KNIGHTS - The Knights of Columbus Nebraska State Council donated an ultrasound machine to a crisis pregnancy center in Kearney to help women at risk for abortion. Pictured are (from left) Rich Lowery, Nebraska Knights state treasurer; Butch Kreikemeier, Nebraska Knights state secretary; Mike Conrad, Nebraska Knights past state deputy and supreme director; Gaye Tillotson, Collage Center executive director; Jim Haiar, Nebraska Knights state deputy; Dr. Michelle Kueger, MD, Collage Center medical director; and Barb and Mike Thompson, previous Nebraska Knights State pro-life directors. (Courtesy photo)
KEARNEY (SNR) - Using a high-tech, 4-D ultrasound machine donated by the Knights of Columbus Nebraska State Council, a crisis pregnancy center in Kearney is helping women who are at risk for abortion choose to save their babies’ lives.
Collage Center, formerly called Life Choices Pregnancy Counseling and Information Services, reported that since the machine was installed Sep. 10, 2010, 16 women who were at risk for abortion decided to continue their pregnancies after receiving an ultrasound.
A total of 95 free ultrasound examinations had been provided as of Feb. 21, 2011. Nineteen of these women were at risk for abortion.
The state-of-the-art ultrasound machine was purchased with funds donated by the Knights of Columbus Nebraska State Council and matched by the Ultrasound Initiative, which has been in force since early 2009.
"We have a pro-life foundation, and we do collections across the state," explained Jim Haiar, state deputy.
One program is the "One Rose, One Life" collection, where Knights accept donations after Sunday Masses. Another fundraiser is the "Buck a Month Club." Knights can elect to contribute a dollar to the organization’s pro-life efforts, collected automatically when they pay their monthly dues.
The funds are used for several different pro-life activities, so it takes some time for the state council to save enough to purchase a 4-D ultrasound machine.
"It was right around $50,000," reported Mr. Haiar. "It was discounted by the manufacturer when they knew what we were doing with it."
A 3-D machine would cost less, but the images are so fuzzy, Mr. Haiar believes it would have less impact.
"The difference between the 4-D and the 3-D is amazing," he stated. "This is top-of-the-line stuff… you see the whole picture of that baby."
As fundraising continues, the Knights are preparing to purchase a second machine. They are looking for a crisis pregnancy center in western Nebraska that meets their criteria. Everything from the center’s ability to operate the machine to the building’s electric capabilities must be considered.
"This is a big commitment on our part, so we want whoever is getting it to put a big commitment into it, too," he said.
Collage Center was selected under the direction of Collage’s medical director, Dr. Michelle Kueger, MD, and the Center’s executive director, Gaye Tillotson.
Recent statistics show that 43% of American women have ended at least one pregnancy by age 45, a grave fact that spurs the Knights of Columbus to continue to work in various pro-life initiatives.
"At Collage Center, we have talked with many women who have expressed that choosing abortion did not solve their problems; it just created new ones," Mrs. Tillotson said. "But the impact the Center and the ultrasound has on area women has been inspirational."
She continued, "A middle-aged woman found us through the yellow pages because she saw that we offered free ultrasounds. She thought abortion was her only choice until she came to Collage Center and had an ultrasound."
After seeing high-definitions of her own baby’s face, arms and legs, the woman changed her mind.
"It was so great to hear the joy and excitement in her voice the day she called to tell us she had given birth to a beautiful baby girl," Mrs. Tillotson said.
The Knights of Columbus Nebraska State Council issued an official statement regarding the success of this program: "As Knights and families of Knights in Nebraska, we can share the joy of these women for our part in helping install the ultrasound in the central/western part of our state. As advocates for the respect of all life and an end to abortion in Nebraska and throughout the United States, we will continue to perform good works in order to help those in need, both born and unborn."