Written by: Olivia Carr
When those who support legalized abortion discuss their rationale for believing so, they often bring up scenarios of women and young girls who have faced unplanned pregnancies, stating that abortion is the most compassionate way to offer these individuals support during such a stressful time. These proponents of abortion appeal to the hearts of their listeners, highlighting the fear, insecurity, and sometimes trauma that women who are unexpectantlypregnant face, and the need for compassion in the care these women receive.
While these pro-choice advocates are correct in identifying the crisis that often underlies unplanned pregnancies and the need for compassionate resources for women in crisis, the mainstream pro-choice women’s health centers offered to women in crisis pregnancy situations can hardly be considered truly compassionate.
For example, Planned Parenthood is widely known for offering low-cost services and abortions in a confidential manner, so it is not a wonder that many women facing crisis pregnancies turn to their local Planned Parenthood clinics when seeking help in a desperate time. However, these centers lack several essential elements that are needed in situations of unwanted pregnancies. Thankfully, there is a more holistic and compassionate alternative resource for women facing crisis pregnancies: pregnancy resource centers.
What is a pregnancy resource center
Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are nonprofit centers and clinics around the world that provide compassionate care to women in crisis pregnancy situations. They offer free and low-cost services such as pregnancy tests, professional counseling, information about different pregnancy options, ultrasounds or ultrasound referrals, STI testing or referrals, material resources, financial assistance, and other support. They also can refer clients to other locations to receive free medical services. PRCs do not profit or gain from a client’s decision regarding her pregnancy, so there is not pressure or coercion involved in a consultation whatsoever.
Why they are needed
PRCs are independently operated and aim at providing women with support, encouragement, options, and resources in their time of crisis. While they do not offer abortions or emergency contraceptives, they do provide honest information about these options as well as life-affirming pregnancy options too.
These centers also recognize the range of emotions that can come with an unwanted or unsupported pregnancy and offer listening ears and support by way of professional counseling, support groups, and mentors. PRCs differ from Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice centers in that they do not push abortions or paint them as the path to healing or a solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Rather, PRCs are a voice of hope and encouragement that a client may lack in her personal life. The PRCs offer tangible support andaffirm to each client that she is not alone, she is strong enough to go through with her pregnancy, and there is support here for her to rely on—no matter what decision she makes.
PRCs live out the message that a woman does not have to choose between her own life or her child’s; her hopes and dreams or her baby. In short, PRCs affirm the strength of women and further empower them by providing the necessary support they may need physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
How PRCs Go Beyond Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice centers
Unlike Planned Parenthood, which is focused on pushing abortions as a ‘quick fix’ to unwanted pregnancies, PRCs help address all the needs involved in an unplanned pregnancy by providing counseling, material resources, financial assistance, and other resources. PRCs recognize that regardless of the choice a mother makes regarding her pregnancy, an expecting mother needs emotional support to cope with everything she may be feeling and thinking.
An abortion consultation or appointment with a pro-choice center does not address these complex emotional realities, and so blatantly ignores an integral aspect of care for a woman in crisis. To ignore the trauma, loss, or grief that may be associated with an unplanned pregnancy and only focus on the termination of the pregnancy is to fall utterly short of what holistic care should be.
Though Planned Parenthood offers abortions, they do not offer abortion support groups for women who have had abortions and need a safe place to process their feelings. Whereas, many PRCs provide or refer clients to these sorts of support groups, even though the PRCs do not provide abortionsthemselves. As such, PRCs offer care that is truly holistic for every client who walks through their doors.
Additionally, PRCs educate their clients on the array of options they have for their pregnancies and providetransparent, honest information about the consequences of each. This transparency not only affirms the freedom of each client, but it also sets a tone of peace at the center because the PRCs do not coerce or force anyone into choosing life; they simply present the option and provide the encouragement and material support to be able to choose life.
However, many women who have had abortions express later that they turned to abortion because they felt it was theironly option. Organizations that are self-professed to be pro-choice ironically do not actually support women who make life-affirming choices for their pregnancies. They are not ready to connect women with options for affordable prenatal care, resources that will enable women to remain at school or work while pregnant or after pregnancy, or simply just people to rely on while journeying through pregnancy.
In reality, the ‘choice’ aspect of pro-choice organizations is not a choice from among several pregnancy options, but rather a choice between two lives: the life of a mother and the life of her child. However, this is a false dichotomy—a choice that does not have to be made. Pro-choice centers tell a woman you have to choose, but PRCs say you can choose both.
PRCs truly empower women by providing them with the support they need to be able to care for themselves and their unborn children, such that there is not a choice to be made between affirming their own well being and that of their children. When pro-choice organizations say abortion is the only way, PRCs say you can do this and we will walk with you through it. Talk about compassion and empowerment.
How Options United bridges the gap
While PRCs are an incredible resource to pregnant women who need any type of support, they are not that well-knownbeyond pro-life circles. That’s where Options United comes in. Options United is designed with abortion-minded women in mind, and offers them truly compassionate resources and care. When a client researches resources for unplanned pregnancies, abortions, or even contraceptives, she is likely to find the Options United call center number, through which a live responder will provide a listening ear and connection to a location-specific PRC.
Though the call responders clarify to clients that abortions and contraceptives are not provided by the PRCs, countless women who call the Options United call line go to appointments at these life-affirming centers. These connections to PRCs by Options United have enabled women to choose life for themselves and their children. Options United is truly a life-saving liaison between expectant women and PRCs, providing women with the freedom and support to be able to choose life.
Please consider donating to Options United to further the life-saving work of helping mothers choose life!