BANGOR — A baby bottle drive held by Knights of Columbus Pine Cone Council #114 in Bangor will allow future mothers to see the baby they are carrying, understand the humanity of the unborn, and help them choose life over abortion.

Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of parishioners, a new, state-of-the-art ultrasound unit has been purchased and delivered to the First Step Pregnancy Resource Center in Bangor.

“The ultrasound is fully functional and staff has been trained. It has the newest software and is the best 3D ultrasound of its type in Maine,” said Keith Forbes of the Bangor council. “The new unit’s outstanding imaging technology will assist clients of the First Step Pregnancy Resource Center in making informed decisions regarding unexpected pregnancies.”

The baby bottle drive was held over the winter, drawing donations from all four St. Paul the Apostle Parish communities (St. John Church, Bangor; St. Mary Church, Bangor; St. Joseph Church, Brewer; St. Teresa Church, Brewer; St. Matthew Church, Hampden; St. Gabriel Church, Winterport).

The idea was to collect spare change, bills, or checks and fill baby bottles with the money. All proceeds went to pay for the ultrasound unit at the center, which was founded in 1988 and treats all who come through the door with respect and compassion regardless of race, gender, life situations, or sexual orientation.

“Penni Hill, the executive director of the center, pointed out that the new 3D ultrasound machines are capable of discerning a fetal heartbeat at five weeks,” said Forbes. “Being able to demonstrate the wonder of a beating heart to a baby’s mom and dad could facilitate the life-saving decision to choose life.”

The baby bottle drive was part of the Ultrasound Initiative, which was launched nationally by the Knights of Columbus over a decade ago. Since it began, the Ultrasound Initiative has allowed the Knights of Columbus to purchase more than 900 ultrasound machines for pro-life pregnancy care centers across the country and in Canada. In each case, money is raised on a local level and then matched with a donation from the supreme council’s Culture of Life Fund.

“You never know what impact you’re going to have when a mom gets an ultrasound. Maybe they didn’t even know they were a mom, and there is that contemplation about whether or not they want to abort. The mother seeing their child on a video screen sometimes will make a world of difference,” said Mark Bourgoin of the Maine State Knights of Columbus.

In order for a pregnancy care center to receive an ultrasound machine, it must meet certain qualifications, including having a doctor, nurse, and ultrasound technician available.

In addition to offering pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, and prenatal care, the First Step Pregnancy Resource Center offers classes in baby basics, parenting, pregnancy, labor, and birth, as well as specialized workshops for dads. The center also organizes Bible study groups.