When Donna Perry heard about the latest Planned Parenthood undercover video of a representative talking about the price value of aborted babies, her face fell for a moment. She’s been a part of the struggle for many years now –the struggle for the lives of unborn children as well as their mothers.
Perry, executive director of Life Resources of Georgia, Inc., says that while righteous indignation is warranted it by no means can be the only response. In effect, those who champion pro-life causes need to be ready to support pregnancy care centers through the state that compete with services offered through Planned Parenthood, with one extremely obvious exception.
“The best way for pregnancy care ministries to save a baby is by meeting the mother where she’s at spiritually and sharing the truth of Christ’s love with her,” she explains. “We need to focus on the woman and the baby. We want to use that first appointment with the mother and meet her needs, to help her make a decision [for life], love her through it, and ask God to open her heart so we can then influence her toward Christ.”
Only three of the 65-70 pregnancy care centers (PCCs) Perry works with are directly connected to Georgia Baptists – Athens Pregnancy Center out of Prince Avenue Baptist Church and the Pregnancy Care Center of Gwinnett operated out of Gwinnett Metro Baptist Association, and Alpha Pregnancy Center operated out of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany. The rest were begun and operate day-to-day by evangelicals, many of them Baptists. Perry and LRG act as consultants, so to speak, in helping concerned citizens wanting a center in their community and walking them through steps such as establishing a board, director, location, and building up their name locally.
Life Resources of Georgia began in 2007 with a $75,000 grant from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation and Perry in the position she keeps today. Pregnancy Care Centers are typically termed to be medical or non-medical, the difference being that the former operates under the licenses of physicians and has registered nurses and equipment to conduct procedures such as ultrasounds and the latter for counseling and providing information. There were 12 medical PCCs in Georgia in 2006, says Perry, and now there are 45.
Without the ongoing contributions through GBHCMF, Life Resources wouldn’t have gotten off the ground, she emphasizes. Even so, it’s hard to compete with the $528.4 million Planned Parenthood received last year through government grants and reimbursements. Funding for PCCs involves startup costs for staff, utilities, equipment, etc., but ongoing attention must be paid to areas such as communications, advertising, and even search engine optimization (SEO) so the website is easy to find. “I did my own survey and Googled different towns and ‘abortion.’ If the [pregnancy care] center wasn’t on the first page of results, they were invisible. If I couldn’t find the centers, how could someone considering an abortion?” she asks.
Incidentally, she added, a new website for LRG is in the works and should be launched soon.
Perry stresses that being a part of the community and, for starters, making sure the community knows it has a pregnancy care center, is crucial in the grass roots pro-life movement. Georgia Baptists can help tremendously by volunteering and supporting those centers, but that’s also accomplished through those centers boosting their SEO standing and marketing strategies as well as becoming accredited by a secular organization in its medical practices. “These are all things we’re wanting to achieve in order to go head-to-head with Planned Parenthood. We want to do this in a truthful, honest, relevant way.”
Recently, Perry researched the number of babies saved through Georgia’s pregnancy care centers and those aborted over the last five years. The findings were for every child saved, 16 were lost because the mothers never knew pregnancy centers existed. News like that drives her and the 3,000 volunteers trained under LRG to take steps such as training others in how to react when someone has an unplanned pregnancy or is considering an abortion.
LRG originally began with a “builder” mindset, she says. Team up with those who want to establish a care center and help get it going. Now she equates the organization – which she says there is none like in the country – to “architects.”
“We have a birds eye view of the state and can see the holes where there are needs for more services. We began designing programs to expand the outreach of all the Georgia centers.”