When “Ava” walked into Planned Parenthood in Evansville, Indiana last fall for an abortion, the 20-year-old college student was told she would have to come back due to a staffing shortage. Fearful and desperate, she searched her phone for an alternative. What happened next changed the course of her life, and saved that of her unborn baby.
“She was very anxious and wanted to find out for sure if she was pregnant so she could get an abortion,” said John Boggeman, ECLC’s director of Family Care Services. “During counseling, she revealed that the father of the baby was a college friend, and her first sexual contact ever. Her parents are strong Christians. She is very active in her home church and was terrified of her parents or church family finding out she was pregnant. She said, ‘I know about fornication, and that abortion is killing,’ but abortion seemed to be her only option.”
As the young woman cried, the nurse reassured her of God’s love, no matter her decision, and that she recognized the difficulty of the crossroads at which Ava found herself. She told Ava that though abortion seemed like the easiest way to prevent other people from knowing about the pregnancy and her decision, she would always know and carry the decision with her throughout her life.
“She shared that we believe babies do not ‘happen by accident’ but that God is the One Who gives life, that children are a blessing from God,” Boggeman said.
With a positive pregnancy test and friends waiting for her in the lobby, Ava allowed the nurse to pray for her and to schedule an ultrasound for the following week. The clinic staff gathered that day to pray for the young woman and her decision. The group also prayed Ava would tell her mother, and that her mother would become her daughter’s “advocate.”
The staff of the Evansville Christian Health Clinic | Photo Courtesy: Evansville Christian Health Clinic
Clinic staff called Ava the next week to check on her and ask if she had decided what she would do. The nurse also wanted to know if she planned to return for her ultrasound appointment. That’s when ECLC learned of the girl’s change of heart and direction.
“She said, ‘I’m keeping the baby,’” Boggeman said. “She was asked if she had told her mother yet, and she replied, ‘Yes, I did tell her, and her reaction was much different than I thought it was going to be...she is really supporting me!’”
When Ava returned for her ultrasound, her parents and sister came with her. A clinic nurse took the opportunity to speak with Ava’s mother.
“She had called the girl apparently the same day as her initial appointment at the clinic,” Boggeman said. “The girl was crying and told her mother, ‘You are going to hate me!’ The mother’s immediate response was, ‘Are you pregnant?’ So [Ava] poured out her whole story. Talk about a direct answer to prayer! The family’s plan is for the girl to continue college and her mother will help care for the baby.”
Evansville Christian Health Clinic serves about 500 women annually. The clinic provides pregnancy and STD testing and treatment, limited ultrasounds and pap smears, all free of charge, and makes OB/GYN referrals. The health center also offers dental services and primary family care. Another 500 pregnant women are served in the clinic’s various programs, including Earn While You Learn, a pregnancy center curriculum which offers moms and dads parenting classes, bible studies, and more in exchange for “baby bucks,” which can be used to purchase baby items like formula, diapers, car seats, and strollers.
Tweet This: Evansville clinic serves about 500 women annually with free pregnancy testing, STD testing and treatment and ultrasound scans.
Most patients are college-age, but not all attend college. In fact, Boggeman said, nearly 60 percent of the women they see have no education beyond high school. In Evansville, one out of five people lives in poverty. Low wages and insufficient professional skills contribute to the reason for the clinic and its parent organization, the ECLC.
The mission of the organization is “to make a life changing spiritual impact that will restore people to productive and independent living through Jesus Christ,” according to the ECLC’s website. Developed more than 30 years ago, the faith-based organization, located in a 120-year-old monastery, attacks poverty in various ways, including no-cost and low-cost health care services, a food cooperative, and life skills classes.
"The problems of poverty and broken relationships, and the desire to help those in a place of need move toward their God-given potential are why the Evansville Christian Life Center and the Evansville Christian Health Clinic exist,” Boggeman said. "All our services are designed to help someone move forward on a path toward their potential. The Health Clinic and its pregnancy, medical, and dental services are critical components of that path."
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