A former Virginia abortion clinic that was turned into a free medical facility continued its metamorphosis on Monday, when it received the 1,000th ultrasound machine to be gifted by the Knights of Columbus as part of an effort to curb abortion and foster a “culture of life.”
Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in Manassas, which first opened its doors in 2018, has doubled in size, expanding from 1,980 square feet to 3,960 square feet and is now offering new services, most notably prenatal care for women and ultrasound imaging.
The new technology was a gift from the Knights, something that senior vice president and chief communications officer for the Knights of Columbus, told Crux was “ten years in the making.”
(The Knights of Columbus are a principal sponsor of Crux.)
On Monday’s Crux of the Matter radio show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel, Shinkle recalled that in 2008, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson committed to donating 1,000 ultrasound machines over the next decade.
The ultrasound machine at Mother of Mercy was installed at the end of 2018, with Shinkle noting that although they’ve technically reached their stated goal, the Knights don’t intend to stop there. Since the beginning of the year, seven more machines have been donated.
“One of the great ways in which we can get women who are wrestling with whether to have their baby or have an abortion, when they see that ultrasound - when they see that picture - of their baby, more often than not, they’re going to keep that baby,” he observed.
“Within no time at all, the Knights will have saved a million lives,” Shinkle added, noting that the ultrasound machine donations are “the single greatest humanitarian effort in the Knights of Columbus’ history.” To date, more than $49 million dollars has been spent on the new machines that are now present in all 50 states, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa.
The clinic boasts over 200 volunteers and more than 500 patients receiving care from primary care doctors, cardiologists, and obstetricians, and over 40 licenses nurses, among a range of other medical practitioners.
The clinic sees an average of 65-70 patients a week said Alexandra Luevano, Director of the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in a statement.
Art Bennett, director of Catholic Charities of Arlington, recalled the history of the clinic’s opening in an interview with Crux.
After years of volunteers praying in front of what was then a full-service abortion clinic, they eventually forged a relationship with the owner, who agreed to sell off the building. In 2015, the Blessed Virgin Mary Foundation - a group of local volunteers and donors - purchased the site for $360,000 for the real estate and another $340,000 for the abortion clinic assets.
Yet those same members felt that it was “not enough to merely end an evil,” Bennett explained. “They also wanted to do some good.”
Consequently, the Foundation joined forces with Catholic Charities of Arlington and opened the doors of Mother of Mercy last year.
Bennett told Crux that the majority of its patients are immigrants who are lacking healthcare. While national politics may be divided over contentious debates over immigration and abortion, Bennett said that on the local level those “divides at the top” give way to the practical needs on the ground.
“To now have prenatal care at a former abortion clinic is an amazing transformation,” said Bennett as he marveled at the prospects of the new ultrasound machine.
He went on to praise the “tremendous generosity” of the Knights of Columbus - a generosity that Shinkle told Crux isn’t limited to financial gifts or that of machinery, but comes in “large and small” ways, especially at the grassroots level.
He said that local Knights of Columbus members have been committed to shoveling snow for the clinic, remodeling, rebuilding, cleaning, and doing whatever is necessary to aid in its good works.
At a ceremony on Monday, the new equipment was formally blessed by Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge and with members of Knights of Columbus chapter members and Blessed Virgin Mary Foundation patrons who once prayed outside of its doors.
“What greater legacy can a person have than to save a child’s life?” asked Anderson.