The Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford is a Christian ministry that provides pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and more, plus mentoring and education for women and men about pregnancy, options and parenting. They also provide mentoring for post-abortive healing—physical, emotional and spiritual. The center serves about 50 clients each week; in 2021, it served a total of 913.
Tracy Breit is the center’s Executive Director. We spoke with her and Pastor Josh Pardee about how churches can contribute to this local need.
This was originally posted June 15, 2022. We’ve updated it to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court decision that was announced June 24.
Why does First Free Rockford partner with the Pregnancy Care Center?
Josh: First Free has had a long-standing partnership with the Pregnancy Care Center for over twenty-two years. They do an incredible job of walking alongside those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy without judgment or shame and create a safe place to process and be fully informed.
It’s not lost on me that the story of the Christian faith begins with an unplanned pregnancy for Mary. If there ever was a people who would believe in rallying around those with unplanned pregnancies, it ought to be Christians. One of the ways we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in difficult situations is to partner with organizations like the Pregnancy Care Center. We are so grateful for all they do.
What are the Pregnancy Care Center’s biggest needs that churches in our community could help meet?
Tracy: We love to see churches partner with us. First Free gives us more than any other church in the Rockford area, and they have for many, many years. So I’m always looking for opportunities to tell First Free thank you. You are significant support to us.
The financial help is significant, it is huge, but I would love for it to be more personal, too. I would love to get past just putting change in a bottle or writing a check. I always tell pastors, “I don’t just want you to send a check.” You had a woman’s group come last year on a Wednesday night, which was great. So I think it’s just continuing to build that relationship with First Free, so you know the impact you’re making.
Do you have volunteer opportunities?
Tracy: We do. One of our main volunteer roles is our mentor role. It takes extensive training, but it is definitely an opportunity. If that’s what God is calling you to do, then we would want to put you in that position.
Sam Kemp, our new guy, is looking for some men to come alongside fathers in a volunteer role. That is something we’ve never had before. We are open two evenings a week now, Tuesday and Thursday nights until 8. So maybe, Thursday evenings, we would love to have another man who could be here from say, 4 to 8, just to be available to the dads who come in and have an opportunity to speak with them.
Josh: In Matthew 25, we see that Jesus says that when we give a drink to those in need, when we give clothes to those in need, and when we feed the hungry, it is as if we have given those very things to Christ. This tells us that Jesus identifies himself with those often shamed and pushed to the fringe by society. When we go and serve and volunteer at places like PCC, we love Christ by taking care of the needs of our neighbors. For much of society, unplanned pregnancies are a lot to think about and process. The church has the opportunity to love and care for those who need love and care when they partner with places like PCC both financially and through volunteering.
What sort of prayer support would you ask us for?
Tracy: Honestly, prayers for protection in this day and age. I feel a shepherd’s role to my staff. When you begin working here or volunteering here on a regular basis, the enemy just attacks. Hop on this new website we have and look at my team. All of their bios are there. Pray for them by name and for their role and yes, what they do here at the center, but also for hard family stuff. The enemy just comes and tries to attack even outside of these walls.
And then the Prayer Warriors link on the website. We are sending out texts, not all the time but when we really need it. If we have an APR client or multiple abortion-minded clients in one day, those are the heavy days when we just need prayer. So prayers for our clients, prayers for my team.
And for our mission. To raise awareness, especially as the Roe v. Wade decision comes out. The pregnancy centers across the nation unfortunately become the tangible targets. … My next thing that I’m probably going to be asking for is security cameras. I hate that we have to do that, but I’ve got to keep my team safe.
What do you think are the biggest misunderstandings about the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade?
Tracy: Even before Roe v. Wade, the thing I would say to anybody is to love these women. Leave our own judgments and assumptions at the door. The shame game with abortion is huge, and there is no fruit in that. It hurts. We need to be ready to love these women, help empower them, educate them.
I think there is a misunderstanding that abortion is going to be no more. If anything, it makes our services all the more important.
It depends on the state, too. We know that in Illinois we are going to see an increase in abortions. They have used the term, “sanctuary state.” I hate using that term. I would rather say “abortion hub.” Illinois will become that.
A criticism I often hear is, “Oh yeah, they’re pro-life up until birth and then they forget all about those mothers and babies.” Can you refute that for me?
Tracy: We could do better on some of those things as a society, but I think we’re trying. I know what we are trying to do here. We started some classes for after birth. We really are trying to set them up, not just to have this baby but to take this baby home and be the best parents they can be.
We are trying to help the foster system. We are trying to help adoption. There are people on waiting lists, but we don’t see as many women choose adoption. I just wish the other side would realize that we don’t walk away from these women after they give birth.
We have always given away what we call emergency packs. During this baby-formula crisis, We are doing everything we can to find formula and we’re giving it to whoever. It doesn’t have to be a client. They don’t have to walk through our doors, ever. If there’s somebody in our community who needs diapers or clothing or formula and we have it, we’re giving it to them.
What are churches not talking about that we need to be talking about?
Tracy: How we handle the issue of abortion is so important. We’re not the ones on the corner with the graphic signs. We know that doesn’t work. What we want people to know is that we are for these women.
Churches especially need to know that one in four women will have had an abortion by the time she is 45. And a good percentage of those women are sitting in pews at church. So many people are so silent. They’re walking in that shame. And that’s a place where the church can rise up to even come alongside those who are post-abortive to say, “This is part of your story. God can use this.” He could use a post-abortive woman to come here to the Pregnancy Care Center to love these women and help save one.
In our conversations about the sanctity of human life, we can never forget about the woman who is faced with these decisions. You have to be a church that welcomes the single, pregnant mothers. What are we doing for these girls instead of just judging them and their situation? How are we prepared for that?
You mentioned the one-in-four statistic. Would that indicate that we in churches need to handle this topic with a huge amount of sensitivity?
Tracy: You are probably speaking to women who have made this choice. It’s finding that middle ground between grace and truth. We know what truth is. Yes, we could call abortion murder, but let’s pick our words a little more gracefully.
And I think it’s just being willing to talk about it and create a safe space that can be shared, so that women would feel welcome walking through a church’s doors.
We have partnered with a national organization called Embrace Grace, which really is trying to be the bridge between pregnancy care centers and churches. They partner with churches to host a small group of pregnant, single moms. That’s to get the church to say they want to create a space for the single moms to come, where they’re going to come together in community with other single moms and pregnant women. But they’re also going to hear the gospel and hear about Christ’s love and forgiveness and his grace for that situation.
That group, at the end of their curriculum, hosts a big baby shower for those moms. It’s a cool opportunity for the church to say, “We care about you. You’re welcome in this place.”
We also partner with Care Net. Their focus is more to get into the churches to say, “This is how you talk about this. Here’s a way to be mindful of the post-abortive women in your congregation.” And men, too. We had a man stand up recently at an event that we had. He said, “I’ve never shared this before but part of the reason I give is because when I was 16, I forced my girlfriend to have an abortion.” And he’s carried that with him. So we are trying to push into fatherhood, too. I hired a guy, Sam Kemp, at the beginning of May to reach the dads. It’s a huge answer to prayer.
That’s a lot going on in many directions for you and the center. What’s your read on it all?
Tracy: I feel like God is stirring things and orchestrating things for us to be prepared for such a time as this. I feel like we are in an Esther moment like never before. What is he calling us to? He is putting pieces together and aligning us with some of these other great organizations.
The Pregnancy Care Center has something new available in response to medication abortions, right?
Tracy: One of our services that we feel God set us up for what’s coming is APR, abortion pill reversal. Unfortunately, as I’ve heard people say, the mailbox is now the abortion clinic. (Medication abortions accounted for 39 percent of all U.S. abortions in 2017, the latest year available. It’s two pills, meant to be taken 48 hours apart.)
As of this April, we are now an APR center. Heartbeat International is one of our affiliates. Their team of medical directors and doctors helped create this protocol. If a woman takes the first abortion pill and then changes her mind, there is an option to reverse its effects. It’s simply progesterone that we prescribe for her. There is an APR hotline so a girl can find them, and then APR will find them the closest Pregnancy Care Center.
Then our job is to get them in for an ultrasound right away. Our nurses are on call from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. We’ll come when we have to, because it’s very time-sensitive. If there is still a viable pregnancy and they can find a heartbeat, then we will give them progesterone here at our center. We have a local obstetrician we have partnered with, who will see them in the next couple of days. And then we will get them a prescription to continue progesterone through that first trimester, and give them ultrasounds every week to two weeks.
If they can get to that 13-week mark, through the first trimester, it is considered successful. And the research has shown there are no birth defects. There are 3,500 plus babies living and walking this earth today since this was established. It’s amazing.
The Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford has two websites: One for clients and one for donors. The donor site lists lots of opportunities to donate, volunteer and pray.