Helping pregnant women choose life Print
Thursday, Oct. 02, 2008 -- 1:31 AM

Jamie (not her real name) was young and smart. She had aspirations of being a veterinarian. But she found out she was pregnant. She thought that having a baby would destroy her dreams. To make matters worse, she believed that if her parents found out she was pregnant, they would kick her out of their home.

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

She had made an appointment with Planned Parenthood to have an abortion. However, Jamie wanted to limit the cost of that appointment by finding another place to have an ultrasound. Her sister found out about Care Net Pregnancy Center of Dane County. When she was told that Care Net did ultrasounds free of charge, Jamie decided to set up an appointment.

Jamie came to Care Net when it moved into its new facilities at the Elizabeth House in Madison. She was the very first client.

Some surprises for Jamie

By the time she came for the appointment, her parents had found out about her pregnancy. And, Care Net reports, as is often the case, her parents didn't throw her out of the house. In fact, her father came with her to the appointment along with some other family members.

It turned out that Jamie's father wasn't in favor of abortion and told her that he would be willing to adopt her child if she gave birth. The next surprise came during the ultrasound. There, on the screen, Jamie could see her unborn child moving and the heart beating. Her eyes got big, reported Care Net staff, when she realized that it wasn't a blob of tissue but a tiny person.

Jamie's mind was made up. She could not possibly go through with an abortion. She decided to carry the baby to term and to parent her child.

Support for women and children

Care Net and the Elizabeth House maternity home are among many kinds of services being offered to support women involved in crisis pregnancies in the Diocese of Madison area. Pregnancy Helpline, Elizabeth Seton House and other services offered by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, and many Catholic parishes, schools, and organizations are among those helping women and their families in need.

For example, Care Net is affiliated with over 850 facilities in North America which equip young women and men to make wise life choices, empower them to choose life for themselves and their unborn child, and serve those affected by abortions to heal.

Elizabeth House, run by Care Net, is a home that assists women with unplanned pregnancies who have no place to live. The home helps them stay in school or get job training, besides learning to care for their children.

Number of abortions declines

This kind of support for pregnant women and children may be one reason why the number of abortions in Wisconsin continues to decline. Abortions in our state fell 14 percent in 2007 as compared to 2006 with 1,313 fewer abortions. This is the biggest annual decrease in a decade, noted Wisconsin Right to Life (WRL).

Barbara Lyons, WRL executive director, noted that her organization has used a multi-faceted strategy to reduce the number of abortions. The continued declines year after year prove their strategies are successful.

Nonetheless, there is much work to be done. Reports show that women aged 20 to 24 are the ones most likely to have an abortion. African-American women continue to abort at a higher rate. Women who are not married obtain 88 percent of abortions, indicating that the absence of the father in the woman's life impacts her decision to abort.

Educate and support women and families

As we begin the Catholic Church's observance of Respect Life Month, we must continue to educate all people -- especially our youth -- on the Church's teaching that life begins at conception, that all life should be respected and given a chance to develop.

We must also encourage our society to step up its efforts to help women and men choose life and give them the support they need to care for their babies during and after pregnancy. And we must pray that our efforts will eventually make abortions rare if not obsolete.