An unfortunate reality of the modern perception of Christians is that we are often identified with what we oppose rather than what we support. This view exists on the individual and societal levels, permeating both our interpersonal and organizational communication. One organization that has been poorly stereotyped by this negativity is the pregnancy resource center.
With Sanctity of Life Sunday having just occurred in January, the value of human life ought to be all the more prevalent in our minds. It is a recurring theme in our theology, yet it can at times feel a bit abstract. It is difficult to put a finger on what action steps should be taken in light of such a doctrine.
Because of this, I submit a suggestion that may or may not be new to you: Support your local pregnancy resource center. If you have heard this before, you likely have, at best, only a fuzzy understanding of what these organizations actually do. At worst, you have a negative perception of them. As someone who has volunteered at centers like these for the past three years, here are some things I wish I knew before going in:
1. Pregnancy resource centers are pro-woman.
A common misconception about these organizations is that their sole concern is with unborn children, and that little-to no positive attention is given to mothers. Often accompanying this myth are horrifying rumors. Some have accused pregnancy resource centers of using deceptive and/or guilt-driven tactics in order to manipulate women into compliance with the ethics of the organization. I am proud to say that this is categorically false.
In reality, young adult females are the core clientele of these centers. From their first nervous phone calls to their final appointments, they are treated with the utmost respect, sensitivity and kindness. This remains the case regardless of their race, background or even what choice they make in their pregnancies.
A majority of the services provided at these facilities benefit women directly. They administer pregnancy tests, perform ultrasounds and offer information on all pregnancy options. Women are able to receive personal mentoring throughout their pregnancies and for some time after. Counseling is even offered for women who are struggling emotionally post-abortion. Significantly, all of these services are free and confidential.
2. Pregnancy resource centers are pro-family.
In pursuit of the provision of holistic care, pregnancy resource centers are committed to meeting the needs of families. Resources such as baby clothes, diapers and wipes are provided for clients as they are needed. Male mentors are available to meet regularly with soon-to-be father figures. Some of the larger centers even offer a variety of classes for new parents on subjects including, but not limited to, labor, nutrition and finances.
In the unavoidable cases where the center is unable to meet particular needs of a client, pregnancy resource centers are active in giving community referrals. They serve to connect clients with local aid organizations like Salvation Army, domestic violence shelters and food pantries. For those families or young mothers who are seeking information on adoption, referrals can be provided to nearby agencies.
3. Pregnancy resource centers are pro-life.
Being pro-life means so much more than being anti-abortion. This is well understood in pregnancy resource centers. They openly and honestly refuse to refer for or provide abortions, but they do not stop there. Women who have had abortions are cared for with the same compassion as those who choose life.
In addition to striving to meet the physical and emotional needs of clients, pregnancy resource centers seek to meet their spiritual needs. These centers are openly Christian, with staff and volunteers frequently sharing their faith through relationships with clients. These organizations are committed to the lives of all the men, women and children who come through their doors.
Thankfully, pregnancy resource centers are for the flourishing of life in many ways. Practicing a belief in the value of human dignity in our own lives ought to include supporting organizations like these. Volunteer. Pray. Donate. Advocate. They need the partnership of the church in many ways. You can visit Care Net or Heartbeat International today to find your nearest pregnancy resource center and begin advocating for life.