WASHINGTON (BP)–Mallory Hitt could have been aborted after her mother was raped but instead was placed for adoption because her mother chose to go to a pregnancy resource center. Now she is a dean’s list student hoping to achieve a law degree.
Hitt shared her story at the National Press Club, where the Family Research Council released a new report detailing the impact of pregnancy resource centers nationwide in curbing the abortion epidemic and improving the lives of pregnant women in need.
“Had my birthmother not turned to the pregnancy center for help, I might not have left her womb intact. I am glad to be alive and feel an obligation to let people know that pregnancy centers are good for America because they really help women and children,” Hitt, a student at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., said.
The FRC report, “A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life,” is available at www.aPassionToServe.org and includes information on how pregnancy resource centers in the United States and worldwide have made a difference. Release of the report coincided with the 40-year anniversary of the pregnancy resource center movement in the U.S.
With more than 2,300 U.S. centers affiliated with national organizations, pregnancy resource centers assist about 5,500 Americans daily with concerns related to sexuality and pregnancy, in addition to serving in more than 40 countries, according to the report, which was released Sept. 30.
“This report lays out the untold story of centers that provide caring and compassionate services to at least 1.9 million people each year at little or no cost to the clients and the taxpayers, in large part thanks to private charity and the high proportion of trained volunteers who work at the centers,” Tony Perkins, FRC’s president, said.
One way some pregnancy resource centers assist pregnant women is by providing free ultrasounds. Women who are at risk to have an abortion, the report said, are twice as likely “to express their intent to carry their baby” to term if they receiving counseling and an ultrasound than if they only receive counseling.
Another way pregnancy resource centers assist women is by connecting with them online, the report said.
The 24/7 Option Line contact center, a website that assists people with pregnancy-related and abortion-recovery needs, is operated by Care Net, a nonprofit organization that supports a large network of pregnancy centers, and joint venture partner Heartbeat International, an association of such centers, the report said.
“The Option Line is giving us the opportunity to reach 93 percent of those women, our youngest demographic, who will only go online to find their answers, to connect with a real person and get them in a door where the loving care and support is there for her,” Melinda Delahoyde, Care Net’s president, said at the news conference.
Pregnancy resource centers help women attain better health for themselves and for their children by providing abortion alternatives such as pregnancy support and adoption, Freda McKissic Bush, medical advisor for Heartbeat International, said.
Among services provided by many pregnancy resource centers, according to the report, are pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, prenatal care, childbirth classes, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence education, post-abortion counseling and material assistance.
Pregnancy resource centers not only provide for needs from resources within the centers but by connecting women to free clinics, community health centers and other services, which usually result in positive maternal and child health effects, the report said. Examples of community, social and support agencies are listed in the document, which is available for download at www.aPassionToServe.org.
Sandy Christiansen, national medical consultant to Care Net, said she has performed hundreds of ultrasounds at pregnancy resource centers.
“I never tire of observing the look in that woman’s eye or the man’s eye … when they first see that baby…. When they see a flickering heartbeat, they make a connection,” Christiansen said.
Only 13 percent of counties in the United States have an abortion facility, but 65 percent of all U.S. women live in those counties, Margaret Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, said.
Although pregnancy resource centers make positive contributions in their communities, the centers face challenges.
“Any health care reform, any public policy that inhibits the centers is undercutting the wellbeing of mothers, babies and families,” said Charles Donovan, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society.
In addition, an FRC staff member said the Obama administration sees an unborn child as a commodity for use in embryonic stem cell research. FRC, an organization that promotes marriage, family and the sanctity of human life in national policy, rejects such a view, said Rob Schwarzwalder, FRC’s senior vice president.
“The Obama administration has made a very studied and deliberate choice in the use of the term the ‘need for abortion,’ implying that such a need ever exists,” Schwarzwalder said.
Cindy Ortiz, a junior at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., is attending the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ Washington Journalism Center this semester and serving as an intern with Baptist Press.