By Tom Strode
JACKSON — For Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, partnering with the Psalm 139 Project in the placement of ultrasound machines at pregnancy resource centers in the state is one manifestation of what he describes as a long-standing desire.
Speaking Nov. 12 in Jackson, Lee told an audience gathered at the Birth Choice center for the dedication of an ultrasound machine, “One of the most important pieces of my job is to protect the lives of individuals in Tennessee. … But there’s no one in our state that’s more vulnerable than the unborn. And protecting the unborn is something that has long been in my heart as important for us to do as humans. … It’s long been in [his wife Maria’s] heart as well.
Birth Choice in Jackson received the machine for one of its mobile units as a result of a grant initiated by Lee in the 2021-22 state budget for the Psalm 139 Project, a ministry of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Psalm 139 received a grant of $182,900 from the state to fund the placement of seven ultrasound machines at pro-life pregnancy centers in Tennessee. Private gifts to Psalm 139 underwrite the training of staff in the use of the technology.
The dedication in Jackson came the same day supporters of a pro-life law in Tennessee received good news. State Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced the deadline had passed for abortion providers to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower-court decision upholding Tennessee’s 2015 measure that requires a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion.
The ERLC expects to place a total of as many as 25 ultrasound machines during 2021, including the seven provided by the state grant. It also has a goal of making 50 placements between December 2020 and January 2023, the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States.
The machine provided by the Psalm 139-Tennessee partnership enables Birth Choice not only to serve counties “that have high abortion rates with no pregnancy center available to them, (but) it also makes it possible to send out mobile units to them twice a week,” Birth Choice executive director Brent Lambert said in an ERLC news release.
“The ERLC has truly made these babies’ pictures worth a thousand words,” he said.
Elizabeth Graham, the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives, said in the release she was excited to partner with Birth Choice and to support its “mission to share the hope of the Gospel with West Tennessee.”
Birth Choice “is doing remarkable work to serve vulnerable mothers and save preborn babies,” she said, adding that she is thankful “for the generous partnership between our state leaders, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and the Psalm 139 Project so we can gift centers like Birth Choice with these life-saving machines at no cost to them. We will continue this work until abortion becomes illegal, unthinkable and unnecessary across the world.”
In introducing Lee to an audience standing in the rain at the dedication ceremony, ERLC acting president Brent Leatherwood described Lee and the state’s legislators as “partners for life” in the first such collaboration “we have ever been able to have with state government.”
Lee told those gathered for the dedication, “Everyone of us is created in the image of God, certainly the unborn, and we have an obligation and the opportunity to protect the unborn, not only through legislation but just through the efforts that we make in the community.” B&R For the full version of this story, visit Baptistandreflector.org.