By Jess Meeth, DFLA National Communications Director
Imagine you are a woman who has just found out about an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy. You are going through a range of mixed emotions. Understandably, you feel shock and panic. You may also feel alone and anxious. A part of you may be excited and wants to keep your baby, but you are also torn and feel like you don’t have the resources to carry and raise your baby. It seems like there are no other options but abortion, and you are considering it. You are wondering if there are resources to help you explore your options, and in a greater sense, help you carry and raise your baby.
This is a situation hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women (and men who find out they are fathers), in the United States ask themselves every year. They are facing an unexpected pregnancy, and for one or more reasons (their age, their income, lack of paternal or family support, the attitudes of people around them), it’s understandably a difficult and overwhelming circumstance.
According to Guttmacher Insititute, 73% of women seek abortion due to financial instability and economic hardship. Very often, women don’t want to end their pregnancies, but they have a hard time seeing any alternatives to abortion. And that’s where pregnancy resource centers come in.
Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) is a term that is often tossed around in the pro-life movement and the debate around abortion. Yet, the general public and many women facing unplanned pregnancies, do not know what PRCs are and what they have to offer.
PRCs are local, non-profit organizations devoted to offering free emotional and financial support to women (and sometimes men) faced with difficult pregnancy decisions. They create safe, loving, caring, and compassionate environments to give women (and men) the education they need to make informed choices. PRCs provide a range of services to support parents throughout their pregnancy and beyond.
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington D.C. is one of these PRCs. Members of DLFA visited Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center on Thursday, January 20, the day before the annual March for Life. Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center provides assistance to parents until 4 years old! Click here to view photos of the visit!
Here are some of the centers’ services, which are free and confidential:
- pregnancy testing
- counseling and mentoring, including post-abortive support
- childbirth and parenting classes, including a fatherhood initiative program
- maternity and baby clothing and supplies
- medical, legal, adoption, and housing referrals
PRCs are numerous and widespread. Many are affiliated with networks such as Heartbeat International or Care Net, while others are independent or part of smaller networks. OptionLine is a great tool to look up local PRCs in a specific area or zip code!
Some PRCs are strictly resource centers – providing education, information, and non-medical services. Many others, however, are also medical clinics to varying degrees – having a professional staff that include doctors, nurses, OBGYNs, ultrasound technicians, etc. At any PRC, you can count on receiving emotional support through counseling and peer groups, as well as referrals to medical care and other material aid. It is also common for PRCs to provide free ultrasounds.
PRCs usually have connections and referrals to additional resources and social programs:
- Women and Infant Children (WIC)
- hospitals and health services like Medicaid
- Section 8 and other affordable housing
- maternity homes
- daycare and childcare vouchers
- diaper banks
- adoption agencies
A common misconception that people have about PRCs is that staff members force or deceive women into having and keeping their babies. While there are PRCs who do not give referrals to abortion, these organizations state and disclose that clearly. PRCs who do not give referrals to abortion do give explanations of what abortion is and the usual procedures.
Pregnancy and abortion are sensitive topics, and the staff members at PRCs are trained to present information in an accurate way that is not morbid or scary. PRCs encourage women to take their time and to wait to avoid jumping into a hasty decision. They want women (and men) to know that there is real support and real resources for them and their child. Abortion is a decision that cannot be undone, and PRCs tell women (and men) of the support and resources available should they choose to raise their baby or work through an adoption plan.
It’s important for women to see the development of their baby through ultrasound screenings. It’s equally important for women to know about the abortion pills and the abortion pill reversal – that if the first pill is taken, there is help if they change their minds. This critical information is typically left out (sometimes intentionally) at abortion clinics.
Further, many PRCs also offer support for women (and men) who’ve experienced and are experiencing trauma and grief related to abortion. Providing a setting where women (and men) can talk through their experience and guide them in finding physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual (if applicable) healing.
Another concern that people have is that PRCs don’t give women the support and resources they actually need to raise children throughout their life – that there is very little assistance after birth or a few months/years postpartum. If you have that concern, I hear you. PRCs are non-profit organizations who solely rely on monetary donations, as well as actual items like clothing, diapers, cribs, car seats, strollers, etc. to be distributed. Unlike Planned Parenthood, PRCs do not receive government funding.
In an annual report for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood said that its affiliates around the country received more than $616.8 million in federal funding. So, let me ask you this: What if that money instead went to PRCs and social programs to help parents carry and raise their children?
And in 2019, PRCs provided free services, which included:
- almost 732,000 pregnancy tests
- more than 486,000 ultrasounds
- approximately 160,200 STI/STD tests
- parenting and prenatal education programs for more than 291,000 clients
- after-abortion support for more than 21,000 clients
- sexual risk avoidadance education presentations for more than 881,000 students
- nearly 1.3 million packs of diapers
- more than two million baby outfits
(Statistics taken from a LiveAction article)
Think of the impact that government funding for PRCs and social programs can have. The numbers above could be doubled and tripled with an amount like $500 million.
Women deserve REAL choice and REAL support during and after pregnancy, and PRCs can and have offered REAL choice and REAL support.
And if Roe is overturned, there will still be women (and men) who experience unplanned pregnancies and need resources to carry and/or raise their children. PRCs will depend on funding to address this.
*Jess Meeth is a former Pregnancy Counselor at Let Them Live, a non-profit organization that provides emotional and financial support to women in crisis pregnancies. Through her position, Jess directly worked with women both during and after their pregnancies. She also networked with PRCs throughout the country to maximize the support and resources for women and their babies.