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Saturday, 17 March 2018

How a State Grant Will Help One Pro-Life Center Rescue More Lives in 2018

“Father, bless us today and give us the right words to say to each client.” 

This prayer marks the beginning of “A Day in the Life of PDHC,” a promotional video for Columbus, Ohio-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers. 

The video follows PDHC’s staff, volunteers, and managers at their various locations throughout metro Columbus as they serve clients with free ultrasounds, parenting classes, abortion recovery groups, classroom sexual integrity training and consultations—both in-person and via text. 

In an effort to increase awareness about PDHC in Columbus, its president, Julie Moore is planning more marketing ventures in the coming year. Along with video production, the organization is working to bump up its online presence with a digital marketing strategy aimed at attracting new clients.

“For the last several years, central Ohio abortions have hovered above 3,000 per year,” Moore said. “Although we are reaching thousands of women every year, we believe that a marketing strategy will enable us to reach even more women with live-saving pregnancy resources and information.”

Thanks to a recently awarded grant from the state of Ohio, PDHC will soon have an additional $200,000 to get the word out to women, families and students in need.

The grant is a part of the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program, an initiative that allocates TANF funding to pregnancy help centers in the state. Since the program began in 2013, the Ohio legislature has allocated $2.5 million to it, a sum that has been divided and awarded to multiple life-affirming organizations in the last five years.

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In that time, the program has overcome significant hurdles, including state budget cuts and a lawsuit filed by the state’s largest abortion facility. Ohio Right to Life, which lobbied for the creation of the program, remains its most vocal advocate, successfully lobbying for its renewal in 2015 and 2017.

“The importance of pregnancy centers cannot be overstated,” the group’s director of communications, Jamieson Weaver, said. “Ohio Right to Life is proud of our work on the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program. This grant allows pregnancy centers like PDHC to reach more women in their local communities, and provide them with the care, hope and support that they need."

Overlapping Risks to Mom & Baby

While this is the first year PDHC will receive funding from the program, Moore has testified in its support before multiple legislative committees since its inception.

To receive funding, every two years, pregnancy centers must participate in a rigorous application process through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. 

While PDHC missed out on the funding during the first two rounds—both times using a contracted grant writer—this time, Moore pulled her team together to work on the application in-house, submitting a 50-page proposal that detailed PDHC’s vision for reaching more mothers and babies in central Ohio.

Along with promoting alternatives to abortion, her team highlighted the importance of addressing central Ohio’s alarming infant mortality rates. For the last several years, Ohio has ranked near the bottom nationally for its rate of infant deaths. More infant deaths occur in Franklin County, where PDHC is based, than anywhere else in the state. 

To address the crisis, state and city governments have pursued a slew of bipartisan initiatives to focus on increasing education and resources regarding safe sleep and maternal health. 

Moore sees PDHC’s role as vital in this fight.

As PDHC explained in its application, “Risk factors for abortion are comparable to risk factors for infant mortality,” a conclusion Moore’s team came to by comparing data from both the Ohio Infant Mortality Report and the Ohio Induced Abortion Report

The same babies PDHC has sought to rescue from abortion over the past 37 years are also at risk for infant mortality once they’re born.

“PDHC has promoted life in our community every day since 1981,” said Moore. “We are grateful to aid our state in efforts to reduce infant mortality by providing crucial services to more pregnant women and families at no cost.”

Getting Practical

One of the key material resources PDHC provides for its moms is prenatal vitamins. Through a grant from Vitamin Angels, an international nonprofit organization, PDHC has distributed 1,881 bottles of prenatal vitamins—338,580 doses—over the last two years. The vitamins are available to TANF-eligible women throughout the duration of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

To PDHC, these vitamins are crucial to ensuring positive birth outcomes, since poorly nourished mothers are at greater risk for stillbirths and babies with low-birth weights.

Prenatal vitamins are just one important example of how the organization supports the whole health of women and their babies. 

As Moore says, “PDHC promotes life and healthy outcomes both during and after pregnancy.”

Moore expects her four central Ohio locations to increase their reach by 20 percent thanks to the new funding stream. In the last year—prior to the funding—PDHC saw a 12 percent uptick in client visits and served over 12,000 men, women and students at no cost. 

Tweet This: #Ohio #prolife center working to build upon 37 years of life-saving care. @PDHC_Cares

Moore attributes the increase to the decision to restructure. After closing one location that saw very few clients, the organization was able to reduce expenses, hire more staff, provide more support to their centers and extend its reach as a result.

“All families deserve to have the support they need to choose life and have a healthy family,” Moore said. 

Thanks to the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program, she is hoping to make that belief a reality for even more families in the coming year.

PDHC would like to thank Life Choices Health Network of Joplin, MO for their inspiration and permission to replicate their Day In The Life video.

Katie Franklin

Katie Franklin is the former director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013. Katie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Miles and daughter Elizabeth.

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