Christian pro-life activists often hear accusations from our left-leaning neighbors that claim we fail to care for expectant mothers in crisis. We don’t care about women or are unconcerned with the baby after birth, or so they say. It is an easy criticism usually meant to advance support for abortion or increased government programs. It is also simply untrue.
Actions speak louder than words. Pro-life Christians profess that life begins at conception and every life is sacred, so the question becomes: “How does the Church actively support this message we send out into the community?” If one hopes to save the lives of the unborn, it follows a feasible alternative must be presented. The answer provided by the Christian community are Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRC).
Many PRCs are affiliated with Care Net while others are independent local non-profit ministries. And while each center differs in the resources they can offer, most staff are driven by their Christian compassion and social witness for the dignity of unborn life and their mothers.
Few of us are likely familiar with the history of PRCs. I, too, was unaware of the details surrounding these ministries’ founding. An inquiring mind, I discovered the first PRC, called Birthright, was founded in Canada in 1968 by a Christian woman named Louise Summerhill. Initially, assistance consisted of hotlines, pregnancy tests, and counseling.
By 1980, Care Net established its first PRC in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout the 1980’s, maternity support, classes, support groups and Bible studies were made available to the public at many PRC locations. The 1990’s saw even further advances as the Church offered more financial support which helped some local PRCs provide STD testing, ultrasounds, legal counsel and prenatal care.
The impact PRCs have had on expectant mothers and their communities is irrefutable. A study found that more than 5 million hours were donated by volunteers and the programs saved the community over 100 million dollars in the year 2010. More than 40,000 men and women volunteer their time, in the hopes of saving even one life. By the mid-2000’s, there were 2300 centers open, 620 provided medical support, 320 maternity homes and 350 maternity support centers. These PRC’s are all 501(k) nonprofits and are supported mainly by private donations. Staff members and donors are active in their commitment to the Christian tenet of the sanctity of life.
PRCs affiliated with Care Net share the Christ-centered mission of advancing “a culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families.” What a compassionate ministry that speaks to the values the Church holds dear. PFCs exemplify the love of Jesus Christ by also providing post-abortion care and counseling, and most importantly, compassion, to women in need of assistance. Volunteers genuinely strive to love their neighbors as themselves, supporting Christians and non-Christians alike.
Terry Weaver, the former director of Birthright, offered a clear and shining example of the humble heart of PRC volunteers. She established the first U.S. Birthright center in Atlanta and was promoted to national director in 1991, finally retiring in 2014. Weaver worked tirelessly for 45 years, never receiving or asking for a salary or stipend. Weaver did this because she believed wholeheartedly in the idea that the life of a child was invaluable. During an interview, Weaver notably said, “Instead of saying, ‘don’t have an abortion’, why not say, ‘I’d like to help you have this baby. . .’” Weaver spent her years serving others with the mentality that compassion and servanthood would help save the lives of unborn children across the country.
PFC’s are an extension of the Body of Christ offering a helping hand to soon-to-be parents and actively speaks to the character and values of the Church. May we then participate in the work it takes to sustain the livelihood of every child and their mother.
To find and prayerfully and financially support a Pregnancy Resource Center in your area, please visit https://www.care-net.org/find-a-pregnancy-center.