By Kelsey Brown
Parkville Womens Clinic (PWC) is situated in a quiet suburb just outside of Kansas City. The clinic is part of the Missouri Knights of Columbus’ Meet Life program, which seeks to measurably reduce abortion numbers in Missouri with a three-pronged strategy: providing ultrasound machines, Vitae’s digital marketing expertise and resources/support from local Pregnancy Help Centers. The Executive Director of the PWC, Sonya Rice, shares how the program has made a significant impact in her area.

“During COVID, the leads we received from Vitae ads poured in. We were seeing more abortion-determined women during that time than I had seen in my 15 years at Parkville Women’s Clinic,” Rice noted. “It greatly impacts us to know that your donors believe in the work that we do. We don’t have the budget to be able to hire marketing agencies, so our (collaboration) with Vitae is such a gift to us.” Most recently, the PWC was able to make a difference in the life of Gabrielle*, an abortion-determined woman. This is her story.

In between her two jobs, Gabrielle had just a few minutes to take a pregnancy test – it was positive. After that, it was impossible to focus at her job when all she could think was, “I don’t have a choice. I have to get an abortion.” Not only was she working two jobs to provide for herself and her family abroad, the thought of bringing a baby into the picture seemed impossible.

At her first doctor appointment, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and an abnormally shaped uterus. Due to these complications, she would require a C-section, otherwise the baby would suffer asphyxiation during birth. The doctor explained that this would likely be her only chance to have a child. When asked about abortion, the doctor replied, “I save babies, I don’t kill them.” As Gabrielle left her appointment and the doors closed behind her, she knew she had to seek help elsewhere.

She saw a Vitae ad online for the Parkville Women’s Clinic and decided to make an appointment with the intention of getting an abortion. She was disappointed, yet again, when the nurses disclosed that “PWC is not an abortion facility and does not make referrals.” Gabrielle underwent an ultrasound and learned she was 9 weeks pregnant. Gabrielle’s mind raced, “I don’t have a choice … not with all that is going on in my life … I don’t have time … I just can’t have a baby right now ….” She had been working two jobs to financially support her mother and stepfather, as well as her brother’s family until he was released from prison. She had supported her family for so long, she wondered where her much needed support would come from.

When Sonya Rice saw the look on Gabrielle’s face, she asked to speak with her. The PWC director sat down beside her and said, “Is that what you want? To choose abortion?” Gabrielle replied, “Deep down, I don’t want to do this.” Rice believed that Gabrielle needed someone to empower her to make a decision in her own best interest. Rice then said, “When you pour yourself out for everyone else and no one is pouring into you, you are empty. We want you to pour into yourself and see your value and worth.” In that moment, the intention of Gabrielle’s heart changed. She felt Rice’s words of empowerment pouring into her. Gabrielle made the choice to have her baby.

Rice met with Gabrielle again a few days later. Gabrielle told her, “I spoke to my mom and stepdad and they are supporting my decision to have the baby. My stepdad is okay with me scaling back my financial support for my brother so that I can focus more on myself. I even cut back on my hours at work.” Rice could hardly believe what she was hearing. “You seem like a completely different person!” Rice exclaimed.

The next month, Rice heard the nurses talking to Gabrielle on the phone and asked to talk to her. “I’m having a girl, and I’m so excited!” Gabrielle eagerly updated Rice and thanked her for the support. “I was in a really dark place, and I almost ended, possibly, the only pregnancy I could have because I didn’t know how to love my family and myself at the same time.”

She went on to explain how she was going to take care of the baby and said, “I had some money saved up to finish school, but now I can use that money to take care of the baby.” Rice paused for a moment and said, “Why don’t you keep that money for school? You do so much for other people, let us take care of you this time. We would like to throw you a virtual baby shower!” Gabrielle was speechless. She eventually fought back the tears to say, “Nobody has ever taken care of me. I left home at 15 years old and since then, I have always taken care of myself.”
As Rice and the PWC staff plan the virtual baby shower, Gabrielle anxiously awaits the birth of her
beautiful baby girl.

*Name changed to protect privacy