On Jan. 22, Pregnancy Decision Health Centers (PDHC) will celebrate 40 years of rescuing lives and impacting families for generations in central Ohio.
PDHC is known as a pioneer in pregnancy resource centers, the first of its kind to open in Columbus in 1981, on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. Founders Mike and Peggy Hartshorn of St. Mary Parish in German Village and other passionate pro-life friends joined the pro-life movement after this historical decision.
Sitting together around the kitchen table, they envisioned the first pregnancy help center to provide abortion-vulnerable women the compassionate care, hope and practical support needed to choose life for their babies. Before the first “Pregnancy Distress Center (PDC)” even opened its doors, they answered its first hotline calls from their home.
In the first year, they had 309 visits to their center and answered 2,800 hotline calls. One of the first women to receive help said, “The Pregnancy Distress Center is the best thing that happened to me at my time of need. There was love, understanding and guidance. I will never forget what you and the center did for me.”
Now, 40 years later, that first center has grown to become PDHC, with four locations and a thriving 24/7 hotline, saving thousands of lives since its founding. In 2020, PDHC had record highs of more than 6,900 center visits and over 35,000 calls, texts and chats to its hotline.
PDHC celebrated many “firsts” in 40 years. PDHC was the first pregnancy center in the United States to have multiple sites and branch offices. In 1984, PDHC became the first comprehensive pregnancy resource center of its kind in Ohio by providing four pillars of service to care for the whole person: mind, body, and soul. This includes pregnancy support through free personalized consultations, pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, linkage to community resources and outreach programs, and a 24/7 hotline.
In 1995, PDHC was the fourth center in the United States to add ultrasound services. This is important because 90 percent of women who see and hear their baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound choose life.
PDHC was the first pregnancy center in Franklin County and surrounding areas to provide abortion pill reversal services. Forty percent of all abortions in the United States occur through the abortion pill. Abortion pill reversal gives a woman who regrets taking the abortion pill a second chance to save her baby. PDHC saved lives in 2020 through this new service.
“PDHC is a place where women can feel support and not judgment. … The space was full of love and encouragement. … They made me feel welcomed and at home,” said Alissa, who gave birth to twins after coming to PDHC for help during an unexpected pregnancy.
PDHC’s family empowerment services provide women and families with practical support throughout their pregnancy and beyond with parenting education programs, free maternity and baby clothing, diapers, car seats, pack and play cribs and other needed baby items. In 2020, PDHC had a record-high 2,746 parenting class visits, up 62 percent from 2019.
“I loved all of the classes, teachers, nurses and volunteers. You were so kind and helpful to me. We will not forget all your kindness and support. We will miss you forever,” said Mia, 2020 parenting class graduate.
PDHC’s youth development services provide healthy choice education programs in middle and high schools to teach students about making healthy life choices to reduce the risky behaviors that lead to teen pregnancy and abortion. PDHC was the first pregnancy resource center in the United States to receive a federal grant for abstinence education.
PDHC’s abortion recovery programs provide hope and healing to women and men struggling in silence from the pain of a past abortion experience. PDHC was the first pregnancy center in the United States to develop a post-abortion support program. One in 4 women have experienced abortion and need to know where they can go for support and healing.
“I reached out for support. I look back at my journey and I’m overwhelmed by how I have grown stronger and feel more at peace,” said a program participant.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. We look forward to continuing the mission of rescuing lives and impacting generations for another 40 years.
To learn more, become a volunteer or to support the life-saving services of PDHC, visit SupportLifePDHC.org.
Together for Life,
Kathy Scanlon and the PDHC Team