By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — A traveling ultrasound van sat in the Women’s Choice Center parking lot May 27 for visitors to walk through.
The pro-life center would like to purchase the van in the future to reach out to women in the metro and outlying Quad-City area on both sides of the Mississippi River.
The Life and Family Educational Trust, which oversees the Women’s Choice Center, is conducting a feasibility study that addresses support of future plans not included in usual operating expenses. Three elements of the study cover physical improvements, the endowment and purchase of the van.
The board will receive the feasibility study in July and from there decide whether to enter a $1.5 million campaign, said Vicki Tyler, the Women’s Choice Center executive director.
The existing center will be 13 years old in July. Over the next 10 years it will require a new roof, air conditioning units and furnace, among other things, Tyler said. The board would also like to see its endowment increased. The center does not receive state or federal funding and is supported by donations. Purchase of the van would also include expenses for equipment, maintenance, insurance and supplies and salaries for a driver, nurse/sonographer and client advocate/counselor.
Tyler said the goal would be to send the van throughout the region seven days a week. Other visits outside the Quad Cities might be to Muscatine and DeWitt in Iowa, and Galesburg, Geneseo and Kewanee in Illinois. “The Catholic Church in Geneseo has already given us permission to park in their lot,” Tyler said. The nurse would conduct pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. The counselor or client advocate would speak with clients.
Michael Schwebach, driver/promoter for Save the Storks, drove the van to the Women’s Choice Center. “Three out of five babies are saved and the moms get the Gospel,” he said. “Eighty-four percent of women who have had an abortion feel they only have one option,” he added. “This (the ultrasound-equipped van) is a solution to save the babies.” When women see their babies on the ultrasound it’s a turning point, he said.
Save the Storks has sold 15 vans that operate for pro-life centers in the United States. Five of the vans are on order. The U.S.-made vans come in three sizes, outfitted with a custom vinyl wrap. Inside are an exam table, cabinet, room for an ultrasound machine (not included), seating for family and friends accompanying the expectant mother, monitors to view the ultrasound, a restroom for pregnancy tests and external safety cameras to avoid vehicle-pedestrian accidents. The van also has the capability to transmit ultrasound images to a physician via Wi-fi. The van can be outfitted for taking tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
Schwebach said he is on his fifth tour in the U.S. since March visiting pregnancy resource centers, potential donors, churches and others with the van. “The goal is to save children.”
For more information, call the Women’s Choice Center at (563) 332-0475.