The mission of Life On Wheels’ is threefold: they use the power of ultrasound to serve women, save babies, and share Jesus.
The mobile unit that provides free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, and which serves women throughout the River Region and Birmingham, works to make women feel safe, supported, and loved, offering a three-step process to inform them and help them see their future clearly.
“We don’t judge them or hound them,” said Robyn Blessing, who has served as the ex-ecutive director of the nonprofit since its inception in late 2016. “We get them on the bus, show them the ultrasound of their own baby and we just believe the Holy Spirit does the work.”
• For clients who are uncertain of the pregnancy, Life On Wheels administers a urine pregnancy test to give them an-swers. If the test is negative, Blessing and her team can discuss a client’s fears or worries if she desires, and if it is positive, the team takes it from there.
• Ultrasounds can be expensive, but Life On Wheels understands their importance. The mobile has been equipped with an ultrasound machine so that a client can see for herself without having to worry about the cost.
• The team’s trained counselors share the truth that a woman is loved, supported, and show her that she does not have to walk through this alone. Clients are referred to pregnancy resource centers and community resources who can walk with her through the next phase of life.
Life On Wheels was the idea of Dr. Matthew Phillips, a partner with OB-GYN Associates, and who was seeing women in the emergency room who had had botched abortions. The mobile unit became a vision after a patient challenged him to create the opportunity for women.
Life On Wheels is an affiliate of ICU Mobile, an organization based in Ohio dedicated to serving women across the country.
The mobile unit can be found throughout the area, including on South Perry Street, on the Alabama State University campus (across from the Acadome), Mary’s Haven in Prattville, and the Elmore County Pregnancy Center.
The units travel to eight different locations weekly, positioning themselves in areas where many women need to find them. There are three full-time staff members, seven part-time, and 124 volunteers. Life On Wheels has one unit in the Montgomery area, and two in Birmingham.
The goal by 2030 is to have units all over the state, including Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Mobile.
Life On Wheels supports crisis pregnancy centers by partnering with Christian ministries and individuals to empower and assist pregnant women in making an informed, life-affirming decision for their child.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:13-14
“We use the power of ultrasound to give women an alternative,” Blessing said. “It does not matter that Alabama has banned abortions. They’re still being done in Georgia and Florida. What’s being pushed now is the abortion pills. Our goal is to reach the woman. Eighty-nine percent of women who see the baby on ultrasound change their minds.”
Recently, Roe vs Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. in 1973, was overturned, giving individual states the power to set their own abortion laws without concern of Roe, which had allowed abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
In Georgia, women are not allowed to have abortions at six weeks if a heartbeat is detected. Blessing said there are now women calling Life On Wheels to test and see how far along they are in their pregnancy.
“We’re doing a lot more education,” she said. “We’ve extended our hours. We have brought on more staff. We want to be available so women see us before they do something drastic.”
Phillips invited Blessing on the unit to serve alongside him. She shared with him that she had previously had an abortion, and until 2016, was pro-choice.
Blessing remembers being told by Phillips that God would forgive her sin, but Blessing didn’t realize it was a sin – she had never heard the word associated with what she did. She was married with a 5-year-old at the time and just remembers asking a nurse if she made it on time to have the abortion.
“I was a Christian when I had an abortion,” she said. “I was like, wow. What did I do? Why I do this (today), is because I don’t want women to be in the same situation. It’s going to be their choice, but I want to show them the truth.”
The average age of a client at Life On Wheels is between 20-29. Most already have a child. The youngest client they have seen was 12. The oldest, late 40s.
The only criteria for getting on the bus is that you can’t be currently under the care of a doctor. And to have an ultrasound, women must have a positive pregnancy test. Once the ultrasound is completed, the staff prints a photo for the woman. And they offer resources: domestic abuse help, 211, Medicaid, doctors in clinics.
“The main goal is to get them in a position to have a successful pregnancy,” Blessing said. “Then, of course, we do want them to know Jesus. We ask them, ‘May I ask you a question? If you were to die tonight, do you know if you would go to heaven?’
“What we find is many of them have accepted Jesus, but they feel guilty. We’re able to reassure them and pray with them. Almost everyone lets us pray with them. We ask permission to follow up to make sure they have the connections they need.”
There have been 208 professions of faith since the mobile unit first set out in December 2016. They have distributed more than 1,000 Bibles, and 309 women have changed their minds on abortions. Of the 5,436 women they’ve seen, they understand that number could be higher.
Churches throughout the region sup-port Life On Wheels. Denominations have come together to support the work being done.
“Even if we have different beliefs on how we worship, we can all rally around the fact that God loves life,” Blessing said. “We have 14 different denominations between the volunteers and staff. It’s just great to have so many people coming together for the same goal.
“I really see womens’ lives changed. The first part of our mission is to serve women. If we address whatever has brought the woman to this point – our bus – most women don’t want an abor-tion. About 75 percent are facing other situations such as money problems, family members. When we’re able to address it – and when they come back and bring their babies – it’s just amazing. I’ve never been part of anything that brings instant gratification.”
They say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’
How Life On Wheels is Funded
Private donations. Monthly contributions. Grants. The one fundraiser each year is “The Blue Jean BBQ.” This year, it is on November 17 at the Warehouse in downtown Montgomery, located at 130 Commerce Street. More information can be found at Life On Wheels Facebook page.
To volunteer, you can find an application at www.lifeonwheelsalabama.com. Or email with questions: mom@lifeonwheel-salabama. com. In the River Region, call (334) 202-4994. For the Birmingham Mobile Unit, call (205) 484 -7660 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Note: Men do not volunteer on the bus, but they can volunteer to be a part of the Pit Crew and drive or service the bus. Once the bus stops at their location, the men drive in a separate vehicle back to the office. Women serve as client advocates, or data entry volunteers.