By Christy Yao
A common pro-choice argument is that women will always need abortions. That we cannot end crisis pregnancies, so we cannot end the solution to these pregnancies: abortion. However, pro-life advocates seek a different solution to crisis pregnancies. The pro-life argument is that the woman’s crisis is what should be eliminated, not the child the woman is carrying.
Jeannie French of Democrats for Life of America recently gave a talk at the Rehumanize Conference titled “The Answer to Crisis Pregnancy: Eliminate the Crisis, not the Child.” French described two types of abortions: The OMG! Abortions, otherwise known as a “crisis pregnancy,” where the mother feels she cannot support a child, and the “fetal defects” abortions, where the pregnancy is wanted, but the child has been diagnosed with a condition where the doctors recommend terminating. French then went into the history of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, where at the time, there was much less information on fetal life. Since 1973, the science of fetology has improved and doctors can now do surgery on fetuses. With these advances, families are taking a new interest in their unborn children, such as reading to them.
In her talk, French revealed the deeply personal story that she carried an unborn child with an fatal condition to term. She had been pregnant with twins, and her doctor could see that one of the twins was not going to survive long past birth due to a severe case of spina bifida. The doctors recommended a selective abortion, but she refused. She did not know if doctors would be able to perform surgery on her daughter and was told that her daughter would not be able to survive without being intubated. Her daughter lived for three hours after birth.
Now French uses her heartbreaking experience for good by testifying against the partial-birth abortion ban. French was determined to make as much good as possible come out of her daughter’s short life, so she arranged for her daughter’s organs to be donated to save other babies. Also, in her advocacy she is able to see the pain of the mothers who abort their children. French stressed our duty to help children as they pass through this life.
In addition, the pro-life movement needs to stress helping mothers in crisis pregnancies, such as “OMG abortions.” French explained that the pregnancy is not the crisis, but the woman’s situation may be. She then explained what a women may need in order to not have an abortion. French found that what the women often needs is not material goods. 80% of women are having an abortion to please or protect someone else. The woman cannot see a way out of her situation, and often just needs someone to be with them and encourage them to have their children. Women need someone to say “I’ll be there.” That being said, French explained, we cannot forget about the impact of job discrimination, low wages, etc. on women feeling compelled to abort.
French’s talk is coherent with advice given from Lamaze International and research done by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Lamaze reports that nearly half of US pregnancies are unplanned according to the CDC. Lamaze reminds those who usually view pregnancy as a joyful event that those facing unplanned pregnancies can be shocked, upset, or devastated at the news that they are expecting. This can be especially hard when combined with the physical toll that the first trimester can have.
Lamaze recommends that women first take care of their physical needs and focus on maintaining a healthy pregnancy, which can take the focus away from negative emotions. It is especially beneficial for the woman to confide in someone she trusts for comfort and support, similar to French’s advice. Lamaze reminds women not to feel guilty about what they are feeling and to remember that feelings are not actions. A woman being upset about a crisis pregnancy does not make her a bad mother. Conversely, a woman who is excited or happy at a crisis pregnancy does not make her irresponsible or make her joy any less real. Lastly, Lamaze recommends a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy finds comfort and support from other women who have been in their shoes, as well as consult with a counselor, psychiatrist, or other health professional about any concerns they might have.
In 2018, the Lozier Institute published a report called, “A Half Century of Hope, a Legacy of Life and Love” based on data collected from pregnancy center networks Carenet, Heartbeat International, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, as well as many smaller networks. The key findings from this report included that in 2017, 2,752 pregnancy centers provided almost 2,000,000 people with approximately $161 million of free services. This includes 679,600 free pregnancy tests, classes for 679,600 parents, and support for 24,100 post-abortive people. 70% of these centers provide free ultrasounds—a 24% increase from 2010. This includes 100 mobile units with ultrasounds. 400,100 hours of free services were provided by nurse and diagnostic sonographers in pregnancy centers. Pregnancy centers have a total of 67,400 volunteers including 7,500 medical professionals. The report also found that the majority of Americans, whether pro-life or pro-choice, considers crisis pregnancy centers a valuable resource. The report also stated that pregnancy centers received extremely high rates of satisfaction from the people who used their services.
There are many solutions to a crisis pregnancy that does not involve abortion. Whether the woman is in a bad situation or the child has an abnormality, it is crucial as pro-life people that we give support and resources to mothers facing difficult pregnancies. We must care for the woman and her child, making sure that each can thrive no matter what the situation may be. Women facing a crisis pregnancy should know that it is okay to reach out to others for help. It is important to take care of yourself, and therefore take care of the child within you.
This article originally appeared in Volume 7 Issue 1 of Life Matters Journal.