Pregnancy center serves in heart of abortion battleground

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – BsideU for Life has been serving women in the Louisville metroplex since 1988, oftentimes in close proximity to the few women’s health clinics that provide abortion services in Kentucky.

“Our mission is to provide the hope and support of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are affected by unplanned pregnancies, walking beside them for life,” said Monica Henderson, executive director of BsideU for Life. “We’re gospel-centered, we believe in the sanctity of life, we’re prayerful, we walk in integrity, we’re intentional, we’re relational and we’re committed to discipleship.”

Formerly known as A Woman’s Choice and Necole’s Place, BsideU for Life rebranded in 2017, bringing their medical clinic and life skills ministry under one banner.

“When we rebranded as BsideU for Life, it wasn’t just for the life of the baby. We want a long-term relationship with the women that we interact with,” Henderson explained. “For some of our clients, they’ve been connected to us literally for years and know that they can always come back.”

Like many pregnancy care centers, BsideU offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, options counseling, and STI testing and treatment. They also provide educational services like GED support, parenting classes, stress and anger management, financial readiness, and Bible studies.

However, BsideU is unique among pregnancy care centers in Kentucky because their W. Market Street location shares a wall with one of the state’s two abortion providers: EMW Women’s Surgical Center. In the mid-90s BsideU was located next to a different abortion clinic that has since closed, and later shared a duplex with a satellite office of Planned Parenthood before they were licensed by the state to perform abortions.  

“It’s kind of part of our DNA to go close to the abortion clinic, or clinics depending on the situation,” Henderson said.

BsideU for Life has been close to the EMW since 2000, and the proximity has provided some unique challenges.

“It’s always been a very contentious block because of the clinic escorts and the presence of pro-life advocates out on the sidewalk,” Henderson said. “It kind of put a target on us from the pro-abortion community—a bigger target. I think pregnancy centers feel like there’s always a target; it just became more pronounced when we moved physically right next door to EMW.”

Clinic escorts, a group of pro-abortion volunteers who usher women into the EMW, often stand near the BSideU parking lot and yell at patients.

“When a woman is pulling into our parking lot and we want to serve her, and a clinic escort is standing at the edge of our parking lot yelling at her that we are not the abortion clinic and that we do bad things, it’s hard,” Henderson said.

“If we have a girl coming to our center and we have someone screaming and hollering at her, telling her not to come here (and) that we’re a fake clinic, those kind of things, that can stir your heart up a little bit,” added Theresa Skeeters, a client advocate who has served with BsideU for the past 15 years. “It has a negative effect. No one likes to be screamed and hollered at, and the girls are already nervous before they even get out of that car.”

“We focus on the woman who’s in crisis, not the escort. We’re there to serve her,” Henderson explained.

Though BsideU staff and volunteers have experienced opposition on the sidewalks outside their W. Market Street location, they have a great deal of support from local churches. These partners participate in the annual baby bottle campaign, send volunteers, or support BsideU through their mission budgets.

“We have some really fantastic church relationships, and we want to maintain them not just because they support us and what we do, (but because) we want them to provide church homes for our clients,” said Henderson. “We’re always trying to connect (our clients) to healthy, well-balanced, supportive evangelical churches.”

BsideU served more than 650 women last year alone, and will continue loving and serving families even if the abortion landscape in America changes over the next few years.

“Women are still going to have unplanned pregnancies until Jesus returns,” Henderson said. “Pregnancy center work will not end if Roe v. Wade were overturned, or abortion were made illegal, or restrictions were strengthened to the point where it was incredibly difficult to get an abortion. Pregnancy center work is still going to happen.”

To learn more about BsideU for Life, visit bsideu.org.

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