Net of Las Cruces is not a political organization, adding, "we operate outside of any kind of political agenda, and I think that's really, really important in the pro-life movement, because it has become so political." Dickerson further emphasized Care Net's comprehensive care for pregnant women, saying, "we try to put our money where our mouth is here."
Care Net of Las Cruces works with expectant mothers to provide "practical resources." Those resources may include help applying for Medicaid, providing supplies including diapers, wipes, and baby clothes, and connecting expectant mothers with a local organization that throws baby showers. "I think a lot of times we're accused by people who are pro-life of not caring about the baby after they're born. That's one thing we really try to do at Care Net. [We] offer as much care as we can after the baby is born. But to get there, you have to care about the woman first," Dickerson said.
At the beginning of this year, acquiring an ultrasound machine was the clinic's top priority. Now that the clinic is operating a machine, Dickerson said Care Net of Las Cruces is shifting its focus to increasing ultrasound appointments. When asked how Southern Baptist can help the clinic achieve this goal, Dickerson noted the importance of financial donations. "Once we start offering ultrasounds, then we need to start targeting our ideal client … In order to target those ideal clients who are at risk for abortion, we have to have really good advertising that seeks those women out, and that costs money," she said.
Dickerson expressed gratitude for the work of the ERLC and Psalm 139 Project, saying, "I feel like they have a very comprehensive view of what it means to be pro-life." She noted that when Reed came to visit the center during the application process, he was aware of Care Net's proximity to the U.S. - Mexico border and its ministry to women with undocumented status. "I appreciate that the ERLC cares about that too. I think it's worth it. It's really close to home for us here, but I think that's a really important issue." Dickerson said. She also expressed gratitude for Moore, saying, "[he] certainly reflects that in everything he says and does," adding, "I just think they have a really broad view of what it means to be pro-life, and I just appreciate that so much."
Care Net Pregnancy Center of Las Cruces is located at 605 South Solano, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001. More information about Care Net's services and resources can be found at www.carenetlascruces.com. To learn more about the ERLC's Psalm 139 Project, visit www.psalm139project.org.