Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
One of the most encouraging facts about the pro-life effort in our country is that there are far more pregnancy resource centers (over 2300) than there are abortion mills (about 740).
The centers used to be called “crisis pregnancy centers” and were often advertised with the promise of “free pregnancy tests.” Now, the more common term is “pregnancy resource centers” (PRCs), and the range of services provided goes far beyond pregnancy testing, and includes the services of fully licensed medical clinics.
Moreover, these centers do not just operate on their own with the support of their local communities. Rather, there are large well-organized networks of pregnancy centers, united by a commitment to professional standards of care, expert training programs, and joint efforts to make sure everyone knows exactly where to turn for alternatives to abortion.
All this is good news for the pro-life movement, and to help spread that good news, a report was recently compiled by several of the leading pregnancy resource networks and organizations that foster them. Called “A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life,” this pregnancy center report for 2009 was prepared by Heartbeat International, Care Net, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, LIFE International, and the Family Research Council. The corresponding website is www.apassiontoserve.com.
As the report states, “PRCs serve some 1.9 million people each year with pregnancy assistance, abstinence counseling and education, community outreach programs and referrals, and public health linkages….Every day in the United States pregnancy resource centers assist an average of 5,500 Americans, female and male, young and old, with sexuality-and-pregnancy-related concerns.”
Twenty-nine of every 30 people engaged in pregnancy center work are volunteers, involved with lay and peer counseling, medical services (including ultrasound and STD testing), center upkeep, fundraising, parenting classes, and programs for healing after abortion.
The pregnancy center networks Heartbeat and Care Net operate the “Option Line,” a telephone hotline by which the caller is connected with the center closest to where he/she lives. At Priests for Life, we promote this hotline, 1-800-712-HELP, and its corresponding website, optionline.org, in all our public outreach.
Even the secular world is recognizing the impact of this movement. In January 2008, on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, Nancy Gibbs of Time magazine cited the “evidence that the quiet campaign for women’s hearts and minds, conducted in thousands of crisis pregnancy centers around the country, on billboards, phone banks and websites, is having an effect” in reducing abortion rates, which are down by one third from their U.S. high.
And on September 19, 2008, the White House honored the selfless volunteers who work in the pregnancy centers. Dr. Joxel Garcia, who was the Assistant Secretary of Health, bestowed awards in the name of the President on over 150 volunteers and 56 pregnancy center organizations.
We should honor them too, and the best way we can do that is to make sure that everyone knows about their services. Let’s spread the word vigorously!