The Truth: Pregnancy Resource Center Banquet

Swanky, classy, and... shocking. Three descriptive words that summed up my night at the South Hills Pregnancy Resource Center Dinner on Thursday, November 8, 2012.  My friend, Amanda, and I and over 800 other people attended the banquet at the East Club at Heinz Field.  With a spectacular view of the city and a spectacular view of an empty Heinz football field, it was a gorgeous setting and a night to remember.  

Completely empty Heinz Field

The Sparks
While The Sparks, a local Christian band, played, people milled about before the night's program started.  As far as I was concerned, this night would be pretty memorable, as the guest speaker was none other than Abby Johnson, the Texas Planned Parenthood clinic manager turned pro-life advocate.  She also happened to be sitting at our table(!!), which was right next to the stage, two huge bonuses!  Dinner was great and dessert was even better, but that may be because dessert is always better in my book...

After dinner, a local pediatrician, Dr. Welker, who is also on the board of the Pregnancy Resource Center, got on stage to kick off the night's program.  His most memorable bit was a story that he told about a cousin that he just met, one he never knew he had.  A cousin that was the result of his now-deceased aunt's unplanned pregnancy many, many years ago.  She gave birth to him and put him up for adoption, all the while keeping it from her family.  A couple who couldn't have kids adopted him, and he had a wonderful childhood.  Years later, he began to search for his birth mother and her family, and learned of family all around the Pittsburgh region that he never knew he had.  He had a great upbringing with loving parents and now had discovered more family and was busy building new relationships, all because his mom, Dr. Welker's aunt, chose life.  Then Dr. Welker introduced Abby Johnson.

Abby began her talk detailing how she grew up in a conservative family in Texas.  She was in college when she first was involved with Planned Parenthood, volunteering with the organization out of a sincere desire to help women.  She grew to love the organization and went to work there full time after college.  She rose up through the organization, one of their shooting stars, and before long she became a clinic director at the Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas.  She was even awarded Planned Parenthood's prestigious Margaret Sanger award for being employee of the year.  She recounted how she always believed that a fetus could feel no pain, and even had two abortions herself.  She was quite familiar with abortions at the clinic and was often the person responsible for piecing together the aborted fetus to ensure that all of the pieces had been retrieved from a woman's uterus, a vile job indeed.  But it was all part of her job helping women, and it was something that she even enjoyed.  

One day her whole life changed when the clinic was short staffed and she was needed to help on a ultrasound guided abortion.  She watched on the ultrasound screen as the visiting doctor performed an abortion on a 13 week fetus.  She watched as the fetus moved to the top of the womb as it attempted to get away from the doctor's cannula, the suction device used to suck the fetus from the womb.  According to Abby, watching the actual abortion wasn't as disturbing as the fact that the 13 week old fetus - a little being complete with fingers and toes that looked remarkably like her own daughter at that gestation - attempted to get away from the suction device.  She recalled that it was her hand that held the ultrasound wand as she stood by and did nothing to stop the destruction of a human life.  She quit.  And crossed the street to join the pro-life protesters that had been active outside her clinic for so many years.

Abby continued to talk about what can be done about abortion.  Complacency and apathy are the two attitudes so prevalent within the church that cause so many church-going Christians to do nothing about it.  She countered that there is a place for every Christian in the pro-life movement.  Volunteer at pregnancy centers, raise awareness, be part of the solution, because the solution to abortion is not going to come from the White House.  It will come from the workers on the street, the average Christian getting involved to be the hands and feet of Christ to their community.  It was sobering, challenging, and ultimately good to hear.   
Abby and I after the Banquet
Next was a discussion on abortion in Allegheny county and the work of the South Hills Pregnancy Resource Center by director Lori Szala.  Lori began with some very shocking facts about abortion in our own backyard, much of which was news to me.  In Allegheny county, there were approximately 8,000 abortions in 2009, which is the last year for which data is available.  There are about five abortion providers within Allegheny county, and Pittsburgh is considered an "at risk" city for abortion by Focus on the Family.  The abortions in Allegheny county comprised about a quarter of all abortions performed in Pennsylvania.  Many of these statistics were surprising to me, and maybe it's because it's easy to assume that abortion is a problem... everywhere else.  It's common for us to think that the problem is not in my backyard, but that just isn't true.  

On the other side of the issue, the PRC had almost 900 clients and performed about 100 ultrasounds last year.  Of the abortion minded women who receive ultrasounds, 90% go on to carry their baby to term.  About ninety babies are alive because their mothers chose life, due to the work of the Pregnancy Resource Center and this is certainly a statistic to rejoice over!  But to me, it was also a stark reminder that we are hardly doing enough.  Ninety babies alive because their abortion minded mothers decided against an abortion is only one percent - ONE PERCENT - of the total abortions done in our own backyard. 

Lori also had a huge announcement about a new partnership, one brought about by the Lord's leading.  The Pregnancy Resource Center has added a pregnancy center in Homestead to their locations, and will soon be converting the center to a medical center complete with ultrasound.  The PRC's ultrasound machine broke this year and they received a grant for a new ultrasound machine.  Just a short time after they received their grant, their ultrasound mechanic found the part to repair the old machine, leaving them with the resources to equip their new center with an ultrasound machine!  The need in the Homestead area is great, and a medical center there will be a huge blessing.  God is so good, and has so many plans for the PRC, both in the South Hills and in Homestead.  Lori's talk underscored the work of God at the PRC and the need for community involvement.   

This experience was my first time attending the Pregnancy Resource Center banquet, and although I'm excited about the headway being made, I'm left with the feeling that it just isn't enough.  There are simply too many abortions in Allegheny county, too many in Pennsylvania, and too many in the United States, approximately 54 million abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973, according to data from both the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute.  That is a staggering total equal to the entire current populations of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, four of our ten most populous states.  Can you imagine if those states no longer existed?  Or it's equal to our 27 least populous states, including Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington D.C. (not a state, but you get the idea) and Wyoming.  Gone.  Can you imagine?  

It's a staggering issue, economically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  And more than just unborn babies are at stake.  Abortion is usually touted as a woman's right and a pro woman option, but the volume of options for post-abortion counseling show it isn't a pure and simple fix.  There are so many fronts to the issue, and people who love Jesus need to mobilize to help, whether it's helping women considering abortion, meeting physical and parenting needs of women who choose life for their baby, or attending to the emotional and spiritual needs of women who choose abortion.  Both Lori and Abby highlighted the need to get involved, pray, be an advocate for those that have no advocate, and volunteer your time to help women with unplanned pregnancies.  While many of us say that we will pray, prayer should move us to action, and we should root out apathy and dive in to serve our communities.  The need is great and this holocaust of our time is not to be ignored. 

More Information on The Pregnancy Resource Center

The Pregnancy Resource Center provides confidential, free, life-affirming services such as: 
  • Pregnancy Testing and Options Counseling
  • Ultrasound
  • STD Testing and Treatment
  • Forensic Sexual Assault Examinations
  • Post-Assault Counseling
  • Post-Abortion Counseling
  • Other Support Services 
  • IN THE KNOW Education Programs
The vision of the PRC is to defend the sanctity of all human life, trusting in the power of God to restore the promise of hope and a future.  The mission of the PRC is to empower, encourage, and educate sexually at-risk young adults with the truth through medical and support services. 



  1. This is a powerful blog, Alayna. Thank you so much for posting.

    1. Thank you for reading, Dawn! It's a heavy topic, but we need to talk about it...

  2. Ross and I made a donation to the Pregnancy Resource Center in lieu of favors at our wedding reception. Our church partners with them each year for their baby bottle campaign. I'm so honored and glad that we're a part of this movement. Thanks for sharing about your experience with them!

    1. Thank you for reading, Becky! We (as Intent) have delighted in adopting a family from the PRC for Christmas, both last year and this year. What a cool experience to help these young moms along on their unexpected journey into motherhood... I'm just glad we are a part of this movement together!!

    2. Oops. Ross lovingly corrected me that it was another organization with the exact same goals that we donated to...but now, I think they are a part of this one. At any rate, they share the same love for young women and babies and are ministering to them in a way that honors Christ - there can't be such a thing as too much of that! :-)


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