MINOT – Help for pregnancies continues to grow in Minot and the surrounding areas as a local pregnancy help center expands its services.
Dakota Hope Clinic offers free and confidential pregnancy care for parents struggling with a pregnancy. Established in 2013, the clinic will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September.
Nadia Smetana, director of Dakota Hope Clinic and registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing degree, said over the past year most of the clinic’s growth has been in client visits for its Earn While You Learn program.
The program allows parents to sit in on free video-based lessons on over 300 different topics of practical and relationship parental care, earning points the more lessons they take, whether online or in-person. The points can be used for free child-care products at the clinic.
“It used to be that we’d have people come while they’re pregnant,” said Smetana. “We opened it up to anyone parenting an infant or toddler who could use the education and the free baby supplies. We have people coming in now, even if they didn’t come to us while they were pregnant, they can participate.”
Smetana said grandparents and siblings have participated in the Earn While You Learn Program. The clinic is putting together a volunteer system to take care of children while parents sit in on the lessons.
Smetana said the clinic sees 29 total visits per week, and 1500 per year. The clinic serves an average of 250 new clients per year for all of its services.
“The main thing we do is offer support to moms and dads that are pregnant and maybe they’re struggling with the idea of being pregnant,” said Smetana. “Maybe the pregnancies are unintended or for any other reason they’re struggling with the pregnancy.”
The clinic offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.
“We do not ever recommend or refer for abortion because we know it’s harmful to women and men as well as the baby,” said Smetana. “We do talk about abortion if that’s one thing they are considering. We try to educate them about what abortion really is, and how it’s done, and also with potential side effects for women and men participating.”
Smetana said about half of Dakota Hope’s clients may be considering abortions for their unintended pregnancies, though after visiting the clinic over 90% choose not to have an abortion.
“We can’t control what they decide, but we can offer them alternatives,” said Smetana. “There are many reasons why they may think they have no other choice. We talk about how at the beginning of conception that child is unique. The DNA in that tiny organism even when it’s just one cell is a unique person that will never be repeated and has never been before.”
Several North Dakota abortion laws took effect after the United States Supreme overturned Roe v. Wade in June of 2022.
“It’s given us more of a sense of urgency,” said Smetana. “We anticipate that our client load may grow because of that, because maybe more women will come to a pregnancy center before they go to an abortion center.”
The clinic offers a program called Discovery Peace for women who have had an abortion and regret it. Dakota Hope is planning to start a similar program for men.
“We know that the men involved are hurting also,” said Smetana. “They may have encouraged or paid for the abortion, even if they drove the women to the abortion center trying to be supportive. Maybe they fought against her having an abortion, but really they don’t have any legal right to stop her from having an abortion.”
Dakota Hope will refer clients to abortion pill reversals.
The other 50% of Dakota Hope’s clients might include families in the Air Force who are far away from family support, or families who are struggling with their intentional pregnancies for other reasons.
“We encourage our clients if they were raised in the Christian faith to get back in touch with their childhood faith, and we can help them with that, but we don’t force it on anyone,” said Smetana. “You don’t have to be a Christian or hold any particular belief system to take advantage of services at our clinic.”
In the last year, Dakota Hope has increased its total number of donors by 13%, its total revenue by 21% and its total income from monthly donors by 23%.