Last night, in Mooresville, N.C., 300 pro-life supporters gathered for the 20th annual fundraising banquet of the Pregnancy Center of Lake Norman. The group packed out the Charles Mack Center, the only banquet facility in town large enough for the group. The group raised a significant portion of its proposed 2019 budget of about $350,000.
It would be fair to read the paragraph above, especially if you don’t live in Mooresville, N.C., and ask…so what? This is a local story, perhaps, but of little significance beyond Mooresville.
It’s a fair question, but consider this: The Pregnancy Center of Lake Norman is not in Atlanta or Chicago or Dallas or even Charlotte. It is in a small city of about 40,000 people nearly an hour north of Charlotte. And, according to Vincent DeCaro of Carenet, the largest network of pregnancy care centers in the nation, there are about 2700 such pregnancy care centers around the country.
- When you hear that the Pregnancy Center of Lake Norman helped save 160 babies in the past year, multiply that number by 2700.
- When you hear that the group has more than 150 volunteers who donate time to the center, answering phones and distributing maternity clothes and baby supplies and greeting women and babies who walk in the front door because they have no other place to go, multiply that number by 2700.
- When you hear that more than 5000 women were served with pre-natal care, baby clothes, and other material needs, multiply that number by 2700.
In fact, while the Pregnancy Center of Lake Norman was holding its annual banquet last night, it’s likely that as many as 10 other facilities, in cities and towns across the country, were holding similar events. I know for a fact that at least one was: While I was at one event in Mooresville, N.C., Colson Center President John Stonestreet was speaking to supporters of the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center, nearly 2000 miles away.
It is only when you consider this multiplier effect that you begin to understand the true impact that the pregnancy care center movement has had on America. And if you don’t trust this rough math, consider a recent report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that “In 2017, pregnancy centers provided nearly 2,000,000 people, primarily women and youth, in the United States with free services, with estimated community cost savings of at least $161 million annually. More than seven in 10 locations offered free ultrasounds with over 400,000 performed; one in four locations offered STI/STD testing; 295,900 moms and dads attended parenting courses; and, 24,100 clients received after-abortion support. In addition, it is estimated that 67,400 volunteers gave of their time at pregnancy centers, of which 7,500 are estimated to be medical professionals.”
With hard numbers like these to make the case, it is not hard to understand why John Stonestreet and I, in our 2015 book Restoring All Things, wrote this:
These pregnancy care centers have, together, become an effective life-saving army of compassion, operating in outposts all across America. These centers are not just resisting abortion. They are rescuing the lives of babies, restoring the broken lives of their mothers and fathers, and rebuilding families and communities. It’s a remarkable movement, and that’s why we believe the clients, workers, volunteers, and donors of pregnancy care centers are truly the “secret ingredient” in the remarkable pro-life shift we’ve seen in the attitudes toward abortion in the past two decades here in America.
However, it’s important to state the obvious. Despite all this good work, more than 1-million abortions still take place in this country each year, more than 61-million abortions since the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. And while some states – such as Ohio and Georgia – have recently passed “heartbeat” laws that will make abortion illegal after a heartbeat is detected, other states – such as New York – now allow abortion up to the moment of birth.
In other words, there’s still much work to do to make abortion not just illegal, but unthinkable.
Nonetheless, we have made a start. And as I walked out of the Charles Mack Center in Mooresville, N.C., last night, I reflected on some of Chuck Colson’s insights about America. He used to say that America is strong not because of places like Washington or New York or Los Angeles, the elite “power cities” of America. No, he was fond of saying, America is strong because it is strong “in the middle.”
America is strong because it is strong in places like Mooresville, N.C. May such places continue to flourish.
Warren Cole Smith is the Vice-President of Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.