By now you’ve probably heard Eminem’s new song featuring Ed Sheeran, ‘River’ – a heartbreaking confession of a string of regrets. Among them is his remorse for forcing a woman to have an abortion. He talks about his ‘baby’ and ‘that I really woulda’ loved your smile’. He also describes that ending the life of this baby is just ‘one more lie to tell an unborn child’.
What other lies are we telling unborn children and their mothers? Our society tells young, pregnant women that they’re not ready for this baby – that they’re not strong enough or smart enough to raise a child. Our society tells the unborn that they’re not valuable and they’re not worthy of the most basic human right; the right to life.
Just like Eminem’s baby and the mother of that child, we believe that the unborn and their mothers deserve so much better than abortion. You can do this. We don’t want anymore mums and dads hurting because of this irreversible decision.
“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!
An interesting article in the SMH yesterday talked about a young mother’s education program in Newcastle. This program helps young women who have dropped out of school because they fell pregnant to get back to school and actually complete their education. Some of these women will be completing their HSC this week, some even at the age of 22. The program helps the women to study by providing an onsite crèche service so that they can leave their babies and go and attend class. The structure of the curriculum is comfortable, flexible and informal so that the individual needs of the mothers can be met.
This is an excellent program and there really should be more programs like this. This program really allows women to have to best of both worlds – their child and their education. It was noted that these women will often be the first in their families to go on to complete tertiary education. Amanda McInnes, a teacher at the school, said that the girls are “often in a cycle of welfare dependency and poverty and lack of education. One of the goals of the program is to help them break out of that and education is the key.”
This just goes to show that there are real options for women who have an unplanned pregnancy in their teen years. The women shown in this article are happy and have incredible resilience in the eyes of their teachers. There is always another alternative to abortion and the four women in the article show that their pregnancy didn’t mean the end of their lives and education but it was really just the beginning. Women need to know that there are alternatives and even if it might be hard, it can be very rewarding just like these women have discovered.