Thanks to advancements in medicine and technology, we know far more about the development of the fetus than we did when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. We are also vastly more aware of the lively humanity of the unborn. These changes are vivid to me in my work as a radiologist in which some of my patients are expectant mothers and their children. For that reason, I joined two other female physicians in submitting a friend of the court brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case that could soon overturn Roe’s unrestricted right to abortion.
Something else has changed over the last half-century, something that I see in my volunteer work. The pro-life community has built, through hard work and sacrifice, a national, thriving network of pregnancy care centers dedicated to helping at-risk mothers and their babies.
These pregnancy care centers exist to provide real alternatives for women who too often think their only choice is abortion. Volunteers and supporters understand that it would be wrong to defend the lives of vulnerable unborn children from elective abortion while ignoring the real challenges faced by their mothers and fathers. Pregnancy care centers are a refutation of the baseless charge levied at pro-lifers — that they care only that those babies are not destroyed, that they don’t care at all about the babies or their families once the child is born.
Day after day, volunteers and staff at these centers address the obstacles facing each expectant mother. The obstacles are often substantial: poverty, insufficient access to maternity care, precarious living and employment situations, a lack of job training and relationship skills. The people at these centers try to help the women who come to them to overcome these obstacles, and they do this with great enthusiasm and more love.
At an abortion facility, by contrast, an expectant mother is offered exactly one option: abortion. She’s told that a simple, quick surgical procedure or the ingesting of a couple of pills will put this little episode behind her as though it had never happened. And if she cannot afford to pay the facility’s hefty fees, perhaps an adjustment can be worked out.
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It’s a far cry from the open-ended question that meets the same woman at a pregnancy care center: How can we help you weather this storm? How can we help you achieve your goals?
For my part, I read fetal ultrasounds for several centers in South Florida. We date the pregnancies and detect signs of life in the embryos. We show the mother, and often the father, the delightful humanity of the little one on the way, the endearing liveliness of a little son or daughter. We also help them to connect to the reality of the situation — one that is much more significant than the daunting obstacles that surround it. Pregnancy resource centers reject the “pro-choice” movement’s minimizing of the painful consequences of abortion. We know that every abortion produces casualties: the baby, of course, but also the mother who very often would have loved to clasp that child in her arms if circumstances had been different. Volunteers at pregnancy care centers do everything they can to make her dream possible and avert the casualties of abortion.
The good news is that many states have been quietly stepping up funding for these facilities. Their legislatures are responding to the wishes of constituents who want to provide compassionate alternatives for mothers at risk. My fellow Floridians, along with our friends in Texas and Pennsylvania and elsewhere, don’t want women to be driven to abort. We reject the worldview of Planned Parenthood and others who talk about “choice” but have only one option on their menu. Does choice really exist when other alternatives are nonexistent or impossible to achieve?
Ever since the Supreme Court handed down Roe in 1973, abortion advocates have attacked the pro-life community for failing to meet the needs of expectant mothers and their babies. It’s an unfair criticism given the explosion of pregnancy resource centers over the past five decades. But here’s what makes the baseless political charge more maddening: They continue to attack the quiet and beautiful work of pro-life America at the very time it may be more needed if, God willing, the Supreme Court overturns Roe and returns abortion policy to the states.
LifeNews Note: Dr. Grazie Christie is a radiologist and senior fellow at the Catholic Association.