New Frontiers for Pro-Life Ministry: Ultrasounds and Hospice Care

February 1, 2006

The L.A. Times recently ran this feature, which chronicles the saga of a quintessential Girl in Trouble: Danielle Hayworth is poor, single, has two kids already (one with cerebral palsy), and she’s pregnant with twins. One of the twins will be born with his brain outside his skull. Her boyfriend can’t handle what’s coming and splits.

The story also highlights Choices, a Wichita clinic that aims to dissuade women from abortion by providing all the ultrasounds they could ever want. I would guess that this strategy is about 5000 times more effective than red-faced men swinging posters of mangled fetuses and shouting “Baby Killer!” through bullhorns.

Choices is also one of the nation’s few hospices for women carrying babies they know will not survive.

(The clinic’s director) bluntly explains to his patients what their child will look like when he is born, and how he will die. He insists they think through the choices they will face: when to insert a feeding tube, when to resuscitate, when to do nothing more than hug a dying baby tight.

But Stringfield also helps expectant parents to anticipate the birth with joy. He offers them ultrasounds as often as they want so they can marvel at all that’s right with their child instead of dwelling on what’s wrong. He shows them it’s OK to laugh as well as to grieve.

Many pro-life activists fail to recognize the emotional, financial, and material needs of the women who are facing such dire choices. They tend to be the same people arguing against sex ed, welfare, and the availablility of free birth control. Their moral stance is devoid of compassion for the women involved, and I have a real problem with that. It’s nice to see pro-lifers placing their values within a larger context of understanding and service, an approach that makes Planned Parenthood so appreciated.