Pregnancy centers. They’re one of the single greatest weapons against abortion, using information and truth to enlighten frightened women to a choice not often brought up at abortion clinics: keeping the baby.
Late last month, Virginia Davison Madden shared her experiences with CatholicVote on “What Working at a Pregnancy Resource Center is REALLY Like.” While working on her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Madden interned at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in the Northeast area of Washington, D.C.
In her piece, Madden discusses how she has counseled and helped women who are facing unplanned pregnancies. She also expanded further on her experiences while speaking with FaithWire.
Like many other pregnancy centers, the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center is Christian, and does “an excellent job at being ecumenical,” which Madden also says is a good testament to the Catholic-Evangelical connection.
In explaining the center’s services, which mostly involves families coming to the center to pick up supplies, Madden noted that they do a good job of not preaching. Those who work with women at the center can offer prayer and discussion about God on issues such as abortion and parenting, but it is not a requirement to have such a discussion in order to receive help.
Discussion of abstinence as the only guaranteed, 100 percent way to ensure unplanned pregnancies do occur, as well as the emotional and physical consequences of pre-marital sex all frequently take place. They are done so in a helpful and informative way, but with women making decisions for themselves, rather than the pregnancy center telling women what they should do.
Despite the good work that they do, pregnancy centers have been facing legal attacks from pro-choice states and localities, which have tried to restrict their free speech rights by having them advertise for abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court is now getting involved in such a California state law.
Pregnancy centers are not worthy of such attacks, however, as they are not merely a place for women to take a positive or negative pregnancy test.
For medical needs and social services, Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center does offer referrals. Madden spoke of their work with social workers with Bethany Christian services for women who wish to “gift her child for adoption” as well as medical offices offering reduced or free prenatal care services in the area. Madden would also call up for services on behalf of clients, for soup kitchens and food pantries.
But, pregnancy centers still do much more. Common protocol is for the center, with the woman’s permission, to check back a week or two after their visit. Women are invited to come back at a certain point before the baby is born for clothes, diapers, formula and food. Many also take supplies for their older children. There are maternity clothes as well to choose from.
The centers also provide opportunities for counseling. Some come monthly, Madden said, while others check in more often, finally filling what was once a void of healthy relationships in their lives. Even if women had been to the center months or years prior for supplies, Madden explained, she might still call back for emotional support, after recalling a previous positive experience she had with the center.
The discussion a counselor and woman have after taking the pregnancy test involves a focus of “meeting people where they are at,” while still upholding the value of human life. Madden mentioned that this includes the mother’s life as well. The options of parenting and adoption are mentioned, as well as the possibility of a family member having temporary custody, for those who couldn’t bear the thought of giving their child up for adoption.
A counselor would also bring up the subject of abortion to see of the woman would consider that as an option, and if she does then they’ll discuss what that entails. The negative psychological effects of abortion would be discussed, as well as other side effects and information.
In speaking with FaithWire, Madden outlined a concern for the pro-life movement to be aware of and address. Many are pro-choice because they do not believe or understand that an abortion takes the life of a child which is already a human being. Some, however, do understand this reality and still go through with abortion anyway. As Madden explained, “there is self-awareness over the truth,” that abortion takes a human life, but they do so regardless.
Nevertheless, even while there may be areas for the pro-life movement to improve upon, pointing such areas out is not the only benefit and success of pregnancy centers. There is success every day in women who are able to find a place to not only help them in choosing life for their child, but in having somewhere to call a place of help and support throughout that pregnancy and even after the child is born.