WASHINGTON, D.C. – A fleet of mobile crisis pregnancy centers is being deployed in cities across the nation to provide women considering abortion an alternative.
Save the Storks, a pro-life ministry, explains its mission to “empower abortion-minded mothers all over America to choose life,” according to its site.
Launched by Founder and President Joe Baker, Save the Storks now has four mobile “Stork Buses” that operate in partnership with local crisis pregnancy centers, with plans for three more soon.
The centers operate the vehicles outside of abortion clinics.
“We don’t want to wait for them to come to us, we go to them,” Baker says of women considering abortion.
“There’s a statistic that 84 percent of post-abortive women felt cornered by abortion – that it was their only choice,” Baker told WND. “We are catering to those women and trying to show them there is an alternative.”
Through the use of the state-of-the-art “Stork Buses,” made by Mercedes Benz, sidewalk counselors are able to provide free pregnancy testing and a sonogram to abortion-minded women in a confidential, comfortable, and professional setting – just outside the clinic they were planning to visit.
Baker emphasized that the goal of Stork Buses, and his entire ministry, is not to be activists for a cause or get laws changed, but to provide women with crucial information they might otherwise not have access to.
“We’re not activists. We’re there to be a competitor and offer an alternative to the women there,” Baker said. “Think of it like a Burger King deciding to open next to a McDonalds,” he added jokingly.
He also emphasized that they go to great lengths to make sure they are obeying all laws.
“We are professionals, we make sure there isn’t a chance we are breaking a law or violating an ordinance,” Baker said.
Save the Stork launched its first Stork Bus in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with the Downtown Pregnancy Center, which now owns and operates the vehicle at one of five abortion clinics in the area.
“Abortion on demand is rapidly growing in Dallas and so is the need for a Stork Bus,” the Save the Stork website explains.
The second Stork Bus was deployed in Englewood, N.J. The pregnancy center they partnered with had previously tried to go mobile with an RV, but due to strict zoning laws in the city, it was deemed illegal to park. The center reached out to Save the Stork and remarkably discovered that the Stork Bus fit within just two inches of the city’s legal limits, making the second mobile center a reality.
New Jersey has some of the loosest abortion laws in the country. New Jersey does not require parental consent to receive an abortion, nor does it requiring any kind of waiting period. The state’s abortion rate is also 12 points higher than the national average.
The third mobile center was launched in Boston, and another was launched in Florida on Feb. 22, and plans for centers in Merced, Calif., a second in Boston, and one in Michigan are already underway in partnership with local pregnancy centers.
Baker saw a need for on-site abortion alternatives, because many pregnancy centers were difficult to find and many women weren’t even aware they existed.
“Many crisis pregnancy centers across the country are still advertising in the Yellow Pages,” Baker explained, pointing out the need to meet women where they are.
The Stork Buses use state-of-the-art technology, which does come at a steep price. The bus costs an estimate $100,000, according to the website. But Baker noted that you can’t put a price tag on the equipment, because of how effective it is.
“For $25,000 of sonogram equipment you can see real facial expressions of your baby in real time,” Baker explained. “There’s something about that that really helps the woman bond with the baby and that’s incredibly powerful.”
“It’s actually the baby that persuades the mother to keep it. The sonogram really does the work itself,” Baker said, noting that three out of five women who board the Stork Bus will choose life.
“But it takes a sonographer who really wants to show the mother what’s going on – it takes one that really wants to capture that reality,” Baker added.
He’s no stranger to how powerful viewing a sonogram of your child can be.
“My wife [Vice President of Save the Storks, Ann Baker] is pregnant right now. This is our first child. When I get to see the sonogram, it makes my month. I grew up as a 100 percent prolife guy, but even I was awestruck when I was able to see that little baby in there,” Baker said.
Earlier this year, Save the Storks announced that it is this year’s national beneficiary for LIFE Runners’ 2014 A-Cross America Relay. Money raised will go toward placing more Stork Buses out on the road across America.
As part of the national 40 Days for Life, the relay will launch from New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on March 5. The East and West coast arms will meet in Sioux Falls, S.D., on April 13th to celebrate life.
The relay is made up of 1,103 individual five-kilometer legs across the country and participants will cover more than 4,089 miles collectively. The route passes through major cities and abortion facilities where we will stop to pray.
Baker says he expects to fill every leg of the relay with runners, but they are still taking more signups from interested runners. Interested runners can register online.
Save the Storks Tour will happen in Conjunction with A-Cross America Relay. There will be an event every other night of the relay, and the events will feature speakers Bob Lenz and Doug Tunney, as well as musicians Holly Starr and Tori Harris. More details on participating cities can be found online.