More than one million abortions are committed in the United States annually.
Approximately one out of ten of those abortions happen in New York City.
Yet on the streets of New York, in unassuming surroundings and often dangerously close to abortion clinics, the offices of Expectant Mother Care are working tirelessly to curb the Big Apple’s abortion statistics.
Since its inception in 1984, Expectant Mother Care (EMC) has had remarkable success. To date, EMC has saved over 12,000 babies and touched even more lives. The dedicated staff and volunteers at EMC have counseled over 50,000 girls and women, one by one. By offering “free pre-abortion consultation,” EMC draws to its offices mothers who are seriously considering, or already planning on, an abortion. Though some of the pregnant women who come into contact with EMC do decide to have an abortion, nearly two thirds of the women are persuaded to make the choice for life.
“You could literally fill Madison Square Garden two times with the number of girls we’ve counseled!” says EMC’s founder and executive director, Chris Slattery. “You could fill an arena with the babies we’ve saved, and some of those children have children of their own now.”
In his 25 years of pro-life work, Slattery has experienced about every kind of case imaginable.
“A grandmother who was 21 once called us,” Slattery recalls, “She wanted to get an abortion for her 12-year-old daughter who she had when she was nine. We had a mother who was 22 looking for abortion number 27. We’ve had women coming in from prison. We’ve seen tragic pregnancies on wedding nights from men other than the groom. We’ve seen girls [who have become] pregnant and whose boyfriends are coming out of prison the next day. We see it all.”
Into the fray
Chris Slattery began his amazing journey into pro-life work in 1979, when he attended his first pro-life event. The event was a counter-demonstration in Union Square against a tumultuous and angry rally by extreme left-wing feminists. “We were spat at and cursed at,” he excitedly recalls. “We had to stand behind a police barricade, and I thought, ‘Boy, this is for me!’
Over the next two years, Slattery attended the national March for Life, and then in the early eighties was introduced to sidewalk counseling. He was working in the advertising business at the time and began to stop by an abortion clinic on his way to work in the morning. Dressed in a suit and with briefcase in hand, Slattery would stand outside the doors of the clinic and try to persuade mothers to choose life. He saved his first baby outside a Manhattan clinic in 1984, when most of New York was drinking its first cup of coffee. “Later,” he says, “when I held that baby in my arms, I was sold on lifesaving.”
He had come to grips with a key concept: namely that, as he says, “an individual has the power, with God’s grace and with daring, to actually turn a mother around. It is possible! And it isn’t as difficult as I thought. I was surprised to see that you could make an incredible difference by having the daring to intervene in someone’s life, not only to save the baby, but to help the mother avoid the tremendous pain and suffering that an abortion causes. To be the catalyst that helps a mother to accept motherhood—that is exciting!”
Slattery founded Expectant Mother Care that same year. In December, he began working on his first fundraising campaign. Though he knew little at the time about raising money, he was able to put his advertising, communication and presentation skills to good use. By the summer of 1985, EMC had launched its first base of operations and opened its doors to the public.
The lifesaving institution was quickly slammed with protests. “When we opened up,” Slattery recalls, “we hit a nerve.” As luck, or diabolical timing, would have it, two other anti-life centers opened up almost simultaneously with the first EMC office. The first of the two, at the demand of NOW, NARAL and other pro-abortion groups, instigated an investigation by the New York state attorney general against the pregnancy center.
The attorney general filed suit against Expectant Mother Care along with two other pregnancy centers, forcing the young organization into a consent judgment. The ruling banned EMC from advertising itself under the heading of “clinics” in the phonebook and elsewhere. EMC was also asked to be more explicit in its advertising about the nature of its work. This was a hard ruling for an organization that was attempting to attract mothers who had already decided on abortion. As an organization, Expectant Mother Care followed the ruling, but as time passed, EMC, as Slattery puts it, “has adopted ways of adjusting to that attack.”
Then in 1987, the assault grew worse. Television “exposés” aired about EMC’s work. The center received a plethora of media invasions, with journalists contacting EMC and posing as clients. Anti-life activists staged protests outside EMC’s building. And shortly thereafter, Chris Slattery and a group of New York pro-lifers jointly formed the legendary Operation Rescue. “Those rescue days really solidified my commitment to the cause,” says Slattery.
Though he had begun to throw himself ever more heavily into the pro-life fray, Chris Slattery had not yet made EMC full-time work. It took an 800-page lawsuit and a $50,000 fine to do that.
“In 1989, I was hit with a humongous 800-page lawsuit, along with a group of about eight of the original leaders of Operation Rescue. I was involved with this lawsuit for about ten years. I was fined $50,000 for leading rescues in defiance of a federal court order,” Slattery remembers.
The legal battle lead Slattery to take his work with EMC more seriously than ever. The company for which he was working began pressuring him to quit his pro-life work because of the bad publicity he was generating. And though Slattery had just completed a million-dollar advertising campaign for the company, he was asked to leave that same month. The day he was fired, Slattery decided to run EMC full-time, though it was a financial sacrifice. “It was a struggle for us,” he recollects, “and for three years I put a thousand dollars a month onto the credit card just to survive.”
Turning the tide
EMC opened its second crisis center in 1995 in the South Bronx, directly across the street from Planned Parenthood. The third location opened on Court St. in the heart of Brooklyn in 1999. This third location is on the twelfth floor of a notorious building that houses two abortion clinics, one of which, according to Slattery, has been responsible for the deaths of at least three women.
Today, EMC has expanded into the Bronx area and has a total of five locations. The center has plans to open five more by the end of the year. In all locations, EMC deals primarily with low-income individuals, the majority of which are seriously considering abortion. EMC advertises using “neutral images,” which cry out neither “pro-life” or “pro-abortion.” This is what, years ago, created some difficulties with the attorney general. When the women enter the clinic, they soon learn EMC’s mission. The women are given the option to watch videos that fully explain the abortion procedure and are also offered free consultation.
The counselors at EMC witness over 1,200 turnarounds a year. “Many of these girls are under great pressure,” stresses Slattery, “They don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re not culpable.”
If a woman decides to carry her pregnancy to term, EMC’s counselors are right there to help them out. The organization provides half a million dollars in goods to mothers every year, including diapers, baby clothes and strollers. Additionally, they offer to help arrange for adoptions and serve girls and women with abstinence education. Most importantly, however, EMC promotes conversions to Christ. There is now even a chapel in one of their centers where both workers and women considering abortion can pray.
“A total mission requires complete dedication and apostles of great soul,” says Chris Slattery. And that’s why he and his associates will be saving babies for years to come.
For more information on EMC, visit www.expectantmothercare.org, or call (914) 224-5773.