“Wow! I can’t believe the heartbeat sounds so strong!”
Hearing the first sounds of life during an ultrasound was a revelation to Stephanie, an Options client who was considering abortion.
Before her Options ultrasound, Stephanie* thought she would have an abortion but when she left, she wasn’t so sure. Hearing her baby’s heartbeat and learning that she had a viable pregnancy were new pieces of information that were potential game changers.
As vital as the ultrasound was to her decision making process, Stephanie almost didn’t have one because of the way she was treated at another pregnancy center.
A few days earlier, Stephanie scheduled an online appointment with another agency because their website promised free ultrasounds on the first visit. She figured she could have her scan even sooner than the one she scheduled with Options. Since she was in crisis, she was impatient for medical information and eager for guidance about the health concerns that pulled her towards abortion.
She received neither.
Instead, when Stephanie and her boyfriend Adam arrived at that center, they were ushered into a waiting area where the receptionist confiscated their cell phones as a precaution against them shooting video.
Next, Stephanie met with a counselor who asked her questions about her faith. When pressed, Stephanie responded that she didn’t want to talk about God and religion but had come there because their website advertised free ultrasounds and pregnancy guidance. The counselor ignored Stephanie’s request and insisted that she review a religious website written by pastors for skeptics or else she would be denied the ultrasound.
Feeling confused and somewhat disrespected, Stephanie asked to have her’s and Adam’s cell phones returned, and then she left, without ever having the ultrasound.
“Their website was misleading. We went there under false pretenses. No one talked to me about my pregnancy options or my health and they didn’t answer any of my medical questions.I didn’t feel like they cared about me.I felt very pressured when I was there because they kept pushing their beliefs on me.”
Stephanie’s unfortunate experience at this pregnancy center made her doubt the legitimacy of Options’ claims as being a safe haven where conflicted women can receive nonjudgmental pregnancy counseling and a free ultrasound. Stephanie feared that she would again be put into a situation where she would be forced to view a religious website or be be told how she should respond to her own pregnancy.
Yet something told her to return to Options. She remembered how kind everyone was when she came here for pregnancy verification, and she really needed to talk to someone about her crisis.
Her boyfriend was being deployed with the military in a few weeks and he didn’t want a baby right now. To complicate matters, Stephanie had a preexisting condition that could endanger her life and impact this and future pregnancies. The ultrasound would help determine if she had an ectopic pregnancy.
Stephanie never expected to feel the way she did after she heard her baby’s heartbeat. When she met with her Options counselor she poured out her emotions. Stephanie admitted that she was leaning towards abortion because she felt it’s what Adam wanted.
Her counselor listened quietly and then asked Stephanie a pivotal question:
Did you ever tell Adam that you might feel differently?
This one gentle question jump started a frank conversation about abortion and opened the door for Stephanie and Adam to explore their options together.
As Stephanie left she admitted she had a lot to think about and thanked her counselor and nurse manager for the ultrasound and the time they both spent with her.
“You gave me the freedom to talk about all of my options. I knew Options was a Christian organization when I first came here, but you didn’t push me or preach at me. I feel like you really cared about me and you listened to how I felt. You do exactly what it says on the Options website. I’m so glad we came back.”
The promise of free pregnancy verification and ultrasound invites women like Stephanie to our center for the first time. Helping women to make an informed decision based on the facts is what we’re all about. But it’s the care and respect women find at Options that draws them back again and again.
As it was for Stephanie, ultrasound can be a powerful tool for learning about pregnancy and what’s happening to your body inside the womb. Some women see this opportunity as vital to their decision making process before ending a pregnancy or choosing to carry.
We’re are thankful Stephanie reconsidered and chose to have an ultrasound at Options despite her difficulties at another center. What’s more, we are encouraged that Stephanie returned to Options not because we gave her all the answers, but because she felt safe enough to ask all her questions.