EDITOR'S NOTE: This opinion piece is written by Cindi Boston, vice president Heartbeat International in Columbus, Ohio.
I’ve had just about enough. Enough sarcasm, sharp comments, and untruths to last a lifetime. It seems the pro-abortion movement is grasping at straws as it pretends that a mother wants to abort her baby. This camp has been sacrificing the dignity of women and children to “choice” for far too long. Elected officials such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims, Hollywood stars and producers, and the like are regularly accusing us of misleading pregnant women or “forcing” them to have their babies. Because they’ve had media dominance and partnership, they appear to be winning. But it’s all been quietly changing over time.
Underneath the snarky comments of abortion proponents, there is a quiet but dedicated majority hard at work. There is no fame or fortune for pro-women, pro-life advocates to help those in distress. We stand in the gap. Heartbeat centers help pregnant women in need, so moms don’t have to choose termination of a pregnancy and live with a life of regret.
Heartbeat International pregnancy centers have been a pivot point of refuge for hundreds of communities for more than 40 years. With nearly 1,600 Heartbeat pregnancy centers throughout the U.S., women now have more than one choice. Pregnancy centers not only surround women with a full host of free pregnancy-related services, but we offer services like:
- Long-term life coaching. We do better when we have a positive input and people who listen. Professionals and volunteers make a tremendous impact on the way women view their world and the life goals they strive to accomplish.
- Motherhood classes. Learning opportunities such as nutrition education, biblical parenthood, and everything in between help prepare moms for their role as a mother.
- Fatherhood programming. Some pregnancy centers have a series of daddy classes along with personal growth classes in a Christian setting. All of these prepare expectant dads, from diapering to their vital role as a dad.
- Education. From General Educational Development tests to college prep classes, pregnancy centers provide essential coursework that springboards both pregnant moms and expectant dads to better employment opportunities.
- Practical resources. With maternity supplies, baby clothing and equipment, materials goods such as diapers and wipes, along with personal care items and food supplies, most centers provide basic life resources that make a difference in a woman’s ability to choose life for her baby.
On any given day, women walk into their neighborhood pregnancy help center where they are greeted with a friendly smile by caring staff. They may be homeless or in college; they may have a job or be working on completing a degree. But these pregnant women can’t see the future because the fog of despair and crisis fills their vision. When a prospective mother arrives at a local pregnancy center, she not only gets a free pregnancy test and, if pregnant, a follow-up ultrasound. She also receives services from a caring team (nurses, staff, and volunteers) who will help put shoes on her children’s feet, fill their pantry, help her enroll in college, fix her car, and catch up on utility payments — all the while showing the love of Christ.
When I worked at Pregnancy Care Center in Springfield, Missouri, a woman named April came for her free ultrasound. Little did we know that her frightening story would take a turn because of her visit. Four years later, she visited the center and told us that her child had been scheduled for child sacrifice. She had been in a rural community that had a dark secret of cult activity. She came because she needed a firm delivery date so they could plan the ritual.
Instead, April received hope — hope that she was a valuable child of the King; hope that there was a better way than abortion or child sacrifice; hope that life could be different.
April is an excellent example of what happens through pregnancy centers. Her needs were met. We gave her unconditional love and a host of resources. April not only left the cult, but she chose to parent her baby. She gathered the courage to leave the aberrant group and head in a different direction. She found faith in Christ and married. April became a productive citizen in her community. April’s warm smile and joy prove that pregnancy centers bring truth and peace into dark places.
So, when our adversaries, such as Brian Sims, ask if we have put shoes on children today, the answer is yes. Through the Heartbeat International pregnancy center network, we will cloth children, feed the poor, and bring light to the dark world of unplanned pregnancies. We will do it without asking for anything back, because we do it in the name of Jesus.