CASTLE ROCK. For a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, an ultrasound image of her unborn child can serve as truth in love. The opening of a new pregnancy center in Castle Rock, which was aided by the Knights of Columbus at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock, allows women facing unintended pregnancy in Douglas County to receive medical services and life-affirming counseling without having to drive to Denver or Colorado Springs.
Marcy McGovern, executive director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center, said that for the past five years, the organization took its Mobile Testing Clinic, a retrofitted R.V., to the Castle Rock community.
“We would park it and provide services like pregnancy tests, options counseling and ultrasounds at different service agencies or church locations that would allow us to park on their property,” McGovern said. The organization, a faith-based Christian 501C nonprofit corporation, has a main office in downtown Denver and branch offices throughout the Denver metropolitan area. It was founded in 1982.
“With the rapidly growing population of Castle Rock, we thought that it was time to go ahead and open a brick-and-mortar office to provide more services on a regular basis, so that’s what really prompted it, the need of the growing population,” McGovern said. The new location at 410 S. Wilcox St. was dedicated on Nov. 14, 2017.
Except for the normal obstacles such as construction, timing and permits, the center was welcomed by the community.
“They have a very large knowledge base of our presence with both the church community and some of the business community,” said McGovern. “Probably the biggest obstacle, although we were already known, was continuing to get the word out that we have a hands-on service that people can access.”
A quality ultrasound machine is an important asset to a pregnancy resource center.
“It is vitally important because it is truth in love,” said McGovern. “It is a gentle way for a woman who is in an unintended pregnancy to be able to be educated about prenatal development and what is going on within her own body, seen through the gentle screen of an ultrasound of the unborn baby growing inside her.”
The ultrasound machine in the Castle Rock pregnancy center was provided by the statewide Knights of Columbus organization, through the Ultrasound Initiative program.
“The program draws all of the Colorado chapters together and they receive a matching gift from the national organization,” said McGovern. Since 2009, the Ultrasound Initiative has teamed state and local Knights of Columbus councils with the Supreme Council to fund over 752 ultrasound machines, costing over $36 million, for placement in pro-life pregnancy care centers (PCCs) in all 50 states, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Peru, stated the Knights of Columbus website. The St. Francis of Castle Rock Council No. 8909 participated in the Ultrasound Initiative which provided the machine to the Castle Rock Alternatives pregnancy center. The machine cost $25,000.
“Our local council No. 8909 does many events during the year and supports many different organizations,” said Dean Rushing, Grand Knight. Their most important fundraiser is running three concession stands during the Douglas County fair, where the council sells its popular fried fish.
The money raised is dedicated to things like the state-run Ultrasound Initiative, four $1000 scholarships, Catholic Charities, seminarian support, aid to Middle East Christians under attack and other items needed by the community. Rushing said that the state Knights of Columbus organization brings in many donations and then decides what community gets a machine.
The sophistication of today’s medical technology provides a “window on the womb,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Even from the early stages of pregnancy, a mother can see her developing child, hear the baby’s heartbeat, and to recognize the miracle of the new life within her.”
“An ultrasound machine, and our staff who administer the use of it, does three important things medically,” said McGovern. “It provides gestational age. It provides confirmation of how old the unborn child is. The second thing an ultrasound does it that it determines viability. It confirms that the unborn child is growing and has a heartbeat, that it’s alive.”
The third thing that an ultrasound does is to provide confirmation of an intrauterine pregnancy. It confirms that the pregnancy is placed safely in the uterus, McGovern said.
“It is important to have a quality ultrasound machine so the (trained) sonographer can get all the information they need to get.” McGovern continued. “They need to do certain measurements, they need to be able to look to determine viability, gestation age, location of pregnancy. The quality needs to be excellent, so they can do the work they need to do to be able to provide the image so that the woman who is receiving the ultrasound can see what is going on in her body.”
The addition of the ultrasound machine to the Castle Rock office now allows Alternatives to reach women throughout Douglas County, said McGovern, because they can serve Parker, Franktown, Elizabeth, Monument, even as far as Lone Tree.
“By the Knights of Columbus gifting that ultrasound machine to Alternatives Pregnancy Center, it insures within the northern part of the Colorado Springs Diocese, women and men have life-affirming options in Douglas County.” She said that the gift insures women have access to limited medical support and options counseling that is in absolute agreement with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
“So really what the ultrasound machine does is to provide those services in a greater expanse. If we had women who needed an ultrasound before we had the machine there four months ago, they would have had to drive to our Aurora office or Denver office. Now they can conveniently go to Castle Rock, and so it’s helpful for proximity and resources, so that’s the exciting thing for the diocese of Colorado Springs Diocese, that partnership of life-affirming support, conveniently located now.”
“So their first response, when facing an unintended pregnancy could be: ‘why don’t I go to Alternatives, get an ultrasound, see how far along I am, talk to someone, find out what my resources are, before I make a life-changing decision.’ That’s our hope,” said McGovern
For more information about Alternatives Pregnancy Center, visit www.youhavealternatives.org. The center also has a 24-hour helpline: 303-295-2288. Information about the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative is at: www.kofc.org/en/members/programs/culture-of-life/ultrasound-initiative.html#/