By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
During its annual state convention in Coralville earlier this month, Iowa Knights of Columbus set their sights on building a stronger culture of life.
Mike Gaspers, the Iowa Knights of Columbus state deputy, said delegates endorsed a resolution directing formation of a steering committee to create a strategic plan around funding and support for culture of life activities.
“The cornerstone of this strategic plan is the Knights of Columbus ultrasound initiative,” Gaspers said. Ultrasounds are a “game changer” in the effort to support life.
In 2009 the national Knights of Columbus launched the ultrasound initiative through which the Supreme Council will match funds raised by state/local councils to purchase ultrasound machines. These will be used in centers that care for mother and child.
Local entities, whether single or multiples councils, raise half of the money for the machine. Upon submission of funds and required paperwork to the Supreme Council, the other half of the funding is released.
Iowa and Florida were the first two states to jump on the bandwagon. Gaspers said the first ultrasound machine purchased in Iowa in 2009 through the initiative went to Informed Choice of Iowa in Iowa City.
Bob Sinclair, treasurer with Informed Choice, said he learned about the pro-life clinic while reading an article in The Catholic Messenger. Wanting to make a donation for the center, which was just starting up, he met with members and joined the board. “They not only got money, but they got help and a board member,” he laughed.
A member of the Knights of Columbus 4th degree Bishop Davis Council 2818 in Williamsburg, Sinclair set the wheels in motion when he learned about the ultrasound initiative. After he spoke with Gaspers and fellow Knights in Williamsburg, the fundraising began. “Our clinic was a pioneer in receiving this ultrasound machine. We have been using the machine since we received it.”
Now Informed Choice has purchased a mobile clinic that will hit the road in Iowa later this year. The mobile clinic will include an ultrasound machine.
Sinclair said the Knights of Columbus and Informed Choice of Iowa have the same vision — to reduce the number of abortions in Iowa.
Gaspers noted that the Iowa Knights of Columbus has a goal to reduce the number of abortions in the state by 50 percent in the next five years as part of the culture of life initiative. One way to help reduce the rate is by obtaining more ultrasound machines for facilities across the state.
Within the Diocese of Davenport, Gaspers said the acquisition of two more ultrasound machines is possible in 2015 — one for Clinton and one for Burlington.
The Knights’ culture of life focus goes beyond the ultrasound initiative, Gaspers said. It covers womb to tomb. Other initiatives include Coats for Kids, Habitat for Humanity, vocations support and American Wheel Chair. The largest charitable endeavor of the Iowa Knights is the Campaign for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (formerly the Tootsie Roll Drive).
In 2013, Iowa Knights donated $187,370 (about $5.99 per member) to culture of life initiatives. Gaspers and John Aldrich, state deputy-elect, have challenged delegates to increase that amount to $52 per member over a period of five years.
Gaspers also noted the Iowa Knights approved a resolution at the convention in support of a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. The Knights pray for an end to webcam abortions and for an option to offer women the opportunity to view their ultrasound prior to an abortion. “Each of these if enacted (in the Iowa Legislature) in and of themselves will reduce the number of abortions in our state. However, any number of abortions is not acceptable, so Knights strive on in service of life.”