Knights hope ultrasound effort will change hearts

William Jackson Clark

William Jackson ClarkA massive fundraising effort by the S.C. Knights of Columbus is successfully providing ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers.

Leaders in the pro-life movement say up to 90 percent of women facing crisis pregnancies choose to have their baby after viewing an ultrasound image.

The state initiative started in August 2010, with the goal of placing five machines in different regions around the state. So far, the Crisis Pregnancy Center of the Lowcountry on Hilton Head Island, the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center in Charleston, and the Palmetto Pregnancy Center in Lake Wylie have all received one, said Jim St. Clair, pro-life chairman for the S.C. Knights of Columbus State Council.

A fourth facility, the Daybreak Crisis Pregnancy Center in Columbia, is awaiting final approval. The Knights are looking for a center in the Greenville area.

Statewide, councils have raised $63,000 to purchase the machines, which can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000.

The organization’s Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn., provides matching funds from its national Ultrasound Initiative, which means $126,000 has been made available for the project in South Carolina, according to St. Clair.

Since the national initiative started in 2009, 82 machines have been placed in pregnancy centers around the country, he said.

Centers are screened to make sure their practices are in line with church teaching, and must meet other criteria.

“We don’t want to support organizations that promote contraception, or that refer any woman to an abortion facility,” St. Clair said. “The center must be respectful to the faith of Catholic clients and volunteers, and we also make sure they have adequate insurance, training to do ultrasounds and a medical doctor that oversees their ultrasound program.”

St. Clair said the Knights’ Ultrasound Initiative is a new and positive approach to saving human lives.

“We have to slowly educate folks instead of fighting against the courts and in the political arena,” he said. “We decided to go the other direction and change the hearts of people. Those machines save a baby nearly every time they use them because the mother can see the baby and hear the heart beating.”