After testimonials from mothers who were helped after unplanned pregnancies, a leader of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Columbia shared some statistics with Marshall County residents at a banquet for the resource center here.
Meanwhile, the banquet's guest speaker's work 20 years ago in Chattanooga is seen as experience that should be tapped at the Lewisburg Pregnancy Resource Center that moved to 432 East Commerce St. several months ago from Martin Street.
"In Marshall County, over 50 women choose abortion every year," said Linda Keener Thomas of Culleoka, the immediate past chairwoman of the resource center in Columbia who spoke at the In His Image Pregnancy Resource Center Benefit Banquet on last Thursday night in Lewisburg's Recreation Center.
"And it's not just teens. A quarter of them are married. More than half are in their 20s," Thomas said to an audience of 220, up by more than twice the 87 attending the benefit banquet a year ago.
Thomas was introduced by the Rev. Ray Hartman, formerly of Lewisburg Chapel and the Cornersville United Methodist Church. His denomination transferred him to a church in Clarkrange, near Crossville and Cookville.
"She has a heart for those who didn't make it," Hartman said, turning the podium over to Thomas who spoke of, among many other things, aborting her baby years ago and developing a memorial wall in Chattanooga where babies' names and parents' words are inscribed.
Those words include:
* We loved you too late;
* Forgive me my trespass;
* I'll hold you in heaven; and,
* A part of me died, too.
"We're going to try to get her (Thomas) over here," Shirley Lowe, executive director of the center here, said after the banquet. "I would like to have more of her input because she has more experience that we could glean from, especially from her work with the Pregnancy Resource Center in Chattanooga."
That's where Thomas worked at a pregnancy resource center across the street from an abortion clinic where center staffers watched a pregnant girl lock herself in a car to avoid entering the clinic for surgery her boyfriend advocated.
"She was practically dragged from the car," Thomas said.
"Who is pushing abortion?" she asked rhetorically. "The men.
"Instead of freeing women," she said of abortion availability, "it's enslaved women to the desires of others."
Chattanooga center staff saw: a clinic nurse "saved" religiously; another die of cancer; and the owner go bankrupt, she said. The center bought the clinic, demolished it and built the memorial wall.
"Conservatively speaking," she continued, "one in five women have had an abortion."
Lowe says the statistics "came from Linda's research."
Also speaking were mothers of children helped by the In His Image Pregnancy Resource Center.
Brettney and Stephen Hall with their twins, Ember Ivy and Kara Rayne, said they were treated like family. He's developing a trade. She's finishing cosmetology school.
Cindy Healy and her daughter, Alicen Healy, stood before the audience as Cindy's first grandchild, Joshua, slept in loving arms.
They advocated financial assistance to the center founded in March 2004 at 218 Martin St. Now at 432 East Commerce St., the center has 800 more square feet with a second counseling room and a larger closet for supplies for babies' care.