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Using the Church Bulletin to Save Lives

Abortions can be stopped and lives can be saved long before laws are changed. The children scheduled to die tomorrow don't have time for legislators to pass laws to protect them. This is one of the ways in which the pro-life cause reveals itself to be much more than a "political" issue. It is an emergency to which the People of God need to respond here and now, to save the lives of the most defenseless among us. It is a concrete demand of charity.

There is a simple way we can activate our parishes to respond: Spread the phone numbers at which people can find alternatives to abortion.

And one of the most effective ways to spread them is not only to put them in the bulletin but to put them on the bulletin, in other words, right there on the front cover along with the other standard phone numbers that we always want to make known to our people. After all, the need for abortion alternatives is not seasonal or occasional, and, as a matter of life and death, certainly has priority importance over other numbers.

The irony of the rhetoric "freedom of choice" is that women get abortions precisely because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. So many post-abortive women complain that nobody told them about alternatives. A simple phone number on the bulletin can change all that.

Now which numbers do we use? Certainly, local numbers through which people can contact resources in the diocese or community are always valuable.

As a national movement, Priests for Life also makes known the following national hotline numbers that can connect people to help in any part of the country. More information about each of these hotlines is summarized below, and you may wish to call the number yourself to ask further questions.

Care Net/Heartbeat 800-712-HELP

Crisis Pregnancy Hotline 888-4-OPTIONS

Birthright 800-550-4900

National Life Center Pregnancy Hotline 800-848-LOVE

Bethany Christians Services 800-238-4269

America’s Crisis Pregnancy Helpline 800-67-BABY-6

Nurturing Network 800-TNN-4MOM

Good Counsel Homes 800-723-8331

Several Sources Foundation 800-NO-ABORT

www.pregnancycenters.org - Online help offered by Women and Children First

The idea of placing such numbers on the cover of the parish bulletin has met with wide acceptance among the clergy. A professional Wirthlin poll commissioned by Priests for Life found most priests likely to implement this project.

Following are our responses to the most frequently raised concerns:

1. I want to keep the bulletin simple.

This idea only takes a few words to implement. See the sample wording below. Concern about the layout of the bulletin is valid, but certainly subordinate to the actual service we provide the community, especially when that service saves lives.

2. If I put a pregnancy assistance number on the bulletin, many other groups will want their numbers there as well.

We face this problem all the time, but as pastors, we make decisions based on the most urgent needs. It is certainly praiseworthy to place other types of hotline numbers on the bulletin as well; we do not suggest that this should be the only one. At the same time, the bishops have identified abortion as the most urgent moral problem of our day, and nothing else claims more victims.

3. I need to know more about whom people are calling when they dial these numbers.

A brief description of the organization represented by each number is given below, and you are encouraged to call each of them to ask as many questions as you like. Moreover, you may prefer a local number of a community or diocesan resource.

4. My community is rather elderly, and therefore this would not be a concern of theirs.

The people of your parish may be too old to have a child, but they are never too old to save one. They can certainly spread the information to their grandchildren, and others, that help is available for those in crisis.

5. People don't read the bulletin.

At least some people do, and it is better that those who do have this life-saving information than if they do not have it.

6. People may not be attracted to a "national" hotline.

A local number can be used. Furthermore, most of these national numbers will refer the individual to the helping centers nearest to them.

 

The notice on the bulletin can take, for example, one of the following forms:

There are alternatives to abortion. Call 1-800-848-LOVE

Pregnant and in need? Call 1-800-848-LOVE

Pregnancy assistance services (nationwide): 1-800-848-LOVE

 

Following are short descriptions of the services represented by the nationally accessible phone numbers we recommend.

America's Crisis Pregnancy Helpline (800-67-BABY-6)

America's Crisis Pregnancy Helpline is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers women and families experiencing unplanned - and often crisis - pregnancies by providing counseling, education, and referrals to life affirming organization. ACPH is not an affiliation organization, but rather works with agencies that are affiliates of Heartbeat International, CareNet, Catholic Charities, Birthright, NIFLA, Focus on the Family, and independent agencies. ACPH maintains a national database of pregnancy centers, Catholic Charities, maternity homes, Pro-Life Ob/Gyns, post-abortion specialists including over 100 Project Rachels, adoption professionals, and other life-affirming organizations.

ACPH is accessed 24 hours a day from all 50 states, Canada, and San Juan via our three toll-free hotlines (800 672-2296; 888-4-OPTIONS; and 888-80-WOMAN). ACPH uses paid staff degreed in psychology, social work, or a counseling related field. Staff focuses on connecting clients with life-affirming resources within their geographical area. Staff is prepared to provide counseling and education to callers when centers or services are not available.

For more information, or for a free media kit, please feel free to contact ACPH 2121 Valley View, Dallas, TX 75234.

 

Bethany Christian Services (Hotline 800-238-4269, 800-BETHANY)

The hotline, 1-800-BETHANY, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bethany Christian Services provides a full range of services including crisis pregnancy counseling, adoption, foster care, infertility ministry, and post-adoption support services, family counseling, and opportunities for volunteers. We are a pro-life organization and do not make referrals to abortion providers.

For more details, you may contact Betty Gritt, Hotline Coordinator, at 1-800-BETHANY or 616-224-7457.

 

Birthright (800-550-4900)

Founded in 1969 by the late Louise Summerhill in Toronto, Canada, Birthright is a volunteer emergency pregnancy service offering an alternative to abortion. Operating independently, Birthright is not affiliated with any group or organization. It is an interdenominational, non profit service organization.

There are approximately 400 offices in the USA and another 60 in Canada. The National Office of Birthright operates out of Atlanta, Georgia and was the first Birthright in the USA. Office hours vary in centers; however, there is a 24 hour, 7day a week, toll free 800 number that takes calls across both countries. Our computer programs have an additional 3-5000 other Pro-Life resources when a Birthright is not available. In addition, each state or province has a Regional Consultant that will search until needs of the caller are met. The toll free line has received calls from all 50 states and many other countries.

Birthright makes every effort to provide whatever need the client has to continue pregnancy rather than abort. Needs vary and centers vary in resources. However, each office is mandated to work with the client until the needs are met. Birthright services do not include referral for abortion services, contraception referrals or political activities.

For more information, contact Terry Weaver at: (770) 451-6336 or Fax: (770) 455-3913. Check our Web Site www.birthright.org

 

Care Net/Heartbeat (800-712-HELP)

This 24-hour call center is owned and operated jointly by Care Net and Heartbeat International.  Each caller will be referred to a pregnancy resource center in her area for answers to questions about abortion, pregnancy tests, STD's, adoption, parenting, medical referrals, housing, and many other issues. The toll-free number is available to callers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Callers from across the country will reach a trained, caring person and then be connected to a pregnancy resource center near them for one-on-one help.

For more information on Care Net, please call 703-478-5661.  For more information on Heartbeat International, please call (614) 885-7577.

 

Good Counsel Homes (800-723-8331)

Good Counsel provides homes, outreach, counseling, referrals for any pregnant woman anywhere in the U.S.. Our 24-hour helpline is answered by trained staff who last year helped nearly 3,000 women who were in crisis. Good Counsel began in 1985 as a long-term home in Hoboken, N.J. Other homes in New York City, New York State; Connecticut and New Jersey housed more than 300 women and children during 1999; including pregnant women with mental illness or mental illness and addiction problems. Please call 800.723.8331 for any women in a crisis pregnancy or to help Good Counsel continue its life-saving mission.

You may also contact Fr. Benedict Groeschel or Christopher Bell, co-founders of Good Counsel at: Good Counsel 303 Madison Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, call 201.795.0637 or email Mr. Bell at cxbell@aol.com

 

National Life Center (Pregnancy hotline 800-848-LOVE)

National Life Center is the parent organization for its affiliates 1stWay Life Centers. Our purpose and mission is to reach women and girls before they make the final decision of life or death for their preborn babies. Our goal is to ensure that they deliver healthy babies and they complete their pregnancies in good health with peace of mind and dignity.

Our national hotline is available continually and staffed personally. Our number can be reached from all 50 states and the territories of the United States. We maintain contact numbers of local directors for emergency calls. For further information about our hotline, call our office at 856-848-1819 from 9 to 6 and speak with Denise Cocciolone or Joan O'Malley.

 

The Nurturing Network (Hotline 800-TNN-4-MOM)

The Nurturing Network is an international, charitable organization that has activated over 32,000 volunteer member resources to provide for the urgent and practical needs of more than 14,500 women faced with the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy.

To offer or receive help, please call 1-800-TNN-4MOM.

 

Several Sources Foundation (800-NO-ABORT)

Our 1-800-NO-ABORT National hotline is staffed with counselors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Several Sources Foundation operates four shelters in NJ where pregnant women can stay free of charge up to one year after their child is born. We are a Catholic apostolate which began in 1981. Callers to our hotline received free of charge a hotline kit with many pro-life items including a copy of the video The Silent Scream.

To receive more information about Several Sources Foundation, clergy and staff may call 1-201-818-9033.

 

Online help also available - www.pregnancycenters.org

The internet is a key means of communication for many who may be likely to need pregnancy assistance centers. One of the key sites is www.pregnancycenters.org  This site maintains a current listing of pregnancy care centers by state, and also international centers. You can also talk to a pregnancy counselor by email. This website is maintained by Women and Children First, an outreach of Steven Ertelt.

 

Conclusion

We invite pastors of all denominations to put a pregnancy assistance number on their bulletin as soon as possible. We invite parishioners to make this option known to their pastors.

Furthermore, these numbers can be posted in the vestibule, distributed in our high schools and colleges, put in parish mailings, and displayed in the local press or cable TV bulletin board.

There is hardly a simpler thing that can be done for the pro-life cause. Let's not put it off until tomorrow!

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org