LOS ANGELES, Calif. The women who walk into the black RV often have nowhere else to go. They know or suspect there's a baby on the way, and they're wondering how they, many still children themselves, could possibly find a way to care for it. For them, termination often seems like an inviting option.
But the people of Community Pregnancy Clinic, who run a mobile pregnancy clinic in the black RV, want to offer other options.
"We talk to her and show her the baby on the screen," said Dave Wilkenson, a director for Community Pregnancy Clinic. "We get them to see it's not a mass of cells or a glob of tissue like they tell me. It's a baby."
The renovated mobile home is an effort by Community Pregnancy to move beyond the constraints of its Simi Valley and Moorpark clinics, in Los Angeles County.
"I felt Lord prompting me," Wilkenson said. "God said you need to go where the battle is."
For Wilkenson, the battlefield was Los Angeles, particularly the neighborhoods that are checked with abortion clinics, but lack pro-life advocacy clinics. Los Angeles County, he said, has more than 40 abortion clinics.
When Wilkenson announced at a Community Pregnancy Clinic supporters' banquet that he planned to put the clinic on wheelsold wheels, because the clinic had a 1985 RVsome had concerns.
"One couple came up and said, 'we think (the RV) could get down to Los Angeles, but we don't think it could get back," Wilkenson said. "So they donated a 2002 Monaco Cayman."
The motorhome was in good repair, with low mileage and appraised at about $69,000.
The mobile clinic was operational after about $20,000 in renovations, which included putting a wrap around the RV, installing linoleum flooring and an examination table in the back room and equipping the room with an ultrasound machine and a 42-inch flat screen TV for women to see scans of their babies.
The linoleum and the TV were donated to Community Pregnancy Clinic.
The mobile home has a counseling room in the front half of the vehicle, which remained relatively unchanged, using the standard dinette and furniture, but adding the examination room in the back.
The mobile clinic allows Community Pregnancy to "come alongside existing pregnancy centers that aren't medical yet," Wilkenson said. The Simi Valley-based organization now takes its ministry to areas of Los Angeles it sees as high need, such as the Watts district in South Los Angeles, and the city of Oxnard.
Though the clinic is a pro-life advocacy group, it is careful to reach out to the women it serves regardless of whether they decide to terminate the pregnancy.
When women come in "they're in crisis mode," Wilkenson said. "We want to be gentle and loving.
"We will talk about abortionwhat the risks are, what the procedures areand we tell them we have post-abortion support groups. We tell (the woman) that if she were to carry that baby what that would be like. We don't paint it as an easy life. Especially if it's a single mom."
The clinic encourages the women not to think of it as an end to their education, but rather a delay. The clinic also directs women toward available resources, such as medical and housing options, and even the potential for adoption.
"We'll tell them there are places you can go that have waiting lists of couples that can't have children," Wilkenson said. "You can place that baby in those loving arms, and that can be a blessing to them to have that baby."
Wilkenson said the ministry has provided many opportunities to minister and counsel to women in crisis.
"We had one gal whoshe was a prostitute and a strippersaid, 'I have to have an abortion because I can't keep my job and be pregnant,'" he recalled. "Our staff was able to minister to her and tell her how valuable she was in the sight of God."
The RV, which is often parked near abortion clinics, allows Community Pregnancy to attract women who would have been unlikely to make their way to a pro-life group.
"We have one story from down in Los Angeles where a woman … had spent nine years in jail for her part in the murder of an 18-month-old baby," Wilkenson said. "She came to the clinic and thought she had to have an abortion because she thought she would be violating parole.
"She came and saw the baby, told her story, and lovingly (our counselors) suggested adoption."
The irony of her story was not lost on Wilkenson.
"She's done nine years in jail for killing a baby outside the womb, and she could choose to kill it inside the womb and go scott free," he said.
Wilkenson would like to add more mobile clinics in order to park in front of multiple abortion clinics simultaneously. He also worries that if something went wrong with the RV, there is no backup.
"I think this is the future for us as a clinic," he said. "My goal is to have a fleet of these mobile clinics. If something happens to my one and I'm not on the streets, then I'm not helping."
For more information, visit www.cpcglobal1.org.