Support Services: The Forgotten Arm of the Pro-Life Movement
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of volunteering at Aid to Women, a local crisis pregnancy centre that provides support and resources to young women who experience unplanned pregnancies. They maintain a good inventory of baby clothes, shoes, formula, cribs and other essential supplies. They also provide information via their brochures on the problems with abortion and the alternatives to abortion that are available.
Helping out with them, I was able to see the importance to the Pro-Life Movement of having a well-funded and well-organised network of support services such as crisis pregnancy centres and adoption agencies. The Pro-Life Movement is known to have three “arms”: Apologetics/outreach, political activism, and support services. However, it seems that a majority of the time, people, both for and against the Movement, associate it only with the former two, and forget about the latter. Because of this, I tend to see the support services as the “forgotten arm” of the pro-life movement, receiving far less attention than either those doing the outreach and those lobbying our governments for laws restricting abortion. But a properly functioning third arm is essential, for two main reasons:
First, The Support Services Arm represents the more “human” side of the Pro-Life Movement. What I mean is that crisis pregnancy centres and adoption agencies are the ones who are most involved in assisting those individuals who are most central to the abortion debate: Pregnant mothers and the children born to such mothers. Without the services being provided to this demographic, we will appear to be just another impersonal “special interest” group, and the media is rife with caricatures of Pro-Lifers as uncaring demagogues already! But by providing such services, we will be seen as people who genuinely care for the most vulnerable elements of society, providing a more positive image for the movement as a whole.
Second, the Support Services Arm is necessary for the other two arms to function effectively. For those involved in either apologetics/outreach or political activism, think about this: How often do abortion advocates ask us, “What are you doing to help those pregnant women who you want to keep their babies”? Usually, pro-lifers reply that the rightness of keeping one’s baby isn’t dependent on whether or not someone else is available to help care for the baby (with comparisons to stopping abusive husbands from beating their wives). However, while the logic of this response is sound, it is hardly persuasive to most opponents of the Pro-Life Movement, whose arguments tend to be more governed by emotions than by logic.
Now, if we have a good network of crisis pregnancy centres and adoption centres to point to in answer to that question, we can go a long way towards stifling these hostile objections of Pro-Abortion activists, as well as garnering understanding and support for the Pro-Life Movement. On the political side, we would not need the government funding and allowing unrestricted access to abortion if political activists can show that support services can cover the bases that those in government are expecting abortion clinics to cover.
To do this however, we would need an extensive support services network. Ideally, we should have at least as many crisis pregnancy centres as we have abortion clinics. Sadly, this is not a reality yet. However, we can work towards changing this situation by donating our time and/or money to the crisis pregnancy centres, and convincing churches and other similar community organisations to start up similar services of their own. Only by doing so can we undermine the societal monopoly that abortion clinics currently have, and convince the public (and our government officials) that such clinics are not necessary to support our nation’s mothers and children.