Working inside the bubble of Washington, you grow used to the idea that sound-bites, raising money for the next election or strategizing on how to win the majority back from your opponent are the most important things. If you stop and listening to the work of amazing women around the nation, you will realize that, while our work here in Washington is important, there are people on the ground who are providing support, love, and assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies or healing from abortion. These women are heroes to me.
They are on the ground, working tirelessly to give women a choice and a chance to be a mother or a birth mother. They provide options, not just while the women are pregnant, but they make sure that they have the tools and the skills to take care of their babies or help prepare the mothers for the greatest gift of adoption. They don’t demonize the abortion industry or dehumanize the women or prenatal child. In fact, some receive referrals from abortion clinics for women who don’t want an abortion.
The common thing among all these women is that they do not talk about pressure or hate or shame. Their stories all speak of support, love, and empowerment. Women are strong and we can face any “obstacle” particularly if our sisterhood is along for the ride to lift us up instead of knocking us down. And, these sisters are doing just that!
An interesting coincidence among the group is that they all started their organizations within a few years of each other. It is as if a force greater than ourselves touched each of them and said there is an alternative when a woman faces an unplanned pregnancy and you can and must provide that alternative. The excitement about what they were all doing lit up the room when each had the opportunity to talk about their individual programs. It was pride in the success of their organization. It was the pure joy they felt in helping women see their full potential. It was infectious.
So infectious that I want to share their good work with you. I may not be able to properly share the emotion that they demonstrate when speaking, but maybe it will inspire you as it inspired me.
Amy Ford formed Embrace Grace as a way to help churches be “a non-judging place for girls to go to when they find themselves pregnant, instead of the last place they go.” Amy had a negative experience with her church when she faced her own teen pregnancy. Under Amy’s steady hand the ministry has grown to help 229 churches, as of June 16, 2016, provide “emotional, practical and spiritual support” for young mothers (www.embracegrace.come). The churches adopt the girls and provide weekly support culminating with a baby shower and even a princess party where the girls get complimentary haircuts and make-up. Who doesn’t like to feel pretty?
Brandy Swindle, long-time friend of DFLA started the Stanton Project in Boise, Idaho. Her work was recently highlighted in Cosmopolitan Magazine “Meet the Woman Who Wants to Take Down Planned Parenthood”. Stressing the importance of respect for women, her medical center offers free healthcare and support to women. They opened their first medical center in 2006 right next to the abortion clinic and offer women alternative choices to abortion. They added a mobile clinic in 2003 to serve the rural and immigrant communities. This service is invaluable as many low income people face transportation challenges. The Medical Center is named after Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who stated, “When we consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to dispose of as we see fit.”
Based in Minnesota, Leah Jacobson founded Guidingstar, which provides comprehensive healthcare for women with a goal of recognizing “the true beauty and dignity of women and their families”. The Guidingstar facilities offer full service care for women including medical care, pregnancy support services, childcare drop off, Community Resources, counseling, a chapel, adoption services and a family lounge. I’m happy to note that Guidingstar has recently added a third official affiliate, which is located in Tampa, Florida. The organization is currently in contact with people across the country working to further increase this number.
Telitha’s soft, loving and non-judgmental support for women is a sharp contrast to inside-the-beltway politics. Based out of Los Angeles, Claris Health has been serving and supporting women for over 40 years. The Medical Center offers counseling, mentorship and other resources including healing after abortion or miscarriage. One woman who sought Claris Health’s help is quoted on their website as saying “I knew [the client advocate] emphasized with me. I knew her guidance was real. I could trust Claris.” Another client, writing under the name Rachel for privacy reasons, has her story featured on the website and concludes with a simple, telling sentence: “Thank you, Claris Health, for helping me find peace”.
This is just a sample of four incredible women making a difference in the lives of thousands of women. Each in their own unique way but all with the common thread of respect and empowerment for women. How many more Amy’s, Brandi’s, Telitha’s or Leah’s are out there doing this important work, making a difference in the lives of women every day? Could you be the next?
Democrats for Life of America is delighted to partner and support these women and their goals. Please help us continue to work to provide a full national movement supporting and empowering women.