By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — Thanks to the efforts of the Knights of Columbus, The Pregnancy Center in Clinton now has an updated ultrasound machine which director Peggy Jenkins hopes will save more unplanned babies from abortion.
The new ultrasound machine offers 3D and 4D images that provide a mother with a glimpse of her unborn baby’s face and other features. The images are more detailed than traditional ultrasound images, which primarily showcase bones and internal structures.
“Statistics show that over 90 percent of women who see their baby on the ultrasound choose life,” Jenkins said. “The images on the new machine are so realistic and we believe the clearer they can see the child, the better chance we have to plead to a mother’s heart for the precious life that she is carrying.”
The Pregnancy Center acquired the machine in June after local Knights of Columbus councils in Iowa and Illinois raised just under $25,000 for the $50,000 machine. The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, through its Ultrasound Initiative, matched the funds.
The Supreme Council’s Ultrasound Initiative offers donation matching for the purchase of medical equipment at qualifying pro-life pregnancy care centers. The Pregnancy Center offers free pregnancy tests and obstetrical ultrasounds to those who have a positive test result, peer counseling and information on sexual health, alternatives to abortion, healthy pregnancy, parenting and post-abortion counseling. Referrals for medical issues, adoption and social needs are also offered. Additionally, a mentoring program helps parents to acquire newborn necessities such as diapers and formula.
Luke VanderBleek, a KC from Fulton, Ill., and board president of The Pregnancy Center, first heard about the Ultrasound Initiative about two years ago while reading the Knights of Columbus national magazine, Columbia. Knowing that the machine The Pregnancy Center received more than 10 years ago from Focus on the Family was becoming outdated, he ran the idea past his brother, Bart, a member of the Clinton KC council, and fellow Pregnancy Center board member Ryan Steines of the Camanche KC council. They confirmed with KC state deputies on both sides of the Mississippi River and the Supreme Council that The Pregnancy Center was eligible for matching funds. Then the men began to gauge the interest of local councils.
The interest was immediate, VanderBleek said. Many KCs eagerly donated their own money and began to look for fundraising opportunities. One area charitable foundation donated about $10,000. In Iowa, the Clinton KC council donated proceeds from one of its Lenten fish fries and the DeWitt KC council donated the proceeds from its flag campaign.
Vanderbleek said the goal was to raise the $25,000 by the end of the year, which was achieved more than six months in advance. “I think pro-life culture is alive and well in our area and I’m thrilled how that whole thing turned out,” he said.
Jenkins said The Pregnancy Center plans to donate the older ultrasound machine. “The Knights of Columbus exemplify what it means to be pro-life – they do not just talk the talk, they walk the walk.”