There’s a new bundle of joy among the pro-life movement in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Her name is Little Bee, and her purpose is to change the hearts and minds of abortion-minded men and women.
She brings comfort and compassion and offers life-affirming options to those she encounters.
Little Bee is a 26-foot mobile ultrasound unit, a tangible pro-life witness on wheels. And she’s getting ready to make her debut on the streets outside of abortion clinics in Harrisburg and York.
Supporters who gathered at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Enola on Sept. 21 for the annual 40 Days for Life Campaign kickoff celebrated Little Bee’s unveiling.
The mobile unit is the result of four years of fundraising and planning by Undefeated Courage, an organization that ministers to women and men considering abortion and offers life-affirming alternatives.
“The mobile unit will offer immediate intervention, right outside the clinics,” said Becky Biter, founder of Undefeated Courage. “We will be able to meet with a woman to see what her needs are immediately, and offer a free pregnancy test and ultrasound.”
A refurbished RV that previously served as a fire and police command center, Little Bee offers an inviting and comfortable place for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy to talk about her needs and fears with compassionate counselors.
A seating area is furnished with a feminine touch of plush pillows and cushions, alongside a beverage station offering decaf coffee or hot chocolate. A private, well-appointed bathroom with a pass-through window ensures dignity for pregnancy testing. The back of the mobile unit features a private and comfortable space for professional sonographers to perform ultrasounds, with large-screen televisions for women to see their developing baby. The mobile unit is also fitted with a 360-degree security camera, to ensure the safety of clients and personnel.
“When people tour it, they fall in love with the fact that it is warm and inviting, not cold and clinical,” Biter said. “We went to great lengths to make it feel comfortable, like you’re sitting in someone’s living room with people who love you.”
That’s exactly because the men and women of Undefeated Courage love those they counsel outside of abortion clinics, Biter said.
“We want to drive them away from abortion because we love them,” said Biter, who often talks to the women she meets about her own abortion experience.
“I love them enough that I don’t want them to go through what I did. We’re there to rescue women from the scourge of abortion. We know what it does to women and men, and it just breaks our hearts to see the self-loathing, the breaking up of families, the feeling that they’re unable to be loved. You just wish they could have a glimpse of what it causes, to keep themselves from going through with it. You want to save them from the devastation,” she said.
Turning men and women away from abortion and toward life-affirming choices starts with a conversation, Biter said.
“You have to establish trust immediately. We want to help her, we want to know why she’s at the clinic. We’re there to redirect women to pregnancy centers, or to offer pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, and always to show them life-affirming options. But you have to start with a conversation as if she’s your best friend,” Biter said.
Backdropped by Little Bee at the 40 Days for Life kickoff, attendees were called to continue their pro-life witness throughout the annual campaign, which began Sept. 23 and continues until Nov. 1 on the public right-of-way outside the Planned Parenthood clinics in York and Harrisburg. Information on the campaigns and how to sign up for an hour of prayer and peaceful witness can be found at www.40daysforlife.com/york and www.40daysforlife.com/harrisburg.
Addressing attendees on the front lawn of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bishop Gainer heartened the men and women for their dedicated witness to life.
“The witness to our culture and our brothers and sisters of the God-given dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death is an important work to be done,” he said.
He spoke of the significance of the number 40 in the Bible, from Noah’s 40 days and 40 nights on the arc and the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the desert, to Jesus’ 40 days and nights of prayer and fasting.
“Some Biblical scholars say the number 40 is symbolic of ‘however long it takes,” Bishop Gainer remarked. “We’re committed to ‘40 days’ for life: As long as it takes, we will witness to the God-given dignity of every human life.”
Standing in front of Little Bee at the kickoff event, Krishan Keck, Clinical Advisor for Undefeated Courage, said the organization affirms the dignity of life and puts it into practice by ministering to women in crisis pregnancy.
Keck said his early childhood experiences and his conversion to the Church in 2011 led him to serve in a pro-life pregnancy center and ultimately with Undefeated Courage.
“I was born two months prematurely, and I have a twin brother who developed cerebral palsy. I always knew that even though we were very ill when we were young, we still had dignity and purpose,” Keck said. “It was out of my own personal experience that I realized the value of all life. Regardless of how a child is conceived, that child’s life has purpose and meaning.”
As a male nurse working in a pro-life healthcare setting, Keck said he offers women in a crisis pregnancy the care and respect they might not find from the men in their lives.
“If a woman feels isolated or alone in her pregnancy, that lack of support might cause her to make decisions she might regret later,” he said. “I think my presence as a man can offer a different perspective, especially if the men in her life haven’t treated her well or are pushing her to have an abortion. As men, we are supposed to care for women and respect them.”
“Abortion is a human rights issue. Men should lend their voices in support of the fundamental right to life, and be part of the affirmation of the dignity of every human person,” he said.
Undefeated Courage plans to bring Little Bee into service sometime during the 40 Days for Life campaigns in Harrisburg and York, with presence at clinics in both cities, Biter said.
In order to bring the mobile unit to women facing a crisis pregnancy, a professional nurse sonographer is needed, as well as volunteers to serve as intake counselors and drivers. Information about the paid sonographer position and volunteer opportunities can be obtained by visiting www.undefeatedcourage.org or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our constituents are the soul of our ministry,” Biter said. “We couldn’t do what we do without their support and donations. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for those who have given and supported us. Our response is to go out and do the work of saving lives of women and their babies.”
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness