By Shannon Elrod, R.N., B.S.N.
Director of Nursing Services at
The Keim Centers
Director of Nursing Services at
The Keim Centers
The Keim Center clinics offer medical services at no charge to clients. These medical services are of value to our community as a whole, but especially to the woman who is considering abortion. The medical services are provided by licensed Registered Nurses (R.N.) working under the supervision of our Medical Director, Dr. Diana Fedei, M.D. Lab-quality pregnancy tests are provided in all the centers, but when performed and read by a R.N., this becomes medically relevant and the results can now be provided to the patient in the form of a “Proof of Pregnancy.” This Proof of Pregnancy letter can be used by a patient to apply for insurance, WIC or other programs to help meet practical needs that empower her to carry her baby to term, by providing resources. The nurses also provide education on prenatal care, education on abortion and triage for medical concerns that need further medical attention.
Limited prenatal ultrasound is offered to our patients to confirm that she has a viable intrauterine pregnancy and the gestational age. A positive pregnancy test alone does not answer the question, “Am I pregnant?” Why would a woman considering abortion want an ultrasound at The Keim Centers? Legally, in the state of Virginia, a woman is required to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion and be offered the opportunity to view the image. An ultrasound can be very expensive – up to $300. The Keim Centers provides this service of no charge to the patient.
The woman considering abortion is interested in the ultrasound for several reasons. If we put ourselves in her shoes, she needs to know how far along she is to know the cost for abortion and if she is within the limits to have abortion be a legal option for her. She is also hoping that the ultrasound will show there is not a viable pregnancy – essentially a miscarriage. How much fear and anxiety is she experiencing that she hopes me, or one of the other three nurses performing ultrasound, will tell her she is having a miscarriage? This hurts my heart. Any woman who has experienced a miscarriage knows how devastating and personal this is to her. Yet a woman facing the seemingly insurmountable situation that is causing her to consider abortion would rather be told that she is having a miscarriage than have to make the decision regarding abortion.
I have learned that no woman wants to have an abortion. She is feeling trapped, desperate and incredibly fearful. I fully acknowledge that it takes courage to come through the doors of The Keim Centers. She is beginning to face the very truth that creates such over-whelming fear in her.
So, what are the benefits of ultrasound? Ultrasound is a great tool, unlike any other, to reveal what is happening in secret – inside of her body, where no one but God can see. Ultrasound provides a window into this secret place. Psalm 139:15 says, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.” God knows this little one intimately as He knows each of us. This little one has value and ultrasound is providing the tool to show the value and dignity of this little life. A woman in early pregnancy is physically experiencing exhaustion, sick and generally miserable. That is in the most planned of pregnancies! Imagine feeling this way physically and then not wanting to be pregnant; terrified of the life you know being forever changed and seemingly at this moment, for the worse. Pregnancy isn’t representing life for her – it’s representing the end of whatever life she is seeking.
Being told that you have had a positive pregnancy test is peeling back one of the many layers of denial wrapped around a woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy. The ultrasound peels back several more layers of denial. It can be overwhelming. Any new mother or father who has seen the ultrasound of their pre-born child for the first time remembers the overwhelming feelings when first seeing the beating heart of their child or the first early movements around nine weeks, visible on ultrasound. It is no less powerful for the woman in an unplanned pregnancy – maybe even more powerful. Ultrasound is powerful for the fathers as well. His body feels no different after hearing that his partner is pregnant. “Maybe she isn’t telling the truth. Maybe there is some other explanation,” are often statements he will verbalize. But ultrasound peels back those layers of denial and it can be a profound moment for him as well. “This is really happening,” as one father said. Or another young man who said, “This changes everything.”
Ultrasound never replaces the importance of the relationship between the counselor and the patient or the nurse and the patient. One human caring for another is powerful. Communicating and demonstrating the love of our Savior in a fallen, broken and depraved world is essential. However, ultrasound is the only tool we have right now to show the amazing handiwork of God’s Masterpiece.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14