When the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, it wasn’t the sinking of the ship that ultimately killed 1,500 people; it was the lack of preparation.
With a passenger list of 2,224 souls, the Titanic was equipped with only enough lifeboats to carry 1,178 people. What had caused engineers, builders, and even the captain to overlook the need for more lifeboats?
Because the Titanic was “unsinkable.”
A little over a year ago a bill to defund Planned Parenthood passed in the US House 241 to 187. At the time, there was no real hope for the bill to pass both chambers and be signed into law by our president, but under a new administration such a bill may well become law.
What does it mean to have a half-billion dollars of taxpayer money taken away from Planned Parenthood? What is the impact if Planned Parenthood closes their doors?
Planned Parenthood is a Titanic of sorts, and like the Titanic with its lack of lifeboats, I question whether we, the pro-life movement, are ready to serve the needs of 2.5 million people.
It’s estimated that there are somewhere around 3,500+ pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) throughout the U.S. However, many do not provide any health services. So let’s assume only half do in some form or another. That leaves 1,750 PRCs to care for the needs of 2.5 million people.
Now obviously not all 9.5 million services currently provided by Planned Parenthood would be picked up by PRCs. Hospitals, community health centers, and other nonprofits and medical institutions would also help care for the varying needs of these 2.5 million men and women.
But even if PRCs only served half of the 2.5 million people currently going to Planned Parenthood, that would mean that each of these 1,750 centers would have to care for some 857 more clients each year.
Already, many of these PRCs are on increasingly small and tight budgets – many operating entirely on volunteer help. How will these centers care for the needs of 857 more clients each year?
The answer is… they can’t.
I know. I am the director of one such nonprofit. Right now we simply cannot care for an additional 857 people each year.
Confidence is good. But confidence without forethought is carelessness.
“Pro-life” is not just a statement, a vote, or a political idea. It is an action that reflects a belief. And for those who are pro-women, pro-family, and pro-helping those in need, we strive to always give the best care, the greatest services, and the most loving support possible.
However, this level of care, service, and support would not be possible should today, tomorrow, or even sometime in 2017, we add an additional 1.25 million people to care for. It would be too overwhelming. The finances, the staff, the training, the supplies, the marketing, it’s not in place for this level of demand.
So what can we begin to do now, before Planned Parenthood is defunded, to prepare to care for women and men who will be in need of services?
I know you hear about giving a lot from those in the nonprofit community – especially the pro-life world. But as I referenced above, often times, PRCs and other life-affirming nonprofits are working on shoestring budgets – attempting to provide services and often times competing on the level of multi-million dollar agencies.
A couple week ago my friend Jamie wrote about the value of giving. As a director of a non-profit that serves women and men facing pregnancy decisions, when someone comes to me, unsolicited by myself or my staff, and says they want to become a monthly partner I am both excited and encouraged. It’s inspiring because it’s a reminder that “Oh yeah, we are not alone in serving our community.”
- Make the mission serving those facing pregnancy decisions and not defunding Planned Parenthood.
Should those who are pro-women, pro-family, and pro-helping those in need want Planned Parenthood defunded? Absolutely. Should that be our primary mission? Maybe not. Some people and groups are definitely called to work with our politicians towards the defunding of Planned Parenthood. But we should also focus on how we can better serve our community.
Our mission, vision, and values should reflect our love for those facing a pregnancy decision – not our desire to see Planned Parenthood defunded.
If we all solely focus on the defunding of Planned Parenthood, then we’ll likely be distracted from building, creating, and investing in the life-affirming community that will serve the needs of these 1.25 million women and men.
- Serve those facing pregnancy decisions.
I’m going to be candid: it is not solely the job of pregnancy resource centers to serve those facing pregnancy decisions. It is the job of the Church and of all Jesus’ followers. It is the job of those who care about their community and those in need. It is the job of those who are pro-women and pro-family. It is communities that change communities – not nonprofits, not government agencies, not institutions.
And serving people facing pregnancy decisions is not always glamorous. It’s not always fun. It’s not always neat. And it’s rarely simple. It’s messy, complicated, overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating, and very much needed. It is only by getting involved and serving that we, the pro-women, the pro-family, and the pro-life communities will be able to fully care for the 1.25 million women and men in need of Planned Parenthood’s services today.
So are we prepared for Planned Parenthood to be defunded? No.
Can we be? Absolutely.
And what role will you play in this preparation? Because whatever your role, you have the opportunity to be the hope in someone’s story.