There is something about the moment when you hear the sound for the first time. It starts as a faint beat but as the small wand of the ultrasound machine glides over the stomach and above the tiny beating heart it becomes stronger, louder, and faster. The sound is powerful. It is the sound of life…and often when women hear it for the first time, it changes them.
“My first ultrasound really hit me like a train,” said Hannah. “It’s not real for many women until you see it….How can people abort this? How can someone take this life?…this is a baby.”
Hannah was 17 years old when she found out she was pregnant. Addicted to drugs and feeling hopeless, she randomly ran into a big, bright, blue bus. Plastered on the side of the bus were the words “Free On Board Ultrasound.” She walked up to it, and went inside.
The vehicle parked on the side of that busy street was one of the 43 buses facilitated by Save the Storks. The passion project of Joe and Ann Baker, it initially started in 2012 with the goal of launching mobile medical unites across the country to serve abortion-minded women.
How it all started
In 2010, Joe took a missions trip. Not to a foreign country, but to New York City. There he teamed up with passionate pro-lifers who parked a shuttle van, equipped with a sonogram, outside of an abortion clinic in the Bronx. They were there offering free sonograms and assistance to any women who turned away from abortion. It was here that he met a woman who would help change the course of his life.
“This woman comes up to me and says, ‘I am here for my appointment,’” Joe explains. “I wasn’t really sure what to say yet, so I just started stuttering and saying that I don’t work for this abortion clinic. So here I am hanging out with these crazy folks, with this crazy van and they are handing out free sonograms…so I say, ‘Would you like one?’ And this woman says, sure. And I am like really?”
The women climbed aboard while Joe prayed. She came out 40 minutes later, gripping her phone. Joe asked, “Who are you calling?” With tears in her eyes, the woman said, “I am calling my mother to tell her she is going to be a grandma.”
It was in that moment that Joe and his fiancé Ann’s life changed.
One year later, Joe and Ann got married. Instead of buying a house, they bought a van and started their vision of what would become Save the Storks.
Mobile Units Deploy
Today, each mobile unit, which is utilized by pregnancy centers, is equipped with a counseling area and state of the art equipment to give their patients the first glimpse of the growing life inside of them.
“We come alongside centers who need help and encouragement,” explains Natasha Smith with Save the Storks. “From fundraising coaching, strategic planning, and the ABCs of going mobile, to sidewalk advocate training and executive life coaching, Save the Storks creatively empowers pro-life leaders.”
Many of the pregnancy centers Save the Storks has worked with have ultrasound and counseling available at their centers. However, the mobile buses allow them the flexibility to park outside abortion clinics, food pantries, and other areas where they may reach abortion-minded women.
“I saw one woman board a bus in New York City,” Smith said. “She had just missed her abortion appointment and our affiliate from Troy, NY invited her for a free ultrasound. When the young lady came off the bus, about 45 minutes later, her whole countenance had changed. She didn’t want to look anyone in the eye before, but now she was beaming with the most beautiful smile. She hugged all of us on the sidewalk when she walked away from the abortion clinic. It was amazing to see how hope and joy can replace heartache, fear and shame when a woman is offered support.”
Four out of five women who enter a Save the Storks bus chose life for their babies. But the help does not stop there. The pregnancy center works with the women to help eliminate the reasons why abortion seemed like the only option.
“The loudest voices in our culture do not represent the majority and we were thankful to be part of offering the next generation a loving and compassionate means of pro-life expression,” Smith adds. “We want all women to thrive. She is strong. She can succeed. We believe that she can do anything with the network of support that exists for her.”
Headline photo: Joe and the girl who changed his life in NYC in 2010.