According to program details on the Knights of Columbus website, councils must first identify qualified pregnancy centers and have these centers evaluated by the local diocese's Culture of Life director.
Evaluation criteria include whether the proposed beneficiary has the staffing, finances and other resources to justify the purchase of an ultrasound; whether the center's location, client load and hours of operation justifies the "major expenditure," ongoing costs, and staffing commitments; whether the center's practices, policies and history are consistent with Catholic ethics; and whether the pregnancy center is welcoming of Catholics as employees, volunteers and clients.
The Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic opened in December 2017 with support from the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
It aims to provide free medical care to uninsured or underinsured adults living in northern Virginia. Many of its patients are recently arrived immigrants. Its new expansion has rooms for prenatal care, offices for adoption services, space for the Gabriel Project service for pregnant mothers in need, and space for the Project Rachael ministry to post-abortive women, the Arlington Catholic Herald reports.
The clinic is presently open 24 to 36 hours per week for no-cost patient care. It averages 65-70 patients a week and 209 registered volunteers, including five primary care physicians, four nurse practitioners, two cardiologists, an obstetrician, a pulmonologist, an orthopedic doctor, a chiropractor, and a pharmacist. The clinic also gives referrals for other services.
Bishop Burbidge blessed the ultrasound machine, the new expansion, and those gathered at the clinic on Monday.
"We want to do everything we can to promote the gospel of life, but ultimately it's entrusting our work and our intentions to the Lord," he said, according to the Arlington Catholic Herald. "It's ultimately his work and upon his grace that we must depend."
The clinic is located in a medical office formerly occupied by one of the area's largest abortion clinics, Amethyst Health Center for Women, which closed in September 2015 when its owner retired.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization founded in 1882 by Connecticut priest Ven. Michael J. McGivney, have close to 2 million members worldwide.
It recently made the news when two Democratic U.S. senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned a Catholic judicial nominee about his membership in the group, citing its stands against abortion and same-sex marriage. They asked whether membership could prevent judges from serving "fairly and impartially." The questioning drew strong objections from many Catholics and other public figures.