Some of the most valuable allies to a sidewalk outreach team are area Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs). It is very important to try to develop a good working relationship with pregnancy resource centers.
PRCs usually have a well-developed resource list for pregnant mothers. They often provide many services to moms in vulnerable pregnancies. They sometimes have mobile ultrasound units that can be parked on the curb of abortion centers. They often already have connections to local pro-life doctors and other agencies.
Establish collaborative relationships
It is important to establish a collaborative rather than competitive relationship. PRCs rely on donations just like other pro-life ministries do. Sometimes the ministries can be suspicious of each other. It is very important to show the value of working together and not going after each other’s donors or becoming territorial over clients.
When contacting PRCs
When moms view their babies on an ultrasound, the overwhelming majority of them choose life; therefore, sidewalk counselors should have the numbers of local PRCs on speed dial. It is always important when calling to schedule an appointment for an abortion-minded mom that you introduce yourself and tell the PRC that you are standing in front of the abortion center with a mom who would like to see her baby. That lets the PRC know that it is imperative the mom be seen as soon as possible.
Slightly different populations served
In general, PRCs see an abortion-vulnerable population. In contrast, sidewalk counselors see mostly an abortion-determined population. Each ministry is uniquely trained to deal with the population with whom they have the most experience. That understanding helps seal a collaborative effort.
For example, when the sidewalk outreach presence increased in Southern California, one PRC told Love Life that their business increased by 90%. That is staggering and shows how powerful the presence of sidewalk counselors can be in helping women consider life rather than abortion.
Benefits of a close relationship and how to develop one
In our area, we work very closely with a wonderful PRC that also provides a mobile ultrasound unit to the abortion center sidewalk. Our roles are clearly delineated to prevent clashes or controversy. The sonographer, who is a volunteer of the PRC, is the only one that will talk about medical issues and she is the one that performs the ultrasound. The sidewalk counselors are the ones that go over the mom’s struggles, share the mentorship program and resources of Love Life, and then share the Gospel. We have a very good relationship because the roles are clearly outlined and defined ahead of time. Training for a counselor to go on the mobile ultrasound unit is a collaborative effort between the PRC staff and the sidewalk training director.
Policies in getting mothers to PRCs
Not every facility will have a mobile ultrasound unit but nearly every community will have a PRC. It is very important to offer a free ultrasound to moms who are considering abortion. Therefore, if a mom chooses to go for the ultrasound, it is beneficial to determine ahead of time a plan in case the mother doesn’t have a car or a ride to get to the PRC.
Love life has no official policy regarding whether a counselor should drive the mother to the Pregnancy Resource Center or not. There are obviously some risks involved if the counselor chooses to drive the mother. The counselor will be driving a stranger who often is in a very bad economic situation. In general, if the counselor chooses to do this, it is safer and probably wiser to have another counselor in the car with her. If that is not possible and a baby’s life is on the line, I would probably always choose to risk driving the mother to the PRC.
Option #1: Driving the mom to a PRC has benefits
There is another wonderful benefit of driving a mother to the PRC. Many times when I have done so, I have extended time to share the gospel and to solidify the choice for life. I have seen mothers submit their lives to the Lord on our way to the PRC. I know it is much more likely that they will stay firm in a choice for life if there has been at least a beginning understanding of Jesus as Lord of their lives.
Option #2: Call an Uber
Another option which is safer, albeit more costly, would be to call and pay for an Uber to bring the mom to the PRC and then to return her home. If the ministry can afford this, it is certainly another good option.
The issue of confidentiality when working with the PRC is really critical. They are providing medical services to the mother on the ultrasound and HIPAA laws regarding patient confidentiality apply. Sidewalk counselors should be careful not to divulge any information that could identify the mother or compromise her privacy on issues that were learned in conjunction with working with the Pregnancy Resource Center.
It is good to determine ahead of time who will be doing follow up and the type of follow up that will be done. For example, in our area, because we provide an excellent mentorship program through Love Life, follow-up with moms on the mobile ultrasound unit is provided by the sidewalk counselors. If that mother decides to continue going to the Pregnancy Resource Center for classes or supplies, they often provide a good bit of the follow-up. Sometimes, both our ministries will join forces in helping the mom.
Keep communication open
I think the key to keeping the relationship positive and fruitful is communication between the two ministries with clear delineation of roles. It is also important that each understand and express how much we value each other. One of the ways that we show our gratitude to our local PRC is when we post on social media something regarding a baby saved, we give credit to the mobile ultrasound unit and staff. We tag the Pregnancy Resource Center. It shows that we are a team and proud of the alliance.