Sonograms On Site van helps women choose life

by 1389 on February 22, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), abortion/pro-life, Christianity, Texas

D Magazine: The New Face of the Pro-Life Movement

David Pomerantz, thumbnail of photo by Elizabeth Lavin
David Pomerantz
photo by Elizabeth Lavin [source]

As David Pomerantz tells the story, his grandfather was 6 years old at the beginning of World War II, when Pomerantz’s great-grandparents were killed by Nazis. The young boy was put on a train bound for a concentration camp. He was riding in the last car—it was packed so tightly with people that he could barely breathe—when a pin fell out of a coupler, dropping his car from the rest of the train. The boy walked to a nearby town, only to find that its residents were being herded into the square to be cut down with machine guns. When the shooting started, the boy fell to the ground and pretended to be dead. There, the story goes, Pomerantz’s grandfather hid for three days under the bloody corpses of strangers. When the coast was clear, the boy got up and walked for miles, until he came across a refugee camp in the woods. He lived there for eight years, in squalor and pain and anguish, before he could immigrate to America, where he eventually married and had two children, Pomerantz’s mother and his aunt.

This is what Pomerantz thinks about when he is on the street, parked in front of an abortion clinic five days a week. As he tries to convince a woman to keep her child, he thinks of all those different lineages, the bloodlines that were saved when the train car detached.

“I picture myself as that pin,” he says. “I don’t just see a baby. I see a line of humanity we’re saving that could exist for eternity.”

It’s late October, and, after a long, sweltering summer, the air is beginning to cool. Pomerantz is standing in front of an abortion clinic not far from Parkland, handing out glossy cards he tells people are “good for one free sonogram.” A few feet away sits a large, white van emblazoned with the letters “SOS,” which stands for Sonograms On Site. He’s 23 years old and has a Justin Bieber haircut, sparkling blue eyes, and an engaging smile. For several hours a day, nearly every day, he tries to direct women away from the clinic and onto his van.

The clinic is on a quiet road, between a wine distributor and a construction site. The front door opens, and a man walks out. He backs up a late-model Chrysler to the door, and a nurse appears, pushing a woman in a wheelchair. A security guard sitting outside helps the nurse get the wheelchair to the side of the car. The woman is wearing a University of Iowa sweatshirt. She’s slumped over, in a daze. The security guard opens the car door and the nurse helps her into the passenger seat. In an instant, the car is out of the lot and gone. Then it happens again. The next woman looks glassy-eyed, exhausted. Pomerantz is close enough to see a spot of blood on the woman’s sweatpants.

Within minutes, three young women approach the clinic, apparently walking from a nearby neighborhood. They look barely old enough to vote, but two of them have tattoos crawling up their necks. Pomerantz offers them the glossy card, but they don’t even make eye contact as they pass him and walk into the clinic.

Before long, though, two of them return. One is wearing a blue tank top and the other a red sweater. They look inquisitively at the van.

“Come on over,” Pomerantz says, his voice as peaceful as he can make it.

The young women oblige. They say that Hangover II is playing in the waiting room inside. It’s “too weird” in there, one says. Their friend, the one inside, is here for an abortion. They’re told about the van, the free sonograms. After a brief conversation, the woman in blue explains that she’s actually pretty sure she’s pregnant. The woman in red says she thinks she might be pregnant, too.

Sonogram of unborn baby

“We can do sonograms right here,” Pomerantz says. “We can do pregnancy tests, too.”

The women are timid. They’re torn.

“Come on,” one of Pomerantz’s friends tells the women. “It’s cold out here and the bus is warm.”

With that, both women climb on board and the door closes behind them.

David Pomerantz is, in many ways, the new face of the pro-life movement. He doesn’t call women baby killers or hold a giant picture of an aborted fetus. He doesn’t scream or throw holy water. His goal is to stop abortion, to save babies, by helping mothers. Once he gets them on the van, they’re offered a free pregnancy test and an ultrasound. A trained counselor and a sonographer are there to assuage any fears the mothers might have. They want to change minds with kindness, and the idea is spreading. In the eight months Pomerantz has been doing this in Dallas, he has been contacted by multiple groups from all over the country hoping to start mobile ultrasound units of their own.

Pomerantz believes that every abortion is motivated by fear of some sort. And for every fear, the kind people at Sonograms On Site have an answer. Maybe the woman is worried she can’t take care of the baby financially. “We have resources, connections,” he explains. “We can help you fill out the paperwork to get government money. We have diapers, food, baby clothes, strollers, everything you’ll need.”

Maybe the woman is in an abusive relationship. “We can get you relationship counseling or a safe place and resources to help you start over, whether you have the baby or not.” Maybe she’s just afraid this baby will ruin her life and waylay all her plans. “Having a kid will be the thing that saves your life,” he tells them. “You’ll be happier than you ever thought. You’ll have something new to live for!” And for the mothers on the fence, Pomerantz gives out little hand-knit baby booties.

The margins of the internet, where the most passionate die-hards debate abortion every day, have already taken notice. One very popular anti-abortion website called Pomerantz’s van “an abortion clinic’s worst nightmare.” The liberal blog posted a photo of the van under the words “guerilla anti-choice tactics.” The writer called what Pomerantz is doing “repulsive.” A caption reads: “If you see this bus driving around, please run and call a friend. It’s full of people that want to force their scary beliefs on to you.”

Pomerantz insists he’s there first and foremost to help women, not to preach. “We’re the ones offering true choice,” he says. “Women are reminded all the time that they can have an abortion, that it’s their right. What you don’t hear is people telling her it’s okay to have the baby, that she can work through her fear. We want to make it easier for you to choose the choice you really want.”
He hopes one day he’ll be successful enough to send dozens of women to the pregnancy center every week. But he also knows that taking care of these mothers is expensive. On this he pulls no punches: “It’s a sham for the pro-life movement to say one thing with their mouths and another thing with their pocketbooks,” he says. “I don’t think you can be pro-life if you aren’t giving your time or money or resources directly. You’re just anti-abortion, and that doesn’t help women.”

He adds: “I’d love if these pro-choicers gave us money, too. We’d use every cent of it to take care of these women. What would they have me do? Is there anything else I can do? If there is, tell me, because I want to do everything I can.”
Much more of this fascinating story here. Be sure to read it all!

Sonograms On Site logo
The Sonograms On Site project was
originally called Save The Storks.

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