On Sanctity of Life Sunday, Jan. 20, Americans recognize the value of life from cradle to grave. That includes the 90-year-old widow with dementia, the child with multiple health challenges, those who live with debilitating pain and those dealing with life-altering disease.
Add preborn babies to that list. The fight to save them began in 1973 when abortion on demand was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s easy to get complacent in the fight for life. It has been going on for 46 years. It’s hard to wrap our minds around more than 60 million lives lost to abortion in the U.S. since 1973, and sometimes it seems not much changes.
In the late 1980s, members of Southeast Christian Church mobilized with other area churches to start a pro-life pregnancy center in Louisville. One opened in 1988 with Southeast’s help, and a second opened in 1989 with the help of three Baptist churches. The two centers merged in the mid-1990s and became known as A Woman’s Choice. Staffers did not preach, shout or shame. They simply loved women who walked through the door.
Free ultrasounds made a difference. So did mentoring and long-term support to help women and their children thrive. Babies saved in the ’80s now are adults—some moms and dads, doctors, lawyers, nurses, business owners or missionaries.
On the 30th anniversary of A Woman’s Choice, now called BsideU For Life, many thanked the ministry for encouraging and counseling their mothers to choose life.
What is a saved baby worth? It is impossible to quantify, but to the 9,500 men and women rescued as babies through BsideU For Life, it’s everything.
Seventeen years ago, Southeast member Cotina Heath accidentally called A Woman’s Choice to make an appointment for an abortion. She was already parenting four children alone, and another baby seemed overwhelming.
She talked with counselors and delayed her decision one day, but made another appointment at the abortion clinic. This time a sidewalk counselor urged her to get a free ultrasound at A Woman’s Choice. It was the beginning of a whole new way of life. Her daughter Aariaunna was born in October 2002.
“When I think about it, she almost wasn’t here,” Heath said. “Now the others are grown and on their own. It’s just me and Aariaunna. What would I do without her?”
Later that year, Heath joined the staff at A Woman’s Choice, often sharing her own story with moms considering abortion. She decided to follow Jesus and was baptized at Southeast.
“We’ve come a long way in 17 years,” Heath said. “I’m now a nurse, providing for my family. But I know I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of the staff at AWC. A lot of women don’t realize they will stay beside you for life.”
In 2005, ministry expanded with Necole’s Place where women could take parenting classes, get counseling, study for their GED and attend a Bible study. Twelve years later, both A Woman’s Choice and Necole’s Place moved under one roof with a new name that describes the ministry: BsideU For Life.
“What’s happened at BsideU For Life in the last 30 years is the message of God’s amazing grace and love,” Executive Director Monica Henderson said. “God loves unborn babies, the orphan and the brokenhearted. God’s love extended through action as we tell moms we will be beside them for life.”
Makaika Highfield’s life was radically changed because of the resource center.
“I have been given so many opportunities because of the selfless act my birth mom chose of giving me up for adoption and choosing to trust the workers at A Woman’s Choice, knowing they would find the perfect home for me,” she said.
Highfield was raised in Kenya where her parents are missionaries and now lives in Thailand where she works with children at risk in the red-light district of Chiang Mai. She also works at an afterschool program and with the local community to teach child rights and protection.
Now BsideU For Life is supported by 109 churches, including Southeast. As the church expanded, so did support of pro-life pregnancy centers throughout Louisville, Indiana and Elizabethtown. Now six pro-life centers are supported by Southeast—one in the neighborhood of each campus.
“We will go to them and save every baby we can,” said Southeast Senior Pastor Dave Stone. “We’ll come alongside every mom and every man who financed an abortion. We’ll do it one person at a time.”
Outreach is free and personal. Women get free ultrasounds, testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, counseling, parenting classes, Bible studies, diapers and clothing.
According to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute, numbers of abortions are declining nationwide, but the availability of abortion drugs that women can access in their own homes may be a factor.