Christopher Mann: Well, let me jump right into it. The Care Net conference in this past March of 2022 focused on bringing men into the pro-life conversation, more so of a focus than has been the recent past. I attended that; I was inspired. I'm curious about what you're experiencing on the back end as a result of that conference. What are you seeing in the pro-life movement? Is there a reawakening or is that perhaps just the first of many things that need to happen before you actually see some results?
Vince DiCaro: Well, thank you so much for attending that conference. Yeah, that was our called and missioned conference. It was the first ever - as far as we could tell, the first ever pro-life men's conference that's ever been done, not only by Care Net, but I think by anyone. And so, as we were preparing for that and going into that, we started to realize, oh, this is why no one's ever done a pro-life men's conference before. It was hard to figure out how to get people to show up. But at the end, God showed up and we got a great turnout for that conference. It was at Tony Evans Church as you know, which I think was a huge draw. So for us, this was actually something in a long line of things that we've been doing for the last several years to try to inspire more folks to consider men in the talk about the life issue and about abortion.
And so for us, I think what we've been seeing, and this has been going on for several years now, and I think the men's conference was just an additional catalyst for this, which is that our network of pregnancy centers, we have about 1200 affiliated pregnancy centers around the country, that they are becoming more and more inspired and equipped to serve men at their pregnancy centers. So, I think this conference was a great way to just kind of move that agenda forward even more than we have been able to over the last several years. So I would say we're definitely seeing more of our pregnancy centers taking a real interest in, okay, how do I actually start a men's ministry? How do I reach men in my community? How do I involve them in the pregnancy decision, et cetera, et cetera. So, that was definitely a huge part of why we did this conference.
But the other audience, well, there's two other audiences really that we're talking to as well which is churches. Again, for about five years now, we've really been trying to mobilize churches to do more to proactively do pro-life ministry within the church. And again, this conference was a catalyst to make that happen. So our church team is, again, able to sort of capitalize, I would say on some of the momentum that we built at that conference to talk to pastors and to talk to men's ministry, people about making that happen within the church. And then finally, it's just the general public, right. You know, Joe pro-life; what is he to do? If you're a pro-life guy, and you've always been pro-life, but you've always been told that it's none of your business. And so, we wanted to sort of inspire those folks as well, that there are things that you could do too. You can help your local pregnancy center; you can bring a ministry to your church, et cetera, et cetera. So these were the sorts of things that we were doing through that conference, and I think we definitely built some great momentum in that conference.
Christopher Mann: You think the PRCs - Pregnancy Resource Centers are reacting to a demand or are they sort of provoking that among the target audience, that is, do PRCs actually see men coming to the clinic with their wife or their girlfriend, what have you, and saying, I need help too? Or are they reacting to something that you might have already been doing to get them in the door and more engaged?
Vince DiCaro: That's a really good question. I think it probably varies honestly by community, the kind of population that a, a particular pregnancy center might be dealing with; you know, just different cultural values around fatherhood and different parts of the country, different demographics and that sort of thing. And so, there might be different challenges in different kinds of communities and that sort of thing. But I think the reality is that, men want to be involved and they just don't necessarily know how, and I'm talking about both men who are involved in a pregnancy decision. So, they got their girlfriend or wife or whoever pregnant, and they need a decision needs to be made. I think those men, they want to be involved, but they've been told for the last 50 years by our culture to stay out of it. If we want your opinion on abortion, we'll give it to you; that sort of thing.
And so, that case, there's a lot of guys out there that are sort of like, it's not going to take much to show them that, "Hey, you're welcome in here too." And so, it's just a question of pregnancy centers proactively letting their community know that this is not just a place for pregnant women, but it's also a place for fathers to come as well, and for men to come to get the same kind of support that this pregnancy center has been providing for the women in this community for the last however many decades. But if, of course, you're always going to have your guys that are just really, really difficult to reach, and a lot of our pregnancy centers come to us with that feedback as well.
We want to do men's ministry, we understand ideologically and philosophically what you at Care Net are saying, but we just can't get guys to get in the door. And so, that's where it's just going to take some hard work and creativity and innovation to really figure out, how do you get those guys involved in a positive way, because they are the most influential factor in that decision. We've done national surveys; a national survey of women, a national survey of men who have experienced abortion, and both women and men agree that the most influential factor in the abortion decision is the father of the child. So, we got to figure this out.
Christopher Mann: Okay, let me pivot on that point, because there's research that I've read recently, and I can't remember the study, perhaps you can help me fill in those blanks, but the narrative of the study goes something like this. There's a high percentage likelihood that a woman would love to choose life for her child, if only there was the present of a significant male with her. Now, that could be boyfriend, husband, but it also could be like caring uncle or father, or just well-known man neighbor. Do you know the study I'm referring to and is that part of the future of the pro-life movement? It sounds like it is.
Vince DiCaro: Yeah. I mean, I don't think I've seen that particular study. But the studies that we have seen when women are asked, you know, why did you have an abortion? If you look at the top10 reasons that women give; several of them are in some way, shape or form, basically saying that if they had support from the father of the child, they probably would not have had the abortion. And so, that we know for sure. So obviously, the father of the child was going to be the most influential factor. But you're right, I mean, I think in general, abortion thrives on isolation, fear, loneliness, those sorts of things, that's an environment... that's actually why during the pandemic. You saw a lot of sort of demand for frankly, both sides for what pregnancy centers do and for what abortion clinics do.
Because that there was that time there in, you know, 2020, 2021, where there was a whole lot of isolation happening in our country. People were feeling alone, scared, isolated; then you throw an unplanned pregnancy into the mix in that kind of environment, you know, that's where abortion can thrive. And so, if a woman who's facing an unplanned or unexpectedly complicated pregnancy knows that she's going to be surrounded by people who care about her; that's when she's the least likely to choose abortion. And when she knows that she's going to have the support that she needs over the 18 years or so of that child's life; that's when she's least likely to choose an abortion. And so, whether it's the father of the child the people in the community, like at her church or a church, she might not be going to church, but people in the local churches, people at the pregnancy center, her extended family, whoever it might be, those people need to surround her with love and compassion so that she knows that she has that kind of support.
So, I haven't seen a particular study it's specifically about a male figure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's male figures or frankly, any person or group of people who are willing to surround that person with the support that they need. But clearly all of that said, the father of the child is absolutely the most important person. And we know that because frankly that's God's design for family. And you know, Care Net is a ministry; we're not just a pro-life organization. We are a pro-life organization, but we're not just a pro-life organization, we're a Christian ministry. And so, we really want to make sure that folks not just have life, but abundant life. And one of the ways in which folks have abundant life is by making sure that God's designed for family is honored, and that we're building strong, God honoring families. A mother and a father married to each other, loving their child, loving God, and that's really what we're trying to build out.
Christopher Mann: Well, let me pivot on that and ask you sort of a therefore question. Maybe it's a... I guess I have more of a statement, but I wish I could pose this in a question a d maybe you can help me. If in fact you'd had this first time conference with men, you found out how hard it was, perhaps they're surprised to find out how easy it was. God showed up and made it happen; however you defined and fill that in. In Business For Life is an organization that's trying to marshal people with assets in the marketplace to support the cause of life. And basically, what we have with a lot of men, some women too, who want to bring their expertise, whether that's their time, treasured talent, temperament, whatever, to bear upon abortion decisions and advocate for life - over perhaps over simplified. There's a lot of men who would like to help out, but they don't know how. And as you're having this pioneering conference, we also happen to be in the context of the on the eve of a time where Roe V Wade may fall entirely. It's going to at least fall impartial. It's going to fall to some extent, right. What's going to be the future here? It seems like, at least the future is going to be greater male involvement.
Vince DiCaro: Yeah. Well, we certainly hope so. From our perspective, there's two things that really need to happen in the future of the pro-life movement for us to really achieve complete victory. Obviously overturning Roe versus Wade is a key strategy along the road to victory, but it is not the end of the fight. Really, it's just the end of the beginning of the fight. It's a legal victory and an important legal victory. When there are unjust laws or unjust Supreme Court rulings, they need to be overturned, so that absolutely needs to happen. But when that does happen and States begin to make their own laws around abortion; there are going to be many states where things aren't really going to frankly change that much, because they're just going to basically keep abortion as legal or even more legal and accessible than it is now.
You know, certain States have vowed to basically say that if Roe versus Wade gets overturned, we will make any and all abortions legal, for any and all reasons at any point during pregnancy. So, there's still going to be an enormous amount of work to do. And from our perspective, two things need to happen in order to serve, frankly, even more women and men, because in an environment in which abortion is more difficult to get, people are going to be seeking alternatives. Where do they go for help? They can't go to the abortion clinic anymore, so where do they go? Who's going to be there to support them as they're making that decision? And for us, that's what the pro-life movement needs to do. And frankly, it's what we have always done.
So when people ask us, like, what are we doing to prepare for the overturning of Roe versus Wade? Well, we basically say, "Well, we've been preparing for the overturning of Roe versus Wade ever since we started doing what we do, ministering to women and men making pregnancy decisions." So, I still haven't gotten to the two things that need to happen, so I apologize for that. Let me get to those two things now. One is that yes, absolutely, men need to become more involved in a positive way, right? Not only the father of the child, but just men in general. You ask the question, men kind of don't know what maybe they're supposed to do.
So if they do decide, okay, I want to get involved in the life issue. And this is where the second thing comes in, which is the church. Local churches need to step into this game in a big, big, big way. There's about, I think... you hear different estimates, 2,500, 3000, 3500 pregnancy centers in the country. But there's about 400,000 churches in the country. Actually, if 1% of the churches in the country decided to do proactive pro-life ministry in their community, we'd go from say 3000 "pregnancy centers" to 7,000, right, you have 4,000 churches, 1% of 400,000. And in an illustration of how these two things come together, and they both need to happen and they're both related, but they're both equally important. So when the church gets involved, it actually can give men a clearer vision of how they can help.
And a perfect example of this is the church of one of the people who works here at Care Net, found out about a client at the local pregnancy center who had six kids and was pregnant with the seventh and wanted to have an abortion. So, the people at the church found out about this case that was happening at a pregnancy center. And that church stepped up big time to basically provide the support that this woman needed in order to choose life for her family. So guess what, there were a bunch of guys at the church that knew how to build stuff. So they actually completely remodeled this woman's basement to turn it into basically a place where her kids could study and do school and like have computers and the whole thing. There was all kinds of, I think, other repairs that needed to happen to her house. And guess what, there were guys at the church that stepped in and did all this stuff at this woman's house.
And then I can't even remember frankly, all of the things that happened, but there was just a series of things that this woman needed support and help with over this several month period in order for her to feel confident that she had the support that she needed to choose life for her child. And the men in that church played an enormous role in that because they saw, "Oh, so what this person doesn't need a lecture about the evil of abortion; this person needs a computer room for her kids."
You know, this person needs to be driven to church on Sunday because she can't get there. You know, she needs a new car. Oh guess, well, I know a mechanic who was about to, you know, he has this car that he could just kind of fix up and it'll be great for her and it's not that expensive. Or I know how to fix car, so she needs to get rid of her car and she needs to buy a new one and she can't afford it. Well, I can probably just go and fix her car because I know how to fix car. Again, she doesn't need an apologetic about fetal development; she needs real life practical support from a loving church community. And that's where I think guys can start to see, oh, so I don't need to like know how to talk to a woman who's pregnant about not having an abortion, because that seems really hard and awkward and uncomfortable.
And is she going to want to listen to a guy about talking to her about that sort of thing? But no, but I know how to fix cars. I know how to drive. I know how to build out basements. I know how to do all this stuff. And then you suddenly see, oh, that's how I can become involved in the "life issue". So, that's what we're talking about in terms of making sure that the church is... this is the long-term support and the long-term discipleship that frankly the church is actually designed to do that pregnancy centers were never set up to do. Pregnancy centers are great from the moment a woman finds out she's pregnant to maybe about a year or so after she has her child. Pregnancy centers are amazing at providing support during that pivotal, pivotal time period. But you have a five year old; there's not a whole lot the pregnancy center is really going to be able to do aside from refer you to other resources in the community that are going to be able to continue to support you. And the church needs to be that number one resource.
Christopher Mann: Yeah. So you're talking about something of a handshake between a pregnancy resource center and the local church. So when there is a need, if the cause for the need is perceived by someone who is aware, "Hey, this woman wants to choose life, but has X, Y, Z obstacles getting in that decision way, she knows that there's a, he or she doing counseling probably a she, knows that there's ABC churches available with Tom, Dick and Harry who have hammers and power drills and whatever else. Are there actually - I'm getting really granular here. I'm going to use my home State as an example, Indiana. Indiana will probably likely become a pro-life State. It's going to take some work - not sure what's going to happen this year or next. The politics of the next few weeks will determine that. But in the meantime, we will likely have Illinois as a pro-abortion State next to us to be legal, likely.
So as people are traveling back and forth between the East Chicago section in Indiana and the Chicago, Chicago part of Illinois, that's a very transient traffic there. And any woman in Indian Indiana who doesn't want her baby can go to Illinois and get the abortion. So strategically, we need a handshake between pregnancy resource centers and Crown Point Indiana and Chicago PRCs probably, some sort of bill billboard campaign, but also some people on the ground there with a red phone to local churches saying, we know how to handle these things. Am I imagining the combo here?
Vince DiCaro: Yeah, that's absolutely what needs to happen. And over the last several years, more and more of our pregnancy centers around the country are doing this amazingly amazing. Well, I was just talking to one of our affiliates in the Dallas, Texas area, and the executive director told me that they actually have 52 church partners in the area, many of which basically stand ready to take that kind of hand off. So, the client gets what they need at the pregnancy center, and then they can be kind of handed off, so to speak, to the church for that long-term support and discipleship.
So yes, that is the sort of thing that 100% needs to happen. And it's going to happen in a lot of different ways. In some cases, it's going to be the pregnancy center in the community, basically stepping out in leadership and going to those local churches and saying, "Hey, this is our vision for what the future needs to look like here in a post Roe versus Wade environment, and we need to be working together. These are all of our clients. These aren't the pregnancy centers clients; these are your clients too. We need to just look at it this way and work together." And in some cases it's going to be the churches. The churches are going to be that catalyst in the community that's going to say, "You know what, we need to be doing this in a proactive way. Let's go out to the three pregnancy centers that are in our area with a coalition of churches and say, 'We're here, we stand ready to help you. How can we support you for the long term support and discipleship of your clients?'" So it's going to vary by community; either way, it's great.
We often like to say that pregnancy centers are para church ministries. It's not that churches are para pregnancy center ministries. So, the church needs to sort of like realize, kind of have its eyes open to this reality. And they often do when it's presented in this way, which is that the church is the seat of discipleship. These pregnant people that need care in your community are actually your clients, and the pregnancy center is helping for a time, but really, they're yours. It's like a lawyer and a paralegal, right. The client belongs to the lawyer and not the paralegal, that sort of thing. And so, that's the vision that we're casting for churches, and when you frame it that way, the light bulbs go off and they get it. And so, we're just hopeful that we'll continue to be able to expand that.
Christopher Mann: You're hopeful. Is it happening? Are you getting pushback? Is there any reception?
Vince DiCaro: Oh yeah, it absolutely is growing. I would say that it's slow, but significant growth over the last several years where more and more churches are getting engaged. I mean, we have a program, a very concrete program that churches can use to get themselves sort of inspired and equipped around this issue. It's called Making Life Disciples. And it's a tool that basically trains first responders in that church to care for the abortion vulnerable in the church and in the community and to partner with pregnancy centers in doing that. And so, we've been distributing more and more of that resource called Making Life Disciples. And then from the pregnancy center side of things, we're having more and more of our affiliated pregnancy centers come to us and say, "Hey, we're finally getting our local churches to work with us with our clients, and so it's happening from both ends.
Christopher Mann: I love it. When are you coming to Fort Wayne?
Vince DiCaro: Whenever you want us to. Yeah, I mean, if you know pastors, church leaders and or pregnancy center leaders in Fort Wayne, let us know who they are. I mean, obviously we would know who our pregnancy centers in that area are. But yeah, we would love to come out there. We have four people now or five people now on our church team, including somebody in the Midwest now, brand new person whose job is it is going to be to make these kinds of connections; to get those churches, get those pregnancy centers, bring them together and say do your thing.
Christopher Mann: Great. Vince DiCaro, Care Net out in Maryland, thank you so much for your time.
Vince DiCaro: Absolutely. Thank You.