“Hi. I am a 21 year old young woman who was wondering if you could possibly help me…
I am possibly pregnant and kind of terrified, because my parents will be enraged.”
There are some moments in your life that stick with you forever, and I think this will be my moment. Emily* was the first person who ever contacted me about an unplanned pregnancy. She was from New York and she messaged me at 2am her time. She was scared and alone. I was scared too. I was scared that she would get in contact with Planned Parenthood (America’s largest abortion provider) before I could connect her with an organisation that would support and empower her in the journey ahead.
In a world that offers us so many choices and so many people to guide us in these choices, pregnant women aren’t being offered this same level of support.
Athletes have trainers, students have teachers and an apprentice has a master (yes, I’m looking at you Yoda and Luke Skywalker). But who do all the Emilys of the world have?
Abortion clinics that profit from women’s abortions are not in a place to offer independent counselling. A woman deserves to have people to guide her through what may be the most difficult moment in her life. In a society that says to young mothers that they can’t cope with pregnancy, she needs a voice that says ‘Yes, you can!’
Jennifer Gurry, CEO of Diamond Women’s Support, based in Bella Vista, says “at Diamond we don’t think any woman should face an unplanned pregnancy alone. We passionately believe in the potential of every woman and we are committed to providing a holistic care approach to women facing an unplanned pregnancy.”
Zoe’s Place executive director Helen Bell echoes Jennifer’s comments saying, “if you’re feeling unsure about what to do, call Zoe’s Place if you live in Newcastle or Hunter Region! But know that you have plenty of time to make this decision. Take your time to find out all the information you can about each of your options. Whatever choice you make, you are not alone. We are here to support you.” Although sometimes challenging, Helen says that “seeing a woman fall in love with her unborn child” makes her job worth it.
Linda Smyth, executive officer of Sara’s Place says, “women are amazing. I have the privilege of witnessing modern day heroes. They have no cape. The world doesn’t know their name. But they are the world to their children. It’s not about how many people know your name but that you are known to those that matter.”
These centres are having a remarkable impact in New South Wales. Jennifer estimates she’s assisted approximately 1000 women during her time at Diamond Women’s Support and Helen reports Zoe’s Place is expecting five more babies to be born in the next six months alone.
These incredible women spend their days offering pregnancy counselling, post-abortive counselling, training volunteers, providing ongoing support to volunteers, marketing their services, organising fundraising events, office administration, teaching parenting classes, speaking in high schools, providing ongoing support to new mums and the list goes on.
Perhaps the most surprising part of all this is these organisations do not receive any government funding (unlike abortion clinics!) meaning that they rely entirely on the support of volunteers and generous donors to continue their work in being a supportive voice for women both during and after pregnancy.
So what can we do to support them?
If you’re amazing at organising events then put on a fundraising dinner (or movie or high tea or fun run) to raise money for them. If you’re a skilled knitter then make baby booties and hats as presents for pregnant mothers. This is your chance to use your wacky and marvellous skills to brighten someone else’s day!
Contact one of these organisations and volunteer for them! Also liking their Facebook page or following them on Instagram is incredibly helpful in spreading the word about them (links below)
As mentioned before, these organisations do not receive government funding and they offer their services to clients free of charge. Because of this, they do require generous donors to support their amazing work.
I don’t know what happened to Emily and her baby, but I do know that I did everything I could to help them. It made me wonder, how many Emilys are there that didn’t hear all their options before making a decision? As a woman, I want other women to feel empowered and I hate the idea that society is telling young women that they must choose between themselves or their baby. We can love both!
Many people say that “abortion is a women’s issue”. Is it?
The short answer is yes…but no. The idea that abortion is solely a women’s issue is an argument rooted in isolation and naivety. Yes, abortion involves women, their bodies and their lives but this does not mean it is an issue that does not concern men. Sorry to say it, abortion concerns men too. It concerns the man who would have been the father. It concerns the father of the woman who is having an abortion and it concerns the men that make up 50% of the population who pays tax to fund our health care system. So in short, yes, men are included in the embryonic equation.
This does not mean that men need to start analysing ovarian content and take up a career in midwifery (but if you are thinking of this career, it’s awesome, trust me) but it does mean men need to start getting involved with the conversation of how they can practically help women experiencing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. Abortion affects more than just the woman, it is relevant to everyone and therefore men are imperative to the pro-life movement.
But how does a man have a conversation about a topic that they will never go through?
And this is where the pregnancy support centres come in!
Pregnancy support centres are what their name suggests – centres for pregnancy support. These centres provide an avenue for men to be involved with the pro-life movement in a meaningful yet non-intrusive way. The centres can act as a mediator during pre-abortion counselling whereby men can express their feelings in a compassionate way, without being perceived as disrespectful.
While the incredible team of women behind these centres do wonderful work in helping other women from all walks of life, there be some advantages to men being involved too.
From speaking to the women who run these pregnancy support centres, it’s incredibly common that the woman is there because she is having issues in her relationship and therefore does not feel prepared to have a child. To see other men caring and helping at a women’s health centre is symbolic of men being able to care in the first place, in a society that stereotypes men as having no emotions at all. It also allows for greater diversity within support centres as well, which leads to better work place environments and a larger variety of ideas and opinions. Even if you are a man who is on the fence about abortion, no one at pregnancy support clinic is asking. You would just be helping women who ask for help, which is a basic tenet of decency. If you are a man wanting to assist in such situations, these support centres will be able assist you in assisting, sort of like an “assist-ception”!
So here are our top three ways for men to get involved in supporting pregnancy centres:
Organise a fundraising event for them – fun runs, movie screenings and raffles are always popular
Ask them what they need help with – repainting the walls, running a dad’s group, making up gift packs for expecting mums
Spread the word – follow them on social media, tell other dads
It is a great place to start and I strongly encourage any man to help these agencies. It will make a man out of you.
A couple of days a week, I’m privileged to work here in Sydney, as a disability support worker. What a privilege it is.
The joy and happiness that greets me when I walk into the room knocks me back, every single time. What’s more, just for a second, before the dancing and the art, the sport and the learning begins, I consider what it is that gives my life meaning and value as an individual.
In the last seven years, not one baby with Down-Syndrome has been born in China, Iceland or Denmark. In the US, 92% of unborn Down syndrome babies are terminated, 93% are aborted in the UK and only 5% make it to the delivery room here in Australia.
South Australia’s 2015 abortion report, published last month, revealed that of all the abortions that occurred due to disability of the unborn baby, 56.5% of cases were due to ‘chromosomal abnormality’, most likely Down syndrome.
Of the many abortions that are carried out after a child is identified as having a disability, a distressing 29.4% of these occur after 20 weeks. This occurs despite phenomenal advances in medicine that increasingly see premature children, born after 23 weeks, go on to live happy, healthy lives.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I received the news that my (hypothetical, sorry mum, no grandchildren yet!) unborn baby had Down syndrome, would my gut reaction be to punch the air? It probably wouldn’t be.
Despite this, the truth is very simple – those with a disability, almost exclusively live incredibly enjoyable and meaningful lives. Their smiles, excitement and enthusiasm for the day ahead, certainly put mine to shame on a Monday morning. I’ve never encountered any member of the disability community who has questioned their right to existence. If they don’t, who gives us the right to?
Furthermore, for parents, raising a child with a disability can bring joy every bit as powerful as conventional parenthood. Of course, there will be testing moments and without question mum and dad will need to show devotion, patience and love to their differently abled child. Nonetheless, while different parents will face different challenges, the adoration in the eyes of their children is universal. The wonders of being a mother or a father are found, not just in predetermined outcome, but in the unique and inspiring journey.
Just ask the mother of Wells who, in her blog ‘Nothing down about it’, has documented the initial challenges alongside the joyful and love-filled life, her, her family and their precious son now enjoy together.
Our society rightly strives to be a place free from discrimination. Yet many now openly speak positively about the eradication of those with differences totally beyond their control.
Difference is what makes us strong, it’s what makes our society interesting and vibrant. Those with a disability open our eyes to new perspectives and new experiences, the overwhelming majority of them positive. I for one, would rather look around our world and see diverse, different individuals – each with their own personalities, stories and eccentricities, than a homogenous collective consumed by societally-set desires. We don’t need less unique characters on our planet, we need more!
We’re hurtling toward a world in which we ascribe a set rate of worth to our children, even before they’re born. Achievement can never be measured on a standard societal chart or an economic spreadsheet. Its glory comes in its story, its context and in its personal meaning.
How much is a smile worth? How valuable a challenge overcome?
Life isn’t an easy ride. We all face challenges, we all face sad and lonely days. What’s more important is that we all experience movements of unique individual joy and of incredible personal happiness. It is as one of a kind individuals that we find our wider societal belonging.
Yes, some climb higher obstacles than others but this only makes their achievements more spectacular. In the end, a society that seeks to eradicate those who are different will be a weaker, sadder and less interesting one.
Abortion is damaging our individuality, our vibrancy and our happiness. It’s time we embraced difference, celebrated diversity and took a stand for life.