“… Therefore, in firmly rejecting 'pro-choice,' it is necessary to become courageously 'pro-woman,' promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women…. The experiences of many counseling centers show that the woman does not want to suppress the life of the child she carries within her” — Pope John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
There is no doubt that January 22, 1973 was one of the darkest days in our nation's history. On that day, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that unborn
children had no legal right to life and could be killed, up to the moment of birth. An estimated 1.5 million preborn babies have been slaughtered each year through legal abortion since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.
Ever since, pro-lifers have been actively involved in fighting the grave evil of abortion through prayer, sidewalk counseling, and peaceful protest in front of the abortion mills.
While most abortions are procured for selfish reasons, a significant number of abortion-seeking women do choose life for their babies when provided with loving alternatives.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) — also known as pregnancy counseling centers or pregnancy care centers — help to provide those loving alternatives to the horrid “choice” of abortion. There are over 2,000 CPCs nationwide that have essentially the same mission: to save the lives of unborn children threatened by abortion by providing effective, morally acceptable means of reaching, informing, and helping their mothers and families.
One organization sharing this important mission is The Women's Center, located in Chicago. The Women's Center (formerly known as Des Plaines Pro-Life) was founded by Conrad Wojnar, a devout Catholic and the father of seven children. The center operates out of four Chicago-area locations with a small but dedicated group of volunteers and staff. Funded entirely by private donations and fund-raising projects, The Women's Center saves nearly 2,000 babies a year from abortion!
Like many other CPCs around the country, The Women's Center believes that the most effective way to reach the largest number of abortion-bound women is simply to advertise as an agency which helps women confronting problem pregnancies. The staffers provide “neutral image” counseling, which gives the women pro-life-information in a way and a time when they are prepared to accept it.
According to Wojnar, “About 40 to 50% of pregnant mothers think they have their minds made up about getting an abortion but can be 'turned around'— if we can get their attention before they enter an abortuary and provide them with facts regarding fetal development and the medical risks they face in going through an abortion. … At least 60% of those who are pregnant and originally say they are 'seeking abortion' change their minds and give birth!”
Other policies and services of The Women's Center include: maintaining a Christ-like attitude and philosophy, offering all work to the Lord in prayer; fostering and encouraging chastity and abstinence for all unmarried clients; introducing Natural Family Planning to married clients (artificial birth control is not presented as an option); informing the client about abortifacients and their dangers; strengthening spiritual values and beliefs through ongoing counseling; ensuring confidentiality; providing adoption referrals and post-abortion counseling; and distributing free clothing, food, furniture, and layettes to families in need.
The center's main office also contains a chapel with daily Mass and eucharistic adoration — the necessary spiritual support for the organization's baby-saving work.
It is true that many CPCs are not Catholic in identity. Still, they provide a valuable resource to the woman facing a “problem” pregnancy, and thus deserve much support from the pro-life community.
Matt C. Abbott is the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-life Action League, respectively. He is also a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper, where this article first appeared. It is reprinted electronically with the permission of the author.