By Gayle Irwin
When two abortion facilities in Nashville, Tennessee halted abortions last year, the local pregnancy help center, Hope Clinic, experienced a significant increase in the number of women seeking pregnancy services.
Other factors may have played a big part in that growth as well.
According to Hope Clinic’s CEO Renée Rizzo, a series of marketing changes likely contributed to the 87 percent increase. The clinic implemented digital ads and a stronger social media presence during the year. She also believes the topic of abortion played a role.
“The mere topic of abortion in the news brings attention to us from the media and partnering churches,” Rizzo said.
With Planned Parenthood set to resume abortions by the end of the month, Rizzo is optimistic that Hope Clinic and the eight other central Tennessee pregnancy centers will be able to maintain their current volume.
“Hopefully, even with the addition of Planned Parenthood coming back, we will hold steady,” she said.
Hope in the Music Capital
Hope Clinic has offered abortion alternatives for decades. The medical pregnancy clinic established itself in the Music Capital in 1983, offering pregnancy testing, options counseling, and free maternity and baby items. Fifteen years later, the organization launched an abstinence education program in local public and private schools.
The medical component of the center began in 2001 with the hiring of a part-time nurse practitioner who conducted STD testing and treatment, ultrasounds, and prenatal education. Today, medical care includes a full well-woman’s annual exam and all early prenatal care delivered by nurses and nurse practitioners and overseen by three OB-GYNs on the clinic’s board of directors.
Hope Clinic’s robust pregnancy services also include its Bridge Program, through which clients can attend education classes, counseling sessions, and mentoring sessions to earn points to exchange for maternity and baby items. This program is available during pregnancy and up to one year after delivery.
Since 2007, Hope Clinic has continued to grow its offerings to include mental health services, providing counseling for those dealing with all forms of pregnancy loss (including abortion), postpartum depression, and related relationship issues (including trauma, sexual addiction, and pornography). There is even a psychiatric nurse practitioner on staff to prescribe medication for anxiety and depression.
Furthering its reach, Hope Clinic also began offering pregnancy-related classes and counseling online.
On the Radar of Women in Need
The staff and board are not done yet.
“We’re focusing on access to care which, for many clients, means offering more and more options off-site and online,” Rizzo said. “We have also begun a partnership with a nonprofit serving the homeless community, looking for the best strategy to provide much-needed medical and pregnancy care. We are expanding our group volunteer projects to quarterly opportunities for volunteers to help clients at their own homes. We are expanding our meals-to-moms program where donors and volunteers can prepare meals for our pregnant clients and new moms.”
The internet grows as a help for clinic’s staff and clients.
“We are adding more webinar classes for volunteers to teach from home and clients to take from home,” she said. “We already moved almost all committee and board meetings to ZOOM, and we will be adding volunteer options in this direction.”
Reaching current and potential clients in new ways puts Hope Clinic on the radar of women in need of compassion, assistance, and guidance.
“We continue to see a larger and larger percentage of abortion-minded women walk in the door, but still celebrate over 80 percent of our clients choosing life,” Rizzo said.
“Our lives completely turned around.”
Helping clients turn their lives around is a mission of the organization. Angella was one of those women.
The thirty-five-year-old learned about Hope Clinic from another medical provider. She was facing pregnancy all alone, as she and her boyfriend Carl had recently split up, her mother was experiencing addiction, and her sister had passed away from a drug overdose. Going to Hope changed everything, Angella said.
“What a life-changing, life-saving decision it was for me to go to Hope Clinic!” she said. “Carl and I reunited, and we were like sponges, taking every pregnancy class the Bridge Program provided. We began couples’ counseling, and I began individual counseling. I got a job. Carl got a job. We found a place to live. Our lives completely turned around. This place has completely healed, changed and equipped us to be better people, a better couple and more loving parents.”
“Love truly conquers all.”
For Anna, abortion was a fleeting thought 10 years ago when she visited Hope Clinic as a scared young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Raised in a Christian home, the young girl watched her parents divorce and her mother “emotionally check-out.” She began using drugs during middle school and continued doing so in high school. She hooked up with “a bad boy” and found herself pregnant at 17. Her father knew someone in his Bible study group who referred them to Hope Clinic.
“I met with Renee and started taking the different programs,” she said. “I did everything. It was difficult, but after the baby’s birth and my dad came into the hospital room, that was it—all the difficulties disappeared. Love truly conquers all.”
Anna spent seven years as a single mom. She worked for a short time at Hope and started a young mom’s group, which she led for more than a year. Now married, she will be the featured speaker at Hope Clinic’s upcoming gala.
Compassionate, Practical Help
With nine full-time and nine part-time staff, an average of 10 undergraduate and graduate-level students doing practicums, plus nearly 250 volunteers, Hope Clinic and its services reach frightened, confused, and struggling women like Angella and Anna in compassionate, practical ways.
“It is important for places like Hope Clinic to be a beacon to the community,” Rizzo said. “We need to model to the pro-life world how we can talk about this topic without sounding judgmental and unkind. Using social media to use words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’ hurt many post-abortive women and will scare future pregnant clients away. We can win them over with mercy, love, and compassion and real, practical help.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.