HomeHealth Care NewsGrowing Role for Pregnancy Aid Centers

Growing Role for Pregnancy Aid Centers

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision returning abortion jurisdiction to the states is bringing renewed attention to groups that provide medical, material, and emotional support to pregnant women.

Non-profit pregnancy aid organizations go by a variety of names but have similar missions: helping women find options other than abortion.

The SCOTUS ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health returned the power to facilitate, regulate, or ban abortion to the states. As a result, more women facing crisis pregnancies will be looking for help, says Rachel Morrison, J.D., a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“Thankfully, there are already thousands of pregnancy centers across the country ready and willing to help a pregnant woman and her child by offering free resources and support ranging from counseling and education to diapers and baby clothing to referrals for medical and other support services,” said Morrison.

Pregnancy Center Growth

A pregnancy center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was already working to expand its space and services before the Dobbs decision.

Currently, space is so tight at HELP Pregnancy Aid the hallways are lined with baby items and women who come into the building for the first time often cross paths with new moms and their children, says Paula Veneklase, executive director at HELP.

“That abortion-vulnerable woman comes into a space where women are already parenting,” said Veneklase. “They are fearful; they’re confused. It just compounds what they are going through. Every situation is different, so we want to be vigilant that we are respecting them and their confidentiality and right now, our space isn’t conducive to that.”

The center will conduct more pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, exams, and lab work, and provide Natural Procreative Technology for advanced natural family planning. The expansion will also include more space for programming, a “Kid Zone,” storage for the truckloads of donated baby items it receives daily, and designated waiting rooms for medical services and family support.

HELP has raised $2.1 million toward its $3.6 million expansion funding goal.

Drug-Induced Abortions

The landscape of the abortion industry has changed since the 1973 SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade struck down restrictions on abortion in Michigan and every other state.

Drug-induced medical abortions have grown over the past two decades. Today, 54 percent of all abortions at eight weeks of gestation are induced by taking a combination of two drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The pills must be taken within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy to be considered “safe.”

The first drug, mifepristone, known as the abortion pill, or RU-486, blocks the production of progesterone, a hormone needed for a successful pregnancy. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours later, usually at home. Misoprostol empties the uterus by causing cramping and bleeding.

‘Home, Alone’

Telemedicine can increase access to abortion pills without physically visiting a physician, but like surgical abortions always presents a risk, says Veneklase.

“With telemed, no ultrasound would be necessary, women don’t even need to hear the heartbeat,” said Veneklase. “Women go home, alone.  How is that good for women?”

According to KFF, 19 states have policies that restrict telehealth for medical abortion.  Michigan, where HELP is based, is not one of them.

“It is so important that we get in front of the culture instead of always trying to catch up,” said Veneklase. “We really need to be out in front. With this expansion, this vision, we will move into the forefront to get ahead of medical abortion.”

‘Changing the Tide’

One goal of expanded HELP services in Michigan is to make Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) kits widely available.

APR uses hormones to overpower the effects of the first abortion pill. It is designed for women who have changed their minds and can be successful if administered within 72 hours, says Veneklase.

“We have a window of time where we can make an impact of changing the tide of that woman who changes her mind,” said Veneklase. “If we can get that window between the first pill and the second pill, we can make good efforts to save her pregnancy.”

HELP’s medical director is a physician who specializes in APR, says Veneklase.

“We want to have the service here, right now, when she calls, when she is ready to change her mind,” said Veneklase.

‘Two Lives Are at Stake’

Today, it is widely understood that pre-natal life is human, says Marilyn Singleton, M.D., J.D.

“Technological advances have convinced even the skeptical that the growing fetus is a human life,” said Singleton.

Even under Roe, most states recognized the value of fetal life in criminal law, says Singleton.

“At least 38 states charge a killer of a pregnant woman with two murders—and 29 of those include any stage of fetal development after fertilization,” said Singleton.

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement is facing new headwinds because the American Medical Association (AMA) has changed its stand on abortion from opposition to support, says Singleton.

“The AMA, which had a history of being against abortion, now is advancing one resolution declaring abortion is a human right and another seeking to make abortion pills more available,” said Singleton. “Fortunately, there are many physicians who believe that two lives are at stake in the abortion debate.”

Dismissing fetal life as morally irrelevant, as many politicians and doctors have done, affects respect for life generally, says Singleton.

“Everything in society is connected,” said Singleton. “When physicians and policymakers openly devalue life, it is no wonder misguided individuals find it so easy to kill others.”

‘Some States Descend’

Pregnancy centers provide an important alternative for women in states that “enshrine” the “right” to abortion in state laws and constitutions, says Singleton.

“As some states descend further into the culture of death, more pro-life advocates are spurred on to actively stop the carnage by opening such clinics,” said Singleton.

Meeting the growing demand for aid to pregnant women will require the efforts of activists and legislators, says Morrison.

“As more women rely on pregnancy centers for care, these centers will need increased support from their communities,” said Morrison. “Right now, state and federal lawmakers have a prime opportunity to explore and champion pro-life and pro-family policies that help pregnant women, their unborn children, and the organizations that support them.”

 

AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News. A version of this article was published by LifeSite News on June 21, 2022.  Reprinted with permission.

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AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.

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