As tens of thousands of Americans march in Washington today on the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion, among their ranks will be many women and men who have been helped by or volunteered in one of the nation’s 2,300 pregnancy resource centers. Some of the marchers will be both: women or children whom the centers have aided, and who now lead or volunteer for the centers as they assist others.
Through a project called Babies Go to Congress founded by Heartbeat International, one of the three major pregnancy center network umbrella groups (the other two are Care Net and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates), former clients bring their toddlers and infants with them to Washington to underscore what the centers have done for them in terms of practical assistance, counseling services, parenting education and community networking.
In a report issued in October 2009 called “A Passion to Serve: A Vision for Life,” Family Research Council and the center networks amassed data on what these pregnancy support agencies accomplish, operating largely without public funding. They
- Assist an average of 5,500 Americans daily – nearly 2,000,000 yearly – with sexuality- and pregnancy-related concerns;
- Raise an estimated $200 million in donations each year, with more than 90 percent of the total from private, non-governmental sources;
- Provide 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-per-week accessibility to centers via Option Line, a national telephone hotline (1-800-395-HELP) and web site that averages 20,000 contacts per month;
- Provide limited ultrasound services at nearly 700 centers across the United States, using trained nurses and physicians;
- Enjoy the services of more than 40,000 volunteers in appropriate capacities, including fund-raising; and
- Maintain an international network of more than 60 centers in Canada, and another 40-plus countries worldwide from Romania, to Vietnam, to Zambia.
As one woman who was aided by a center – and later became the center’s director – remarked of the help she received to have her daughter Abbey Noel, “I realized that my life was part of God’s plan since the foundation of the earth and that my childhood had prepared me to minister to the unborn, women, and men who are hurting.”