In one year, 550 abortion-minded mothers changed their minds and chose life for their unborn babies. This change of heart was inspired by stepping aboard the Image Clear Ultrasound (ICU).
Statistics show that at least 80 percent of abortion-minded women change their minds once they see their unborn baby on an ultrasound. This makes having an ultrasound available, free-of-charge, a miracle.
The ICU mobile experience offers women a free ultrasound in a non-judgmental atmosphere. Pronounced "I-See-You", it shows the women that God sees them, ICU sees them, and that they care about their needs and their babies.
Stepping onto this RV gives women a whole new perspective.
Tracy Finnefrock, a counselor with ICU, recalls one young woman who came in with abortion on her mind. She hadn't been given the opportunity to see her baby on the ultrasound when she went to an abortion clinic.
"They didn't show her the screen. She just kept thinking about the 'ball' with a heartbeat," Finnefrock said.
Seeing the actual form of the baby on the screen made all of the difference and she chose life for her baby.
A Nine-Month Process
Every day at least one life is being saved due to the fact that one woman, Sylvia Slifko, answered "Yes" to God's call on her life.
The "God given" idea of ICU, said Slifko, the Founder, came after 20 years of her involvement in pro-life work. Slifko had helped start several pregnancy centers; even becoming Executive Director of one, only to find that something was missing.
"We weren't really seeing abortion-minded women," she said. "I feel God is at work at the pregnancy centers, but we just weren't fulfilling our mission. We had to have a new plan; something that worked better."
"Abortion-minded women don't go into pregnancy centers normally. It's rare," Adam Barton, Director of Ministry Development at ICU, added.
"I prayed about what we could do to reach more abortion-minded women," Slifco said, "and one day, after praying for many, many months, I felt like the Lord was saying to get an ultrasound and take it out on a mobile unit. Go to the women."
From that moment forward, one-by-one, the pieces came together and doors started opening and continue to open.
"In nine months it was all done; our baby was ready. It was all God. It all just worked together," Slifco said.
ICU officially became a non-profit in 2009. They began working with Pregnancy Solutions and Services in Akron and traveled to other locations, including an abortion clinic.
Shortly after, word began to spread and they were featured in "Life Issues", a national magazine, which brought in many calls from other pregnancy services wanting a similar mobile unit.
This began their expansion across the U.S. There are currently nine active mobiles ultrasound units across the U.S.
A Chance at Life
Since 1973, over 50,000,000 Americans had no chance at life. They weren't given an option. They didn't have a voice in the matter. ICU gives these babies a voice, allowing their mothers to see and hear their beating hearts on a screen; revealing the reality of their existence.
"I was adopted," Michael Homula, Executive Director of ICU shared, "In 1969 my birth mother was raped at an office party in Cleveland, while her husband was fighting in the Vietnam War. I've always thought about her."
"I'm sure it was just an ugly, confusing time for her. I think she engaged in the ultimate act of love which was to give me life," he continued.
ICU was formed to go out into the world, including outside of shopping centers and anywhere women are, to be available to them in their greatest time of need.
ICU's hope is not only to end as many abortions as possible, but bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to mothers in need of hearing the Good News.
"When I look at this I think this is how Jesus would handle a situation with a woman who found herself in an unplanned pregnancy. He would go to the heart of the matter. He would work on their hearts. He would reveal life and truth to them, then he would share with them how they could have eternal life, and that's exactly what this ministry does," Homula said.
"We want to show them the truth of the ultrasound. The ultrasound opens their eyes and shows them what the truth is, because we can't manufacture or fabricate that. That's what reality is. We pray that it opens their eyes, and their hearts are touched, and they bond with their baby in that instant and that it lasts a lifetime," Anne Marie Kirk, Sonographer at ICU, said.
A Beautiful Gift
When visiting the ICU mobile ultrasound unit, the girls are welcomed in privacy and treated with love, regardless of the decision they choose to make.
Each mobile unit has a nurse sonographer and a trained counselor.
"A free ultra sound is hard to come by. It's about $500 to get an ultrasound without insurance," Barton said.
Along with their free ultrasound, salvation through Jesus Christ, a new beginning, and life is offered to these girls and their babies. The volunteers talk and pray with the women and give them a Bible.
"You think about the situation that brings a woman to a mobile; they're broken, they're scared, confused, and they're often being pulled in different directions by family members, friends and possibly the father that's gotten them pregnant," Homula shared.
"The fields are ripe for a harvest in that scenario and so you can bring them on board and reveal life to them at the crossroads of decision. We're revealing life, and that also presents an opportunity to share the gospel," he continued.
"You're able to minister to them and show them that God has a plan and purpose for them. He wants to show them that they're precious and valuable," Finnefrock said.
"Over 350 people came to know the Lord for the first time. I don't know those kinds of numbers, even in a mega-church. Especially people's lives literally being saved," Barton said.
Keeping in Touch
Counseling, classes, resources, and follow-up appointments are also offered. They connect the women to a local pregnancy center and agencies that will meet each of their specific needs.
"To speak life to them from the beginning and be that intervention before they make a life altering decision that they're going to have to recover from is my heart; it's why I do what I do," Finnefrock shared.
She enjoys watching them go through the classes and come full-circle.
"They bring in their child and it's almost like your child. You look at it like it's your jewel," she said. "Ten months ago that baby was in danger of losing its life and never going to have an opportunity, but you've been able to see it through. You can't even put a price on something like that," she continued.
"Now many of these babies are toddlers and 5, 6, 7 years old. I saw a picture of one just recently," Barton said.
The Future of Mobile Outreach
The future is looking bright for ICU.
A mobile ultrasound unit in Cleveland is expected to be running before summer of 2011. A bus is also headed to Las Vegas soon.
"It's symbolic – sin city," Homula said, "The group in Las Vegas are absolutely committed people. Symbolically it's a huge deal."
They work daily to connect with others across the U.S. to get more mobiles set up and connected to pregnancy centers in different areas.
"It's beginning to change the mind of our culture. The girls are telling their friends. It's not just a blob of tissue anymore, they can actually see the baby," Slifko said.
What better way to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ is there than to go out into the world and meet people where they're at?
ICU welcomes and encourages others to jump on board and team up with them to bring a mobile to their area.
"We're all about new life. New life at birth and re-birth, new life in Christ," Homula said.
If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact me at Katie@akroneur.com.