Recently, the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values, Dr. Paul Kengor, explained that an Obama administration will likely eliminate the legislative and legal tools that the pro-life community has been trying to use to reduce or eliminate abortion in America (see “Pro-life Death?”). Indeed, pro-lifers may find themselves turning to the courts to protect the rights of pro-life organizations. In the midst of such huge setbacks, pro-lifers should not wallow in defeat. There are great opportunities to save unborn babies as well as empower women. There are Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) ready to lead the fight for women and the unborn.
Why do women have abortions? While the particular circumstances vary, all have in common a belief that abortion will improve their lives, or at least keep their lives from getting worse. PRCs meet women where they are to take away the perceived need for abortion.
Abortion providers are not in the business of providing abortions because they are magnanimous and want to help women. They charge high fees for their “services.” This is why they desire taxpayer funds to perform abortions. With subsidies, more clients could afford abortions. Planned Parenthood is not interested in helping women with the life issues that bring them to the clinic.
Pregnancy Resource Centers, in contrast, exist to help women with these life issues. I know the mission of PRCs well, as I serve on the board of one, Pregnancy Services of Western PA. We want our clients to understand the realities of abortion for themselves as well as their babies. When we save babies, we are also saving women from future pain and guilt. Our services cost our clients nothing. We are not in business to make money. We are in the business of helping women with the life issues that brought them to the point of considering abortion. We save babies and help women transform their lives.
Some claim that those who support women must support access to abortion. This is a misguided tragedy. Abortion is often used to hide the abuse of women. Far from being an instrument of sexual freedom, abortion is often a tool for sexual subjugation. When a man uses a woman sexually with no commitment to her, abortion becomes an easy way to hide the evidence of the abuse. Many women who consider abortion believe they are unlovable and do not get out of these abusive relationships. The caring staff of a PRC can teach a woman that she is worthy of love and that she does not have to yield to a man’s pressure to abort her child. After knowing they are worthy of love, our clients can accept referrals to other agencies that can help them get out of abusive relationships. By helping women know they are worthy of love, and that they do not have to remain in abusive relationships, we take away the perceived need for abortion.
Many of our clients consider abortion because they believe they cannot care for a child. Often these women are correct. We can help a client understand that abortion is not the solution when one is not ready to care for a child. These clients are referred to adoption agencies so the gift of life can be shared with parents who are longing for a child. They are also provided with emotional support during pregnancy and if needed during the delivery. By showing women the value of the life growing inside them, and lovingly standing with them through the pregnancy and adoption process, we take away the perceived need for abortion.
Other clients may simply need assistance to care for a child they would like to have. PRCs provide pregnancy-support companions who give emotional support and child-care instruction. As clients complete educational programs, they earn maternity and baby supplies. By providing personal support, education, and material needs, we take away the perceived need for abortion.
As nonprofit organizations, PRCs often operate on a shoestring budget with a staff consisting primarily of volunteers. Yet to reach their full potential, PRCs need stable support. For example, showing a woman an ultrasound image of her baby dramatically increases the odds that she will choose life. The perceived need for abortion is changed by recognizing the reality of the humanness of individual unborn babies. Ultrasound machines are awesome tools, but they are expensive and require a medical staff and appropriate insurance coverage.
With the closing of legislative and legal paths to reduce abortion, Pregnancy Resource Centers are more important than ever. By supporting PRCs we can take away the perceived need for abortion. I encourage you to get to know the PRC in your area. The changes that are coming in the fight for life are not reasons for despair. Those of us who are involved with PRCs see victories regularly. Yes, the pro-life movement has suffered an electoral setback. Yet, if we rally around our local PRCs, victory is at hand.