by Jessica Langdon
TOPEKA — To many growing families, the phrase “3-D ultrasound” conjures images of an exciting sneak peek at the developing baby’s features.
The same technology can be especially powerful for someone considering abortion.
The 3-D sonograms offered inside the newly opened Mary’s Choices pregnancy center in Topeka are meant to help women and families facing unplanned pregnancies choose life.
“I think that they’ll be amazed by what they see, and it will make the baby a real thing to them — to see a heartbeat and see somebody already moving,” said Dr. Melissa Colbern, a physician in Topeka and member of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish.
“There’s just a real awe factor when a mom sees the baby,” said Colbern, who has witnessed that in her own practice over the years.
She hopes the sonograms, along with other resources, will make a difference to abortion-minded women who turn to Mary’s Choices.
“I think it’s a really powerful tool that we have,” she said.
Along with then-Mother Teresa of Calcutta pastor Father William Bruning — now pastor at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe — and many others, Colbern worked countless hours over the past year to bring to life this new center.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann toured and blessed Mary’s Choices on Sept. 8, and the nonprofit limited medical facility at 306 S.W. Van Buren officially opened on Sept. 10.
“Let us ask for God’s blessing on all those who will be served by this center dedicated to assisting women who are pregnant and their families, and all who will serve them as the staff and benefactors of this pregnancy assistance facility,” said Archbishop Naumann in his blessing.
“As we call God’s blessing upon this facility and its staff, we also will ask God to bless the sonogram machine, which will be instrumental in assisting expectant mothers to rejoice in the gift of the life of their child.”
Colbern offered thanks for the financial donations and hours upon hours of work and prayer.
Parishes in and around Topeka, as well as schools, organizations and individuals, have donated time and money.
Many collected donations in plastic baby bottles to go toward the sonogram machine and other needs.
In June, 26 people from Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish spent four hours at Mary’s Choices and “just did a remarkable job at cleaning,” said Colbern. The Knights of Columbus had already painted the facility.
Five women — all volunteers — staff Mary’s Choices.
Medical services include pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound, confidential counseling and referrals for prenatal care.
Referrals are also offered to address a number of other needs and issues, including medical insurance coverage, social services, adoption, post-abortion counseling and domestic abuse.
And the clinic extends a helping hand to families even after a baby has arrived, and to women not even considering abortion but with extenuating circumstances.
“We’re going to help these women until the babies are two,” said Colbern. “If the baby’s already here but they’re having a rough time of it, we can get them into services that can help them.”
The center is located on the site of the former convent of St. Joseph Parish, and the chapel was named in honor of Father Bruning.
How to help
Mary’s Choices accepts financial donations, which may be mailed to:
P.O. Box 8689
Topeka KS 66608
The facility will also accept donations of new items to help mothers and babies.
For a list of needed items (or for more information about Mary’s Choices), visit the website at: www.marysbabies.com.
Baby supplies and items for pregnant mothers may be taken to the facility at 306 S.W. Van Buren in Topeka during office hours.
To contact Mary’s Choices, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.