“Fleet for Little Feet” Supports Women, Babies
When abortion rights supporters ask if pro-lifers are going to take care of women in unplanned pregnancy situations after Roe v. Wade is overturned, Leslee Unruh responds with an enthusiastic "Oh yes!" Part of that answer will soon be rolling down South Dakota's highways to a town near you.
Unruh, a strong supporter of South Dakota's abortion ban HB 1215 and president of the Sioux Falls-based Abstinence Clearinghouse, said the "Fleet for Little Feet" bus project is a long-time dream come true.
Fleet for Little Feet is a 40-foot long 1989 Prevost bus which was recently purchased to provide a number of services to women all across South Dakota, especially with women in rural areas in mind.
The bus was purchased by Dwight & Deb Beaukelman of Sioux Falls from Bill Connor of Prairie Coach Trailways in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. Connor was the owner and driver of this “Angel Bus” which was used to take ill children home from the Mayo Clinic. In its new life the bus will be used to help unborn and newborn children and their mothers.
Unruh said several years ago she talked to a woman from Florida who ran a crisis pregnancy center which was destroyed in Hurricane Andrew. Someone gave them a bus which was then used to reach out to women in unplanned pregnancies with free ultrasounds.
"I was really touched by this and started dreaming about doing this in South Dakota," Unruh said. " I talked to some people about making it happen, but the doors never opened. But after the legislature voted to pass HB 1215, as I was driving home I got the feeling that we really needed to do this, to do whatever we could so women wouldn't feel they have to choose abortion."
Unruh said that even as pregnancy services are expending in South Dakota with centers in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and other areas, many rural areas still lack the resources women need. "This will enable us to work from town to town," she said.
According to Unruh, the bus is in very nice shape. She said they have driven it to a few meetings around the state and people are really impressed when they drive up.
Fleet for Little Feet is currently under the umbrella of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, but will soon be an independent organization. FFLF will provide baby supplies (diapers, formula, bottles, baby clothes, baby furniture, high chairs, etc.), ultrasounds, counseling services including post-abortion counseling, information about sexuality issues, and even plans to perform a play called "Scar."
All these services will be provided to the women and families of South Dakota free of charge. The majority of people working with FFLF will be volunteers, but there will still be considerable expenses such as gas, insurance, pregnancy tests, educational materials, and anything associated with FFLF that isn't donated, so Unruh hopes that churches and other community organizations will help pay for these services.
FFLF will be sending out information to community churches before visits, asking people in local areas if they would like to be trained to help when the bus arrives in their community. FFLF also plans to coordinate with area doctors who may volunteer to perform some of the ultrasounds and other pregnancy care to the women in their area.
Unruh says several pro-life groups have expressed an interest in supporting FFLF including: Lutherans for Life, CareNet Pregnancy Resource Center in RC, South Dakota Right to Life, Rock for Life South Dakota, Operation Outcry, Silent No More, Truth for Youth, and a number of college pro-life groups. About 30 or 40 of the women who provided affidavits to the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion will be volunteering on the bus to provide post-abortion counseling. But Unruh stresses that local volunteers will be needed to provide the best possible service to women and families in each area.
FFLF began its tour of South Dakota June 26 at the park in the town of Canton, South Dakota. The bus will be going to parks, doctor's office parking lots, college campus', malls, and many other public venues, in towns both large and small. A schedule will be made available soon. There will also be a telephone number that people can call to request a visit to their community from FFLF and to volunteer.
Unruh says she isn't worried about protests by abortion rights activists when FFLF shows up. She said she doesn't think activists will want to hinder or intimidate women from receiving this free care, and even if they do show up, FFLF will have the proper permits and governmental permission which will ensure they are able to care for women seeking their services.
Until FFLF becomes a separate organization, Unruh says people who want to donate can give their gifts to the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls or the CareNet Pregnancy Resource Center in Rapid City, designating them as being for Fleet for Little Feet.