Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City.
Rachel House’s mission is clear: It is an evangelical ministry with the primary goal of “protecting the unborn.” But the nonprofit doesn’t do picket signs and bloody-fetus images. Instead, it draws in young women facing unintended pregnancies with things like free pregnancy testing, first-trimester ultrasounds and baby supplies.
Sherry Payne is a wildcard on the Kansas City reproductive health scene. Born and raised in the easternmost (aka, the blackest) part of town, the 50-year-old had her first child at 16, a second at 17, then six more after she got married. Payne calls herself a product of crisis pregnancy centers like Rachel House.
Payne’s experience prompted her to transition out of nursing. She became a nurse educator and now she’s in her final year of midwifery education, a passion since she had six of her eight children at home. She also started a nonprofit called Uzazi Village, to combat black infant mortality rates in her city. With her own funds, Payne opened Uzazi in a storefront on 36th and Troost Ave., the city’s dividing line between poor and rich, black and white.
The deliberately homey, loft-like space has shiny wooden floors and African-inspired wall hangings. Here, Uzazi promotes natural, home-based childbirth. It also offers its clients free pregnancy testing and pregnancy confirmation for Medicaid eligibility; free doula and breastfeeding support; training for emerging doulas of color; STI/STD information and even support groups for LGBT youth. Payne doesn’t use the phrase “reproductive justice,” but Uzazi Village certainly embodies the concept.
- The Missionary Movement to ‘Save’ Black Babies (colorlines.com)
- The Misguided Missionary Movement to Save Black Babies (theroot.com)
- Crisis Pregnancy Centers Want to ‘Save’ Black Babies (jezebel.com)
- CareNet Pregnancy Centers mark 25 years (amarillo.com)
- Mirena IUD Complications Allegation Lawsuits Now Being Reviewed by Resource4thePeople Attorneys (prweb.com)