Local pro-life advocates are unveiling the newest weapon in their arsenal: a motor home with an ultrasound machine, which they plan to park outside area abortion clinics.

The group, Alive ‘n Kicking, led by Greg Gesch of Milwaukee, hopes to persuade women to abandon their scheduled abortions after seeing the growing baby within their wombs.

“When women get to see their babies in the ultrasound, we have more than a 90 percent turn away rate of abortion-bound women,” said Gesch, active in pro-life ministry since 1986. “And we don’t stop there, but we assess the woman’s needs and will network with different agencies that can deal with helping them, from diapers to doctors.”

Alive ‘n Kicking’s 33-foot-long class “A” ultrasound motorhome elevates the effort to save the lives of babies to a new level. Theirs is one of the few mobile ultrasound vehicles in the nation.

“We bought this motorhome from Chris Slattery, who runs Front Line Ministries in New York; he is the guru of mobile and ground pregnancy ministries,” said Gesch. “They had two of them, but unfortunately there is now a Slattery law in New York City because they were so effective and unpopular with politically correct people that they no longer allow motorhomes to park in the city proper. Now Chris and his crew operate out of a small, converted high-top bus.”

“We went to the RV show in Milwaukee and were looking around for someone to do some conversion work on this motor home,” said Gesch. “God intervened and I found a flier about Wegge’s RV Superstore, that it was a family operation and Christian. I thought that maybe they could at least point us in the right direction.”After purchasing the RV a couple of years ago, Gesch and his team searched for someone to revamp the late model RV to make a clinic in the back with space for the yet-to-be-acquired ultrasound unit.

After explaining their needs, Tim Wegge, CEO of Burlington RV and Travel, assured Gesch they could refurbish the RV and create an exam room suitable for the ultrasound unit.

Wegge and his employees worked more than 50 hours and added parts over several months to remodel the RV.

“It wasn’t just the tear out and remodel, but the home also needed some TLC and roof repairs,” said Wegge. “We checked to make sure all of the life support of the home, such as the heating, cooling and water systems were working and were adequate enough to make the RV a self supportive unit.”

When the remodeling project was finished, Gesch braced himself for a large bill for the immense amount of work, but Wegge, a pro-life advocate and member of Immaculate Conception Parish, Burlington, did not charge anything for his work.

“It was just an important thing in my life and they are a not-for-profit group,” he explained. “It felt good and it looked really good to completely see the end result and know that this is something that is going to work for them. We are very proud of what we did. They are helping to save lives and we are so glad to be a small part of their work.”

According to Dan Miller, 40 Days for Life Coordinator, the addition of the mobile ultrasound offers a two-pronged approached to assist sidewalk counselors who minister outside of abortion clinics that do not have a crisis pregnancy center within walking distance.

“Sidewalk counselors are effective, but the numbers go way up when they have a good quality ultrasound near by,” said Miller, a member of St. Peter and Paul Parish, Milwaukee. “Everyone these days wants an ultrasound of their baby, whether they want an abortion or not.”

Gesch, 62, a former truck driver, social worker and member of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, is using his savings to ensure babies are saved from abortion and is stunned Wegge did not charge for the remodeling.

“I thought my brain froze when I found out,” he said, scrambling for words. “I was astounded to a point that we have had battles and blessings and been vandalized a few times; we have had people step up financially, little people give sacrificially and I was just astounded. Perhaps humbled is the best word, but it is something between the two.”

The state-of-the-art counseling office within the RV is stark white and technically advanced, similar to a doctor’s office or hospital, and contains a new ultrasound machine donated by a well-known national company with recognized liberal policies. For Gesch, this was probably the greatest surprise.

“I was so shocked that this company decided to present us with this top-of-the-line ultrasound machine,” he said. “The company is very liberal and I’m not sure how this happened, but we have a better ultrasound machine than many clinics have.”

Unfortunately, due to a serious injury to Alive ‘n Kicking’s ultrasound technician, the RV is parked on the premises of RV Superstore until another technician is located.

Gesch hopes an ultrasound technician will come forward soon to volunteer a few hours a week to perform ultrasounds.

“We are greatly in need of a tech and it is a big priority because our ministry cannot survive without it,” he said. “We are looking for someone to volunteer in this faith ministry one day a week and we hope to build from there.”

Pro-life work has become a passion for Gesch, who returned to his Lutheran roots approximately 20 years ago after attending a concert in Brookfield by a group called Mason Profit.

“They sang folk rock and fusion and often addressed social issues in their concerts,” he explained. “Here I was clapping and moving my feet at this concert for the first three of four songs and then all of a sudden they played this song about the unborn child. My feet and hands stopped, the world stopped, and I made a commitment right then and there to devote the rest of my life to saving lives.” Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic Herald