For decades, the public dialogue around abortion has driven people to opposite corners with no chance for nuanced conversations. Political posturing and divisive, theoretical arguments have minimized the real-world effects that unplanned pregnancies have on women and children.
When the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization earlier this year, the constitutional right to abortion was removed, and now states have the power to make and enforce laws around abortion. As a result, churches, nonprofits, and individuals are needed to transition the conversation from the political landscape into real-life application. Now people seem to be asking one simple question: What does it mean to be pro-life?
In the Moment
For many women facing unplanned pregnancies, being pro-life or pro-choice isn’t defined by a single decision. Each story is layered with unique relational, emotional, and socio-economic factors. Countless are uninsured or already struggling to survive financially. Many are supporting family members or other children and would face immense time and resource challenges if they welcomed a baby. Some have health concerns that pose severe medical threats to both mother and child. Each pregnancy carries a myriad of questions and choices, and so much of that decision-making can be clouded with panic, anxiety, and fear.
Valerie Millsapps meets women like this every day. She runs a pregnancy resource center in Tennessee, and her staff provides support for all stages of pregnancy. “Most of the needs we see are from those who are unexpectedly pregnant and unsure about what to do,” says Millsapps. “But whatever road they pick, we are going to be here to love and support them.”
Pregnancy centers like Millsapps’ provide pro-life care that is catered to each woman. These centers offer help finding an obstetrician and navigating insurance. Many of them have support groups, life coaching, and Bible studies. Women who find the centers after having an abortion can receive trauma and grief counseling.
In essence, many of these resource centers are modeling what pro-life advocates need to embrace: empathy, education, and true women’s healthcare.
This woman-first approach requires that pregnant women are treated with understanding and compassion instead of condemnation. It also means that women have access to objective, scientific information in order to understand the reality of pregnancy and abortion and to ensure they are making informed choices. In a moment that feels like a crisis, having fact-based tools for decision-making can allay some of the fears a woman might have and allow her to consider the bigger picture.
Pregnancy and Beyond
But a woman’s needs don’t evaporate after she’s decided to keep a pregnancy. In fact, she now requires more tools and resources than ever before. This is where advocates have another opportunity to advance the conversation around comprehensive pro-life care.
Beyond material resources, do these women have access to mental health services to handle the weight of months of gestation, health complications, and the consequences on her work and family life? What community support do they need if they raise a child alone or with an unsupportive partner? What are the greatest challenges they will face, and how can the pro-life movement rise to meet these needs?
Effective work at this stage must center women, offering practical, logistical support that’s coupled with holistic care. This may look like creating a database of free counseling resources, launching a weekly text ministry from a church that checks in on the mom and baby, providing childcare services at a reduced rate, or offering free financial counseling.
Supporting women who have chosen life is more complicated than simply passing legislation. It’s the ultimate litmus test for whether the pro-life community is embracing a consistent ethic that goes beyond rhetoric. Many people genuinely care about women and babies, and these intentional steps can prevent that care from getting lost in the cacophony of court decisions.
Work That Makes a Difference
Pro-life advocates and organizations must prioritize this holistic care for women in order for abortion rates to decline and one day be unthinkable.
As a thought leader in the world of women’s health and pregnancy care, Save the Storks models these values by empowering women to make informed choices and by supporting the work of local pregnancy resource centers. Their care begins with mobilizing Stork Buses to provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STI testing in a state-of-the-art mobile medical clinic—all at no cost as the services are completely donor funded.
Save the Storks has 83 Stork Buses in 30 states across the country, and reports over 3,000 positive pregnancy tests a year. For those who receive a positive test, 4 out of 5 choose to carry their baby to term because of the resources and support offered in these mobile clinics. Women who choose adoption have access to prenatal care and a network of trustworthy adoption agencies.
“I believe so strongly in supporting women facing an unplanned pregnancy,” says Julz Savard, communications manager for Save the Storks. “As a mom who faced a pregnancy that was absolutely expected, I was still scared and vulnerable. Imagine the woman who has no idea what this means for her. We need to be there for her.”
With a goal of having 100 Stork Buses on the road before the end of the year, Save the Storks is taking tangible steps toward creating a culture that respects and values every life, paving the way with pregnancy care and pro-life advocacy. For information about how you can receive or support holistic pregnancy care, visit Save the Storks.