The Morning Center: “We are the antithesis to Planned Parenthood”

Last year, Live Action News spotlighted The Morning Center, a revolutionary maternity care center that provides medical care to low-income women at no cost. Their goal is to love both the mother and her baby.

The Morning Center chose to open their pilot program in Memphis, Tennessee, because women in need from three states can access it. When Live Action News wrote about them last year, they had a staff of 20 which consisted of medical and administrative staff, as well as volunteers. They had served 300 women with over 1,500 OB/GYN appointments, and delivered over 100 babies. Now, a year later, they have grown even more.

Four clinics are open in Memphis. The staff has grown, with the addition of more doctors, nurses, and full-time ministry and counseling personnel. Last month, they delivered their 250th baby, and expect to deliver 300 by January. In addition to this, The Morning Center is looking to expand across the nation: Atlanta is expected to be their second city, with a clinic opening there in 2017, and they are also working to open in Detroit, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi. Ultimately, they hope to open in 10 cities in 10 years.

So far, The Morning Center has enjoyed widespread support from the community. Executive Director Les Riley explained that they have been able to partner with multiple churches and inner-city ministries, and they are working to help some of the most vulnerable women in the area. And the medical community has been welcoming as well. “We have more crisis pregnancy centers from a 50 mile radius of the city that are sending patients to us, as well as a refugee ministry and St Jude,” Riley said.” And through partnerships with two hospitals in the area, the number of babies that we can deliver has gone up exponentially.”

One of their patients came to them from the opposite side of town. “When she got there, she was crying, and had a two-year-old with her,” Riley recalled. “When we inquired as to what was wrong, she said she had paid somebody to bring her there and take her home, but they had just left her there, and she didn’t know how she was going to get home. So our ministry coordinator said she would drive her home.” But then a month later, when it came time for her next appointment, the same thing happened again. She called from a homeless shelter in Arkansas distraught, because she had no way to get to the clinic. It turns out, she had been in an abusive relationship and when she got pregnant with his baby, he turned on the two-year-old who wasn’t his. She stood up for the child, and that led him to kicking her out of the house. She had grown up in a military family with an abusive father who abandoned her mother. Her mother joined a cult and then abandoned her. “This girl, her whole life, all she had ever known was abusive men and homeless shelters,” Riley said.

So The Morning Center decided to try to help her. They got some clothes and baby items for her, and Riley reached out to a pastor he knew, who reached out to another pastor. Together, the two pastors got the woman a car seat and brought her to the clinic. While she was being examined, they noticed a hole in her shoes. “She said that all the clothes she had were in the Walmart bag she was carrying,” Riley said. They took her to a clothing closet so she could get the clothes she needed. The practice manager helped her to get on her feet after the baby was born, and for Riley, it was a great example of how a community can come together to help a woman in need. “We had six different churches, with three different denominations, that all ended up having the opportunity to serve this one girl, and her one baby.”

But not everyone has been fond of The Morning Center. The abortion industry is not pleased about having competition. The Morning Center is in a Section 8 housing complex, and one day, staff found a stack of cards left for them for “Choices,” also known as “The Memphis Center for Reproductive Health” — an abortion facility. “My response was, ‘Looks like #plannedparentood has some competition to carry out Margaret Sanger’s eugenic agenda in Memphis’,” Riley remarked. And why is the abortion industry trying to interfere with The Morning Center? Because they’re everything that the abortion industry is not.

“We like to call ourselves the antithesis to Planned Parenthood,” Riley said. “And what does the abortion industry do? It’s a comprehensive anti-Christian worldview. What the abortion industry does is, they market themselves in inner-city neighborhoods. They market themselves to the young. They sell sex. And then when they get pregnant, Planned Parenthood is there with their agenda. If you go to an abortion clinic, here’s what happens. They want you in there and out of there as quick as possible. They don’t want to see your children. They don’t want you to bring your children. Most abortion centers in Memphis will have signs that say your kids aren’t welcome. They bring you in, they harm the mom, they kill her baby, they take they money, and then they put them back out onto the street. They don’t want to see them again until they need another abortion. But what our ministry does is taking the time to invest in this girl’s life, to find out what she really needs, and serving her for as long as it takes. And if it goes beyond our scope, we try to plug her in with local ministries and other churches who can minister to this girl for the long-term.”

He continued, “One of the things the pro-life movement has got to get over is treating abortion like a statistic. We just name off the statistics, talking about how many million babies have been killed. But the Christian worldview is to see each and every life as precious,” he explained. “We want to serve them as individuals, who have their own individual problems, and their own individual needs, who need to be loved and served.”

Anyone interested in helping The Morning Center should visit their website, where they can find information about donations, volunteering, and even about bringing The Morning Center to their city. But most importantly, Riley asks that you pray for them. “We are on the front lines of spiritual warfare with the death culture in the heart of one of the most dangerous and impoverished cities in America,” he said. “We are directly attacking two satanic strongholds — abortion and multigenerational dependence on social welfare — with Biblical charity and Christ centered health care. We need prayer.”

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