PEORIA, Ill. America's pro-life movement, bolstered in recent decades by the opening of thousands of pregnancy care centers and clinics, will be elevated to the next level with the formation of charitable maternity hospitals in major cities.
Samaritan Ministries International announced its intention to establish full-service hospitals, called The Morning Centers, beginning as soon as late of 2012. Medical services are not new to Samaritan Ministries, a nonprofit health care sharing ministry that was founded in 1994.
"We are hoping to expedite it," said James Lansberry, vice president of Samaritan Ministries. "We think this ministry is long overdue."
The executive said a short list of possible debut cities has been developed and that final selection of the first hospital site should come within three months.
"Our vision is to provide first-class, quality maternity care for the under-served and the poor, mostly in the urban areas," he said.
Those areas, Lansberry said, are especially vulnerable to expecting moms because many doctors and obstetricians are leaving the urban cores because of rising malpractice rates.
Lansberry praised the work of the pregnancy care centers and clinics, which provide vital life-affirming, pre-natal services for free, but said mothers need support beyond the pregnancy stage.
"We take that one step farther by actually delivering the child," he said, adding that they plan to tap into the local flavor of each community, using as many existing resources as possible.
"We want to be partners with the pro-life movers that are already operating in the areas."
When it comes to the birthing experience, as many as 41 percent of childbirths are paid for through Medicaid, according to 2007 stats from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The same study showed Medicaid paid for 41 percent of childbirths and maternity care nationwide. Lansberry calls that care second-class.
"Why do we want to pass them on to a government that would just as soon abort their child," he said. "We will be providing a high-quality, first-class birthing experience as a gift in the name of Jesus.
Instead of taxpayer funding, The Morning Center will rely exclusively on private donations and funding.
"We are looking to provide not just quality care, but care that mirrors the image of Christ," he said.
Among the resources the hospital plans to provide to mothers in crisis:
• Complete prenatal care, counseling, mentoring and professional photography that celebrates the joy of new life will be provided.
• A birthing center that offers mothers flexibility in making birth choicesfrom providing facilities for water birth, and space for family, to highly trained staff and equipment needed for any medical situation.
• Staff members will have a clear sense of God's calling to demonstrate the Good News of Jesus Christ in compassionate and practical ways as they care for each mother and baby.
Lansberry said their plan is not to focus on the monetary issues that surround health care as much as it will be to center on serving people in need.
"There could be a chance of abuse, but the goal is to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "The more opportunities we have to share the gospel, the more people will hear."For more information on The Morning Center, including a blog that will chronicle the journey, visit www.morningcenter.org. For more information about Samaritan Ministries, visit www.samaritanministries.org.
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