On May 14, the Alabama state senate passed a bill that would ban abortion at all stages, with the only exception being if the life of the mother was at risk. On May 15, Gov. Kay Ivey signed that bill into law and, in that moment, affirmed that the state would be standing up for the pro-life ethic that a majority of Alabamians hold strongly.
Unfortunately, the victories for the most vulnerable have not been celebrated by all. Many pro-abortion leaders and activists have taken to social media to attack this pro-life legislation. One notable moment came in a viral tweet that asked the question, “Dear pro-life friends, what have you personally done to support lower income single mothers?” While this tweet asks a question, what it really does is attempt to make a statement: The pro-life movement is a fraud. As I write this, the responses coming in have been overwhelming. Thousands of replies later, it became clear that many people are working to support mothers who need assistance.
Welcoming mothers in crisis
One of the most remarkable ways is through pregnancy resource centers. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Sandi Horsley, the executive director of Sav-A-Life Tuscaloosa, and heard how her pregnancy resource center is doing pro-life work at each stage of life—from conception until well after a child is born. Her center, which is supported by many organizations and churches in Tuscaloosa, is located next door to the busiest abortion clinic in the state and serves women from a wide background. The clinic is only one mile off of the campus of the University of Alabama—the largest university in the state.
During my visit to the center, Sandi gave me a tour to show me exactly what happens when someone arrives. I was amazed by the way they love and serve mothers, fathers, and babies. They pay attention to every detail from the very first moment.
“Our process from the minute a woman walks in our door is to listen. We want her to know we want to hear about her whole story and her whole life,” Horsley told me.
“We know that the crisis in her life right now is an unplanned and possibly unwanted pregnancy,” she explained. “We encourage her to allow us to do a pregnancy test and ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy is viable before we discuss any options or plans. We want to assure her that we will support her emotionally and in tangible ways if she chooses life for her baby.”
Caring for mothers and babies beyond birth
Sav-A-Life Tuscaloosa has a separate facility next door that is called the Family Education Center. This facility is an incredible resource for these new mothers where they can participate in a program called “Earn While You Learn.” By participating in this program, the moms are able to get the resources, many of which are donated by local churches, they need to raise their baby.
“We walk her, and whoever came with her, to our Family Education Center to show her that most everything she could ever need is available to her for going through our parenting programs,” Horsley said. “It’s often there that we hear one of them say, ‘We can do this’.”
The program consists of a variety of topics, all of which are aimed at helping the mom and the dad learn skills that will prepare them for parenting. These topics include things like car seat and sleep safety, first aid, tantrums, and setting limits. There are also topics to help the overall family including “Filling the Hole” (emotional needs), positive parenting, discipline with love, and the power of words—all of which teach parents a better way to protect and raise their children.
Upon the completion of each of these classes, the parents earn points that can be redeemed for the supplies they need. They are also given the opportunity to learn life skills such as budgeting and job searching, along with Bible discipleship to strengthen personal growth.
Horsley went on to describe the aim of this program,
“Our goal is to be there for the family to help them become loving parents and prepare their children to succeed in life. Those enrolled in our program receive most everything they could need for their infant up two years and beyond, if needed.”
Empowering moms to choose life
I asked Horsley if her center was an anomaly in how it supports these women in Alabama. I was not surprised that her answer was no. She immediately started listing off names from all over the state that were doing work just like her center is—from Huntsville to Jasper to Birmingham to Auburn. From corner to corner of the state, large and small centers are stepping up to help women and men prepare to be parents and supporting them throughout the journey.
Sandi has an important message for each of us as we celebrate these significant pro-life wins.
“I often speak to churches and organizations to ask for their support,” she told me. “They consider themselves pro-life, and I ask them to take that step further to provide life—to prove they believe in what they are shouting. It is one thing for ask these moms to choose life and quite another to say we want to stand behind you for making this choice. As one friend of mine put it, [we need to] be a part of ‘empowering moms to choose life’.”
She is right. To prove that we are truly pro-life, we must be consistent, and we must have an answer to questions like the one asked in that viral tweet. In Alabama, there are resources available to mothers and families to provide for children, regardless of their circumstances.
So as we celebrate—and we should celebrate—let’s remember that this isn’t the end; it’s only the beginning, and it’s time to support moms and dads with unplanned pregnancies.