For prolife pregnancy centers that reach out to women and men facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, an up-to-date ultrasound machine is an amazing tool for helping people see the humanity of the unborn child.
An ultrasound machine is a significant investment, however, and can be difficult for centers to afford with budgets already stretched to their limits. In a quest to help the life-saving work of prolife pregnancy centers, the Knights of Columbus has quietly helped raise funds for purchasing hundreds of new ultrasound machines, including many in Michigan.
“We’ve helped centers get them from Sault St. Marie to Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, pretty much all over the state,” said Tom Wegener, a supreme director of the Knights of Columbus.
Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal benefit society. They believe human life is sacred from its beginning to its end, and that the right to life is the most basic right and condition for all other rights.
Tom said at their 2008 Supreme Convention in Quebec, the Knights approved a culture of life fund to promote several prolife initiatives. One of the initiatives created as a result was their Ultrasound Program; their Supreme Council will match all funds raised by local or state councils to purchase a new ultrasound machine for a prolife pregnancy center.
“The Order wanted to make a public stand, and to have our members have a stake in it,” Tom said.
The first machine in Michigan purchased through the program was for the Center for Women pregnancy center in Jackson, in July 2009. Tom said 28 more machines have been purchased in Michigan since then, and number 30 is currently pending. According to the Knights of Columbus website, the organization had purchased 334 ultrasound machines as of April 2013, for a total cost of more than $8.5 million in donations. Tom said they have purchased so many machines that they are able to get a bulk rate on them.
“The ball began to roll after that first one, and the program continues to grow,” Tom said.
The local council in Jackson raised more than $12,000 for the first Michigan machine using small fundraisers and a baby bottle drive. Tom said other councils have used pancake breakfasts, fish frys, direct appeals to members and other methods for raising the funds.
“The Knights are very good at fundraising,” Tom said. “We’ll take a project on and continue working to make it happen.”
Several qualifications exist for pregnancy centers to receive the machines. They have to be prolife, willing to take one, and committed enough to be able to afford the operating and staffing costs for the years they will utilize the machine.
With the experience of helping place 30 machines, Tom said the Michigan council has a plan in place to help local councils deal with paperwork and planning.
“They have all of the steps, they know exactly what to do,” Tom said.
Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan, said, “Right to Life of Michigan and the entire prolife movement are very grateful to the Knights of Columbus in Michigan for sponsoring this lifesaving project. This is only one example of how this courageous group of men put their prolife commitment into action.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or would like information about adoption or post-abortion assistance, there are options. For help, please call 1-800-57WOMAN, a toll-free hotline, or view our online listings for a help center near you.