The timing of Jahr’s pontificating is ironic as it came while I was in Denver as a representative of Americans United for Life (AUL) at the Care Net national conference. Care Net is an organization that supports more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers across the country. Pregnancy centers provide free care and resources to women facing unintended pregnancies. I was surrounded by more than a thousand staff members and volunteers who have given countless hours of time, and countless dollars, to compassionately care for women facing an abortion decision.
From age seven, I’ve witnessed and shared in the loving responsibility of providing whatever assistance a pregnant mother might need, as my own mother worked tirelessly as an executive director of a pregnancy care center.
Pro-life Americans understand this kind of daily dedication – responding with money, time, and treasure to nurture the potential of every unborn life with tangible resources.
At the March for Life thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life – charities, churches, synagogues, non-profits, individuals, and business leaders – join together to reconfirm their belief in something larger than themselves. Family celebrations are a perfect way to recommit to the reality of life and all it demands. Sometimes the best way to show your love for people is a party or a memorial, a celebration of the hope that draws us together.
It’s inadequate to draw conclusions about the pro-life movement based on limited observation of the March for Life, as Jahr does. Consider these facts taken from a survey of pregnancy centers in 2010: Through pregnancy centers, the pro-life community served more than 2.3 million families facing unintended pregnancies, with services including peer counseling, free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, parental education, and post-abortion support. These services were provided by 71,000 volunteers who logged more than 5.7 million volunteer hours.
Approximately 54 percent of the 2,000 pregnancy centers in the US provide medical services to women facing unintended pregnancies, almost all for free. In 2010, pregnancy centers provided needy families with free services valued at nearly $101 million.
And pregnancy centers did all this while taking very little government funding, if any. In fact, the work of the pro-life movement in serving their communities was so extraordinary that, in 2008, the White House specifically recognized pregnancy centers for their volunteerism.
Likewise, dozens of states have passed resolutions honoring the work of these centers. Indeed, having spent decades working in the pro-life movement, I am convinced that the safest and most caring place for a woman facing an unintended pregnancy to be is inside a pro-life pregnancy center. Most pregnancy centers boast client satisfaction rates upward of 90 percent.
And what of the legal organizations that work to enact pro-life laws, organizations like Americans United for Life? Do they care about women? Of course.
AUL’s has several legislation models which have served as the basis for state bills. AUL's "Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act," for example, would require abortion clinics to meet medically appropriate standards of patient care – care that all women deserve. Women die every year inside under-regulated abortion clinics, including Tonya Reeves who bled to death for five hours inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago before an ambulance was called.
AUL’s “Women’s Right to Know Act” model legislation equips women with information about the abortion procedure, and its risks and alternatives so that women can have full information before making such a major life decision. The pro-life movement believes women are intelligent and deserving of this information. And AUL’s “Parental Involvement Enhancement Act” model legislation enhances parental consent laws to ensure that sexual abusers of minor girls are not able to force girls into abortion.
And where is the pro-choice movement spending its money? Many groups spend it intensely opposing these very bills every time they are introduced. When you look at the complete picture, it is the pro-life movement that is caring for and defending women. At our core we believe all women and children deserve the best life possible.
Jeanneane Maxon is vice president for external affairs and corporate counsel at Americans United for Life.