REWRITTEN HEADLINE: Justice Department Says U.S. Will "Protect" Texas Women Seeking Abortions, The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2021
In timing that only the Lord could orchestrate, when Senate Bill 8 was signed into law in May 2021, the Skillman Clinic launched sonogram services on-site for women with unexpected pregnancies. Using the faithfulness of the body of Christ, God provided financial support for the initiative, allowing over 20 patients since then to witness the miracle of life through a sonogram in our clinic. More famously known as the Texas Heartbeat Bill, this law protects preborn lives and restricts all elective abortions after the child’s heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks after fertilization.
On September 1st, the law went into effect, restricting access to abortion services in the state. Staff members at local pregnancy resource centers report that they have since seen an increase in requests from women for earlier-term abortions, sometimes before viable pregnancies are even detected.
Watermark Urgent Care clinics have historically used urine tests and lab work as the primary methods for pregnancy diagnoses. This new sonogram machine is an added resource for staff and volunteers to serve women in their crisis moments.
“Engaging in conversations about God’s value of life is not a new area of ministry for us,” said Skillman Clinic Director Samantha Parsons. “The sonogram machine is simply a new tool that strengthens the work we’ve been doing since day one to affirm the value of human life.”
“This service helps connect women without an OBGYN to low or no-cost medical resources. It serves women who are under-resourced, under-supported, or abortion-minded with an opportunity to be connected to mentors who will care for them throughout their pregnancies,” said Parsons.
For abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable patients, sonograms can be an effective tool in a decision towards life. According to Heartbeat International, the average woman choosing abortion makes the decision within a day of confirming her pregnancy and obtains an abortion within the next week.
The Watermark Urgent Care team aims to schedule patients with confirmed pregnancies for a follow-up visit within 48 hours. Parsons shared that God has provided a team of on-call pastoral care volunteers that are available to be paired with patients during their follow-up visits. During a sonogram visit, volunteers help patients build a support system and plan. Mothers are connected to referrals for low-cost prenatal care and given a packet with educational content about nutrition, safe medications, and stages of fetal development. One primary connection made from these visits is to The Life Initiative ministry at Watermark Community Church.
“In tandem with God aligning the pieces for us to offer sonograms, The Life Initiative team has developed a robust and growing mentor program that places women and men with one-on-one mentors to walk through the entire pregnancy and the first 2 years of life for their child.” said Parsons.
In this current cultural moment, many in America view abortion as nothing more than a women’s healthcare procedure and claim that Christians who oppose it do not care for the women being impacted. But Christy Chermak, Executive Director of Watermark Health, suggests that it is a different reality playing out in patient rooms.
“An unexpected pregnancy can cause all kinds of concerns and doubts and fears. A pregnancy diagnosis is a life changing moment for women, and many may understandably view it as a crisis or a problem to be solved. In our current cultural climate, it is an easy connection for women to assume that abortion will be a quick solution for an overwhelming situation. We know that at its core, however; abortion isn’t only ending the life of a pre-born child but medical research continues to show us that abortion also contributes to negative emotional and medical outcomes for the mother in a way that bringing a child to term does not,” said Chermak.
“In our patient visits we aren’t just advocating for the child, we are also concerned about the mother’s future physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health. Our team works hard to create a safe place for her to ask and process honest questions while seeking solutions that serve her best interests as well as the child’s.”
“We serve a God who has made it clear that He really cares about people. And so, we commit to being a ministry where all human life is valued in our patient rooms; the pre-born child, his or her mother and father, and anyone else we’re given the privilege to meet and serve that day.”