By Hannah Miracle
Twelve Years ago, I was the receptionist at a dentist office. This wasn’t your typical office that did cleanings and fillings, but an office that made and repaired dentures. One day, after yet another set of 50-year-old dentures in need of replacement had been placed on the counter that was eye-level from where I sat, I had the thought, “Lord, there’s got to be more to advancing your kingdom than this!” That thought sent me in search of a local organization where I could volunteer.
At that time, I knew pregnancy centers existed to help women facing unplanned pregnancies, but I really had no idea what they did. I thought it would be great to volunteer at one, but had no idea there was one literally three minutes from my house. As I talk with people in our community today, I realize so many of them are in exactly the same place I was in 2010. They want to support women and families in their community, but they are completely unaware of what is out there, and what their local organizations do.
Well, today, I want to make sure each of you leave here understanding what pregnancy centers do, who we help, why PCs are important, how we’re being affected by the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and what you can do to help.
What Do Pregnancy Centers Do?
There are over 3,000 pregnancy centers nationwide, and around 100 in Michigan alone. Pregnancy centers out-number abortion clinics more than 3 to 1 in the United States. Each center offers similar services, but each one operates differently from the others. But what exactly is it that pregnancy centers do?
Almost all pregnancy centers offer pregnancy testing and talk with women about their options.
Many centers offer ultrasounds, which allows mommas and daddies to see their little one, hear the tiny beating heart (let me tell you, that volume gets turned up really loud when we play it), and this helps parents realize there is a human life growing.
Many centers then offer parenting classes along with material assistance. At Center for Women we allow parents to join our program from the time mom is pregnant until the child turns four years old, at which point the local schools help with clothing and other needs.
As parents participate in classes, they earn credits to spend in our store, where they can purchase diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, infant and children’s clothing, maternity clothes, toys, books, blankets, and much more.
These classes are tailored to where the client is in their pregnancy or parenting journey, and cover topics such as prenatal care, labor and delivery, infant care, first aid, practical topics such as potty training and effective discipline techniques. Lessons also cover practical life skills such as finances, grocery planning, job searching, renting an apartment, and more. We also offer a simple bible study as a way for clients to earn extra credit, and some of those who accept are hearing about Jesus Christ for the very first time.
Our goal is to come alongside families in our community and help these women and men become the parent their child deserves. Through these parenting programs, relationships are established between clients and volunteers and we’ve seen whole families turned around. When a woman or family needs services we don’t provide we’re able to put them in touch with another local organization who can better meet those needs.
Who Do We Help?
Pregnancy centers exist to reach the woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who is either seeking an abortion or does not know what she will do. Yes, we certainly help women who are excited to be pregnant, but the goal of every pregnancy center is to reduce the number of abortions taking place in their area.
To help paint a picture of the kinds of women we serve, let me share a couple of stories with you.
You see, I grew up in a loving, Christian home, and always believed abortion was wrong. I didn’t understand how or why a woman could choose to have an abortion…until…I sat across from a young woman, tears streaming down her cheeks, who was the single mother of a young child, couldn’t afford another child but was now pregnant with her second—the father of which was a married man who was not going to leave his wife, wasn’t willing to support the child he had fathered, but was going to pay for the abortion— she was raised in the foster care system and therefore wouldn’t consider making an adoption plan. It was clear this woman did not want an abortion, but felt trapped by her circumstances and believed she had no other option.
Folks, you cannot sit across from women like this and NOT have a much better understanding and compassion for what they’re going through.
We’ve also heard just about every other imaginable scenario from women who have come to us. I always think of the woman who had no idea who the father of her child was because her husband had pimped her out to pay for his drug habit.
Or I think of the women who told us her boyfriend had gotten her and another woman pregnant at the same time, claimed he would stay with her, but wanted both women to have abortions. We’ve heard stories from women who became sexually active by their choice at age 12 or 13, because they’d been sexually abused or raped as children. To every woman who comes to us, we can speak truth into her life and let her know just how valuable she is.
Why Are Pregnancy Centers Important?
Without pregnancy centers women would have no place to go other than places like Planned Parenthood where they will be sold an abortion. Pregnancy centers offer hope, life, and healing these women may not find many other places. Jackson County specifically, has one of the highest abortion rates in the state of Michigan. In 2019 and 2020 we had the 7th highest rate, and in 2021 we dropped down to 11th…out of 83 counties.
What can you do to support pregnancy centers
First, find your local center. What center is closest to you. There are centers in Adrian, Ypsi, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Hillsdale, Coldwater, Kalamazoo, and just about anywhere else in the state (again, there are around 100 pregnancy centers in Michigan)
Then take a tour. There is no better way to understand exactly what a center does than seeing the facility and having the staff explain what they do where they do it.
Support financially (pregnancy centers would NOT exist without the financial support of individuals, churches, local businesses and organizations)
Let me share some specific ways centers need financial support:
Outreach (centers need to be where women are looking: Google, internet, etc. If we aren’t there they’ll find the people who are, and abortion providers have unlimited resources)
Utilities (offering to give monthly to cover the phone bill, internet, or other utility bill would be a HUGE thing!)
Specific goals (hiring new staff, building or renovation projects, etc.)
Special needs (car seats, pack ‘n plays, Bibles, etc.)
Give in-kind gifts
Find out what items their store can use or what resources they frequently need
Satan would be bound and have no influence in clients finding centers
Staff (support for current staff, and onboarding of new staff)
Wisdom in reaching women and effectively meeting needs
Tell people about the center (both donors and clients)
What skills do you have? (cleaning, organizing, people skills, attorney, financial, medical, counselor, etc.)
You all have something that would benefit a pregnancy center, find out how you can put that skill to use
You can volunteer with clients, see if they need board members, or if they have committees you can serve on
These are just a few of the ways you can be involved in serving pregnancy centers.
As I start to wrap up, there are a few things I want to bring to your attention because they are often overlooked elements of the abortion discussion.
First, it is easy to get so caught up in wanting to end abortion that we forget about the women who have had abortions. As I’ve mentioned, most of these women do not want abortions, but feel trapped by their circumstances into believing abortion is their only option.
As many as 1 in 3 women will have had at least one abortion by the time they are 40. Because of this PLEASE be compassionate in the way you address abortion. I have a friend who had an abortion more than 40 years ago. She and her husband regret their choice, have found forgiveness and healing, and now work and volunteer for a pro-life ministry. However, they are constantly met with judgmental comments about “those people who have abortions”. These comments are made by well-meaning pro-life individuals, who want to see abortion ended, but have no idea an abortion is part of this couple’s story.
When you talk about abortion, and we have to, please be conscious of the fact that you very well may be speaking to someone whose past includes an abortion. Be compassionate, show grace, and remember that Jesus showed incredible grace every sinner.
Second, another person who is very often overlooked is the man whose girlfriend or wife has had an abortion. He may (or may not) have been part of the decision, but either way men who have been part of an abortion struggle as well. Some men feel guilt for having encouraged or pressured the woman to have the abortion. Some men experience regret and anger because they didn’t know about the pregnancy until the abortion had taken place, or because they knew and could do nothing to stop it. So, again, when speaking about abortion with men or women, be compassionate.
In the last few weeks since the overturn of Roe I have seen MANY posts on social media either supporting this decision or expressing anger about it. The people I have seen who are upset about this decision are clearly concerned about women’s rights and welfare.
One thing I’ve noticed, is that no matter which side of this issue you may be on, there are a couple things we can all agree on:
We believe that every human should have equal rights
We care about the health and well-being of women
What we think each of these things looks like differs from person to person, but the motivating factors are the same.
We all have (or should have) goals. Jesus did. His entire ministry here on earth was to love people in radical ways. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day didn’t understand what He was doing or why He was doing it, but His motivation was love.
Each of us here today have opinions on many things…and those opinions aren’t all the same. But if, like Jesus, our motivation is love, those difference shouldn’t matter. We can care about each other, respect differences of opinion, and trust we are each doing what God has called us to do.
I want to challenge you, next time you learn that someone has an opinion that is very different than yours—say you’re pro-life and they are pro-choice—take some time to try to understand why they feel the way they do. This is not easy, but the more we try, we begin to realize we’re not as different as we think we are when we’re shouting ugly accusations at each other across Facebook. (Can I just say, social media brings out the worst in humanity?). Try to look past the stereotypes of “the other side” and try to find the ways we’re the same.
I’d like to read something a director of another pregnancy center wrote the day Roe was overturned,
“Being pro-life is just a stance. Being pro-love is an action. We must continue to let our actions show that we intend to support and provide resources for women with unplanned pregnancies.
Now more than ever, women are going to be searching for practical help that shows them they don’t need abortion to survive, succeed, or thrive in life. Now, more than ever before, the pro-life community needs to step up and show these women that we intend to be there for them and support them, no matter what. Women need to know how much THEIR lives are worth and how they have value, before they can value the life of the baby inside their womb. We will lead with love, stand shoulder to shoulder with our pro-life community, and embrace a post-Roe America by showing up for these women in the ways they need us most.”
Friends, as we go from here today and share with people the truth about abortion, can we commit to do so with compassion, and love even those we don’t agree with or understand?
My challenge to you today is: Be Pro-love.
Pro-life is just a stance. Pro-Love is an action.
Hannah Miracle is the Director of the Center for Women’s Health in Jackson. You can support their work by going HERE.