Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Intimacy and Social Networking


One of our recent Care Net staff devotions was on the topic of intimacy. We were challenged with the following questions:

  • What characterizes intimacy?
  • What inhibits intimacy?
  • Do you long for intimacy?
That night, the movie, “The Social Network” premiered. I went to see it while some of the discussion on intimacy was still reverberating in my brain.

The movie is about the phenomenon known as Facebook. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what social networking is, and you know that Facebook is king of that universe.

The story centers on Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, a 19-year old wunderkind from Harvard, whose awkward personal relationships seem to indicate that he knows little about intimacy. But with his brilliant mind and computer programming skills, he designed an online network for strangers to connect with each other as “friends.”

The fantasy of Facebook is that it promotes some level of intimacy with all those people who have “confirmed” you as a friend. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On the other hand, shared passion promotes intimacy. The more difficult or challenging that passion, the more likely that the people involved will form close relationships and thus, develop a level of true intimacy with each other.

Working in the pro-life arena is born of a God-given passion for life. It reflects intimacy with God, who put that passion in our hearts, and called us to serve Him in a very counter-cultural way.

1 Timothy 6:19 challenges us to “take hold of that which is truly life.” If we are to “take hold of that which is truly life,” we need to seek intimacy with God. And the only way to do that is through repentance.

Repentance is the required ingredient that leads to intimacy. Facebook may have a few confessions posted online by some of its 500 million members, but that’s not the same as repentance.

After spiritual repentance and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, sanctification leads us to “good works” that God prepared in advance for us to do, for His glory (Ephesians 2:10).

Working in pregnancy centers reflects intimacy with God because it requires a repentant heart about abortion. We are privileged to do these “good works” and serve others as a true reflection of God’s heart. He has given us an honorable way to “take hold of life.”

In our sex-saturated, death-promoting culture, having a passion for life can only be from God. Sharing that passion with others leads to true intimacy.

No amount of social networking can compare with that.

Paula Cullen is Care Net's Regional Representative for the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Chilean Rescue: 'Bienvenido a la vida!'


As the 15th miner was rescued, the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera welcomed him with these words: "Bienvenido a la vida!", which in English means "Welcome to life!"

I just took a coffee break and in the break room was a TV showing live footage of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners in San Jose Mine.  At the bottom of the screen was a ticker that read "21 of 33 Rescued".  I was mesmerized. If you haven't tuned in yet, don't miss this amazing moment...

Since August 5th, 33 men have been trapped beneath the rock, uncertain of whether they would see their families, friends, or the light of day ever again. 

With precious lives at stake, the world has rallied to save them.  No expense has been too large - rescue planners, medical authorities, mining executives and even NASA engineers, have provided support, guidance, and resources to sustain their lives and retrieve them out from under the dirt.

I cried watching this raw footage of the first man that was rescued, Florencio Avalos. The camera pans back and forth from the deep, dark hole to the family members - Florencio's wife, son, and family - all anxiously hoping to see the face of a husband, a dad, a son, a brother, once again. As soon as the rescue capsule emerges, the family is overcome with emotion.

Watch this three minute video just to be reminded about the preciousness of life and the tremendous effort we make in order to save lives. When a child is sick, we will search the nation to find the right doctor and raise expenses to cover medical bills.  When a friend is destitute, we will open our homes and provide food and shelter for months on end.  And when a woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, we will go the extra mile to provide support and love so that her baby is welcomed with open arms and into a culture that says, "Bienvenido a la vida!"

The Chilean Rescue reminds me of the work of pregnancy centers and the time, resources, energy, and love that is poured into the ministry of saving unborn lives and loving women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Pregnancy centers provide such a wide variety of free services.  We strive to remove every barrier that would prevent a woman from having the resources and support she needs to carry her child to term.  From parenting and childbirth classes to referrals to community and government agencies for medical care, counseling, job training, and housing.  If it's not a program or service we provide, we will search high and low to help you get connected to that help.  In many cases, the best service we provide is simply a loving, listening ear and the ongoing emotional support to walk someone through an extremely challenging time. 

The lives of 33 Chilean miners are precious. So is yours. And so is every unborn life. Inspire Life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Conversion of Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood 'Employee of the Year'


One year ago on October 5, Abby Johnson, Employee of the Year at Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station, Texas declared she was now pro-life.  Her conversion should spur us all on to pray for and reach out to those in our lives who are yet to understand and embrace the sanctity of all human life. Shawn Carney, director of Coalition for Life in College Station writes about his encounter with Abby who had shown up in his office so unexpectedly that October day:

To see Abby Johnson, the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s employee of the year, in my office — in tears — was … a miracle!  Abby had seen an abortion on an ultrasound — for the first time — and was overcome by the reality of what actually happens during an abortion. She knew she was watching a helpless human being die. And she also knew immediately she could never do it again.
Abby, now a former Planned Parenthood staff member, came to our recent Care Net National Conference in Grapevine, Texas, to address the more than 1,300 attendees - pregnancy center directors, staff, board members, and all who somehow serve in the movement.  It was incredibly powerful to hear her praise the pro-life work of pregnancy centers.  So many in the abortion industry Abby has come out of generally do not have such nice things to say about our work. 

Her testimony is a reminder to me that those working in abortion clinics may genuinely think that they are helping women but they are sadly deceived.  It also is a reminder to me that I should be more faithful to pray for those caught up in this deception - not only for abortion providers, but also for those serving in national positions at Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Feminist Majority Foundation, and National Organization for Women to name a few.  Let's continue to pray for Abby as she shares her story around the country - for protection for her and her heart and that she would touch the lives and hearts of many about how precious human life is in all its forms.

Abby's is not the first miraculous conversion, and it will not be the last, if we are faithful to pray. Will you share your "pro-life conversion" story with us?  Will you join us in praying for the work of pregnancy centers and the end of abortion? 

Find out more how you can be involved in the Inspire Life campaign.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide


I loved reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The title, Half the Sky comes from an ancient Chinese proverb that states “Women hold up half the sky.” The book travels the globe bringing to light areas where women are being oppressed, abused, tortured and killed. Heartbreaking and ungodly topics like genital cutting, honor killings, rape of virgins, sexual slavery, forced early marriages, sky rocketing maternal mortality rates, denied education for girls and international poverty pepper the pages. The authors search to find solutions and interview victims and community workers that are making a difference in each of these areas. Sadly, the authors do not see abortion as a form of oppression but see worldwide access to abortion as a way out of oppression for women.

Half the Sky was not a light summer read but yet I found it energizing and thought provoking. The passionate commitment of the workers interviewed reminded me of the dedicated workers in the field of pro-life and pregnancy center work. The workers are compassionate and strong, standing up to the ungodly norms of the culture and confronting others to break free of attitudes that oppress women.

If we as Christians are going to provide opportunities for women to move out of oppression in our American abortion culture we must welcome unplanned and unwanted offspring into our world. We must continue to advocate for those that say no to abortion and make the culturally radical decision to give birth on their own. If women hold up “half the sky,” it is their children that give them the strength to do it.

Be encouraged my brothers and sisters in the field for life for God will “make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:6

Linda Cochrane is author of Forgiven and Set Free and post-abortion recovery consultant for Care Net.

Friday, August 20, 2010

ella - Women Deserve to Know the Truth


Worried about pregnancy? Forgot to use a condom? No problem: prevent that pregnancy with “emergency” contraception, better known as the morning-after pill, right? Well, it’s not that simple…

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved ella® (ulipristal acetate), a new drug closely related to Mifeprex (Mifepristone, otherwise known as “RU 486”). Like Mifeprex, ella has the potential to cause the death and abortion of an established pregnancy growing in the womb.

Wait a minute: I thought “emergency contraception” is supposed to prevent pregnancy, not abort one?! Actually, that depends upon how one defines “pregnancy.” A number of years ago, the medical community arbitrarily decided to redefine the start of pregnancy as at the point the embryo attaches to the womb. This flies in the face of the scientific reality that at conception, when the sperm and egg unite, a living being is formed already containing the blueprint (DNA) for eye/hair color, sex, fingerprints, etc., and this being is actively growing BEFORE he/she reaches the womb and attaches.

Plan B is the most common form of “emergency contraception.” According to the Plan B package insert for patients: “Plan B® is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium). It is not effective once the process of implantation has begun.” This latter mechanism prevents a newly formed living being from attaching. Many consider this a form of early abortion.

HRA Pharma, the company that manufactures the new drug, ella, claims that it is not an abortion pill. They claim that used at the dosage prescribed (important little caveat) it “just” prevents ovulation and/or implantation. Whoa, stop right there. We’ve already established that a new life has already formed before implantation and preventing implantation is a kind of abortion. But wait, it gets worse. Remember, ella is in the same drug family as Mifeprex, THE abortion pill. When women take Mifeprex, the newly attached and growing tiny human dies because the connection to the womb is dissolved. ella and Mifeprex both work the same way. ella doesn’t “just” prevent ovulation and implantation, but it also has the potential to abort an attached and growing pregnancy.

So, ella differs from Plan B in a HUGE way. Plan B does not disrupt a pregnancy once it is attached to the womb; however, like Mifeprex, ella CAN.

So, this brings me to this question: what is to keep doctors and women from using ella to abort pregnancies? Answer: nothing. Once the FDA approves a drug for a given indication, the FDA has NO power to control how it is used henceforth. Enter the “off-label” use of medications. This means that doctors are using a medication for a reason other than what it was originally approved for by the FDA. This practice is legal, although on the risky side. Often, there is very little scientific data (i.e. studies showing a benefit) to support off-label use of a given medication. So, the people who end up taking the drugs in these situations are essentially guinea pigs.

Doesn’t the FDA put any new drug application through a rigorous evaluation before allowing it to be sold on the market? Surely, a drug that will be used in young women who are at risk for pregnancy was thoroughly “checked out” before approving its use? You decide. Here is a list of people groups in which the drug has NOT been studied:
  • Women over age 35
  • Women who are taking hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, etc.)
  • Breast-feeding women
  • Adolescent females

Hmm…is there anything else that is not known about ella? Glad you asked. The potential impact on a pregnancy that is exposed but survives has not been thoroughly evaluated. Remember Plan B? Women are not supposed to use it as regular contraception, according to manufacturer’s instructions, but they do. They will likely do the same with ella and there is data lacking on the safety of repeated use.

Okay, so there are a number of concerns with this drug, now approved by the FDA. At least women have another option to help reduce unintended pregnancies, right? Wrong. If Plan B’s impact on pregnancy and abortion rates is any indicator of how effective ella may be, the news is not reassuring. Studies have shown that where Plan B is given to women, pregnancy and abortion rates remained essentially unchanged. Did you catch that? That means that Plan B has had ZERO impact on accomplishing its goal. So who has benefited? The pharmaceutical company. I predict one change with the introduction of ella: the abortion rates will go up as it becomes not another “emergency contraceptive” on the market, but another abortion pill masquerading as one.

Women deserve to know what they are being given. Get the word out.

Sandy Christiansen, MD, FACOG is Care Net's National Medical Consultant. To read more about ella, visit http://www.ellacausesabortions.com/. If you're planning to attend the Care Net National Conference in September 2010, sign up for the "Medication Abortions" workshop with Dr. Julie McDonald to learn more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Tokyo to the African Plain: Babies Bring Joy


Thomas Balmès’ documentary Babies chronicles the first year in the lives of four babies and their families, Bayarjargal from Bayanchandmani, Mongolia, Hattie from San Francisco, United States, Mari from Tokyo, Japan and Ponijao from Opuwo, Namibia. The film offers a refreshing perspective on life as a beautiful adventure full of curiosities, love and familial support and care.

Without narration or even much in the way of dialogue, save for lots of baby coos, the audience journeys with the children and their families from birth through learning to walk and talk. Through the rich, captivating images we see that regardless of our individual geography or level of affluence we humans share much in common, and life for new parents and little people new to the world is a stunning, joyous experience full of discovery and growth.

The film left me with the overwhelming feeling that life is both marvelous and mysterious – a beautiful and miraculous gift from God. Though it abstains from overtly promoting any particular moral agenda, as someone who embraces the pro-life ethic I found myself encouraged by the message of hope and the joy of living I’d seen communicated onscreen. Did you see this movie? How do you think its positive depiction of babies, parents and life will impact the viewer? Do you feel the film conveys a message that Inspires Life?

Elise Pino is Center Services Manger at Care Net

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pregnancy Center Referral Could Have Prevented Forced Abortion


On June 4th ABC news reported the story of Caitlin Bruce, a twenty-year old woman who recently filed a lawsuit against abortionist Abraham Hodari of the Feminine Health Care Clinic in Flint, Michigan. Caitlin went to the clinic seeking an abortion, but claims that as soon as she felt Hodari start the abortion procedure, she changed her mind and begged him to stop. Instead of stopping, she alleges that Hodari and his staff pinned her down, covered her mouth to muffle her screams, and forcibly aborted her baby. Of course, Hodari alleges that Caitlin changed her mind too late and that he had no choice but “to finish what he started.”

As I read Caitlin’s story, I was gripped not only by the horror of her experience in the abortion clinic, but also by a fact no one denies—no one helped Caitlin choose life for her baby, though she desperately wanted to do so.

Caitlin was only 18 when she became pregnant. She was dating a significantly older man, unemployed, and without a high school diploma, but was trying to make a life for herself. It was Caitlin’s father who convinced her to have the abortion. ABC News reported that Caitlin “had doubts about the abortion from the beginning, describing her emotions after finding out about the pregnancy as excited and nervous at the same time.” She told ABC News, “I was really confused, asking everybody else what I should do. Everybody told me, ‘You were too young.’ What I really wanted to hear was, ‘We'll help you out.’” How sad for Caitlin that no one she knew was willing to help her.

After she viewed a sonogram of her six week old unborn baby in the abortion clinic, her doubts about the abortion intensified. “I sat in the room for like five minutes and cried,” she said. Soon after her abortion, Caitlin fell into severe depression. At one point she even drove to the top of a hill and prepared to kill herself by driving her car over the cliff. A timely call from her mother saved her life, but even today she still struggles with depression.

Caitlin’s story reflects what we in the pregnancy center movement know all too well—that no woman truly wants and an abortion. Instead, they often feel pressured into abortion by others, and quite likely lack accurate information about fetal development or about the physical and emotion consequences of abortion. Women can also experience severe depression following an abortion, a fact recently recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart.

While I am horrified to hear of Caitlin’s experience in the abortion clinic, I am equally troubled that Caitlin ended up in the abortion clinic in the first place. Caitlin’s story is particularly tragic because less than a mile from the abortion clinic was a pregnancy center that would have told Caitlin the one thing she desperately wanted to hear: “We’ll help you out.”

The statement “We’ll help you out” reflects the very essence of pregnancy centers. All too often, pregnancy centers are the only ones women can turn to for help. They affirm a woman’s decision for life and assure her that no circumstances should force her into having an abortion.

Just as Caitlin expressed, this is all women need to hear. It is no wonder that 95% of all pregnant women who walk into a Care Net pregnancy center choose life for their baby! But, it is tragic that Caitlin never found a center. I am convinced that had Caitlin been referred to her local pregnancy center, she never would have undergone her horrid abortion experience. She would have been confident in her decision for life long before she ended up on the abortion table.

I hope that Caitlin’s story will encourage others to offer help and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies so that no other woman has to share in Caitlin’s experience. Care Net and Heartbeat International jointly operate a 24/7 call center called Option Line that is designed to assist women like Caitlin. You can do your part by memorizing the Option Line phone number, 1-800-395-HELP, and encouraging any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy to call and receive help.

Jeanneane Maxon is General Counsel for Care Net.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Telemedicine: The New Wave for Abortions


In Iowa, a local Planned Parenthood is using telemedicine to administer RU-486, otherwise known as the “abortion pill.” A remote doctor “meets” with the client via webcam, and, with a click of his mouse, remotely opens a drawer to dispense the pills to the client. The pills then have to be taken in front of the webcam so that the doctor can observe.

The Iowa Planned Parenthood says that affiliates from all over the country are calling them to find out how they can implement this new technological strategy. The whole idea came about because clients living in rural areas don’t always have access to doctors in their area. So, instead of a Planned Parenthood doctor having to travel all across the state “for one abortion pill patient,” they can now administer the drug via webcam.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, for one thing, there is evidence that RU-486 has the potential of being an extremely dangerous drug for women. Since the introduction of this drug in America until 2006, the FDA has acknowledged that there have been six deaths, nine life-threatening incidents, 232 hospitalizations, 116 blood transfusions, and 88 cases of infection. These reports are based on the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), which is a voluntary system experiencing underreporting.(1) However, from the reports they did receive, let’s read just one experience from taking RU-486.

(Warning, the following is an unedited report that contains graphic descriptions associated with the effects of medical abortions.)

Event of January 1, 2000, reported September 27, 2000, one day before the approval of Mifeprex (RU-486): “I was issued RU-486 in effort of obtaining an abortion. I followed directions exactly, and after taking the ru-486, I was in excrutiating physical pain, for at least 12 hours straight and I was bleeding extremely excessively. I was bleeding through my pants but was in so much pain I couldn’t even clean myself. It was the worst physical pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. This extreme pain was constant the whole 12 hours, it did not let up at all the whole time. I vomited continuously but couldn’t even hold my head up. I had unbelievable abdominal pains, I can’t even put in words. I couldn’t speak, eat, drink, sit up, and had difficulty breathing. The only thing I could do was lie on the floor and pull my hair to deal with the pain. I couldn’t clean myself or go to the bathroom, I thought I was going to die. After about 7 hours of this, I really wanted to die because I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I wanted to call the hospital but I was hours from any hospital because I went to our cabin in a remote area to have privacy during this time. The administering clinic was closed since it was the weekend…. I was not informed of the extent of these side effects, I was told it would be just like a menstrual period. I never would have taken this had I been properly informed, even of the possibility of those effects…I was not told that this drug was experimental and not approved by the FDA…I believe they outright lied to me…when I returned to the clinic after the abortion was complete, they were not very attentive or interested in me, I explained to them my pains even though they didn’t ask me any questions. I filled out a questionairre that they gave me before I took the drug and they said I have to do the questionnaire ever couple hours during the abortion, but when I offered it to them upon return, they didn’t even want the questionaire, they didn’t take it.”(1)

Interestingly enough, Planned Parenthood wants to disperse this drug via telemedicine to women who live in rural areas, namely the ones who don’t have easy access to a doctor. However, in the personal account above, this woman was also hours away from a hospital, meaning that she had to experience these side effects alone - without the care of a physician. So, why then would it be a good idea for a doctor to administer this drug remotely without easy access to provide care for the woman who has these adverse side effects? Health care providers are NOT required to report these problems to the FDA, however, women who experience adverse side effects can report directly to the FDA.

The Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest has already expanded this telemedicine to Soldotna, Alaska, and they are looking to spread into other rural areas of the state. How far will this go until there are enough adverse reports to have this pill taken off the market? Until that day comes, please find out how you can help Inspire Life in your own community.

(1) Letter from David W. Boyer, Assistant Commissioner for Legislation, Food and Drug Administration, to Hon. Mark E. Souder, Chairman, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources (May 2, 2006) (on file with Subcommittee).

Kay Sanford is the Fundraising Manager for Donor Relations at Care Net.  She can be reached at ksanford@care-net.org.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take the REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers!


NARAL Pro-Choice America is continuing their old tactics of spreading false accusations about pregnancy centers. In fact, their latest gimic is a quiz being circulated on the Internet which specifically targets Care Net.

Find out the truth for yourself! Spend two minutes and take Care Net's "REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers" - then forward it to your contacts!

The best way to respond to this negativity is to initiate a postiive, pro-active communications strategy in your community. Help get out the truth by sharing the Inspire Life website with a friend or joining our conversation on Facebook.




LANSDOWNE, VA -- The following statement was released by Care Net in response to NARAL Pro-Choice America's anti-pregnancy center "quiz":

"Abortion advocacy groups like NARAL have been working hard this year to perpetuate the 'boogeyman' idea that the work of pregnancy centers is harming women," said Kristin Hansen, Care Net's Vice President of Communications. "Every day, there’s a new blog post, video, 'undercover report,' or now, here’s a flashy quiz to help build an email list and raise money. These scare tactics are riddled with false accusations and are meant to deter women from visiting pregnancy centers for help. That's why Care Net has released the 'REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers' to counter NARAL's negativity with the truth.

"If you take a closer look, you see that the negative information about pregnancy centers comes from the same people who are usually a staff person, volunteer, or member of an abortion advocacy group. The complaints do not come from actual clients, who regularly give high approval ratings of the pregnancy center they visited.

"As an affiliation group of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers, Care Net is proud of the amazing work of pregnancy centers that strive to serve individuals with excellence, integrity, and compassion. It’s hard, thankless, volunteer work, but incredibly rewarding and life-giving. Those serving in pregnancy centers should be thanked and supported.

"Despite these ongoing attacks from NARAL, a growing number of people are getting excited about the compassionate work of pregnancy centers. Care Net sees wonderful doors opening this year as more community leaders are stepping up to open new pregnancy centers in cities where there are few or none. Every day, someone’s heart is touched with the vision of reaching out to women facing unplanned pregnancies with practical help and emotional support. There's no new mean-spirited quiz or negative campaign that can prevent the growth of this positive movement in the hearts of volunteers across America."

Kristin Hansen is Vice President of Communications at Care Net.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Younger Generations – We Are More Pro-Life Than Ever Before


There have been a number of articles published recently stating that the younger generations are more pro-life than previous generations. In fact, the very face of the pro-life movement is becoming younger and younger. LifeSiteNews.com’s article, NARAL’s President Admits: Pro-Aborts Aging; Pro-Lifers Young and Zealous, explores this change and features three young pro-life leaders.

After years of listening to angry rhetoric, younger Americans are turning a deaf ear to mouth pieces that simply spout clichés, slogans and heated words. Instead, they are putting action to their beliefs and indeed doing their best to change the world, regardless of the issue.

As a member of this younger generation, my beliefs definitely influence how I decide to take action on how to make a change. Even before I was actively seeking God, I wanted to go about things in a positive, friendly and encouraging way. Are there still people in my generation who would prefer to make a change by holding signs and protesting for everyone to see? Sure. But from my experience, most of the people I know are moving in a direction of “behind the scenes” work in order to make a difference. We want to be involved in a way that is productive and allows us to “get our hands dirty” and see a change in the movements we feel passionate about. It is important for us to see the difference that we are making.

What have been your observations of the younger generation’s actions? Are they consistent with my experiences? You can also read Kay Sanford’s post for more reasons why my generation is more pro-life.

The message of love and hope offered by pregnancy centers correlates to the undercurrent of change this generation is seeking. This group of dedicated, compassionate people put their beliefs into action by providing practical help to those in need. Whether you agree or disagree with the beliefs of pregnancy center workers, one thing is for sure – these people take their work seriously by avoiding the anger of the past and focusing on tangible ways to impact the women in their community.

Kim Rice is Program Specialist for the Center for Organizational Excellence at Care Net. Kim can be reached at krice@care-net.org.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chilli: 'I cried almost every day for almost 9 years after my abortion'


A friend and pregnancy center leader from Pennsylvania sent me this clip this morning from VH1's "What Chilli Wants" show. Chilli, an R&B/Hip-Hop singer originally from the girl group TLC, shares with a therapist on national TV about the regret and impact of a past abortion.

I was struck by Chilli's comments about how she felt that choosing abortion was not a position of strength as a woman and that she felt that she had compromised who she really was.

I was so sad to hear that she had "cried almost every day for almost nine years." Wow. Do you think that women know that this is how they may feel on the other side of an abortion?

At Care Net pregnancy centers, women are informed that there is a potential of significant negative emotional effects after an abortion. Women deserve to know! Would you like to be a part of providing emotional support and critical information to women at a local pregnancy center? Find out how you can get involved by visiting the Inspire Life website.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Paralegal Goes to Washington!


I was thrilled to be invited to a briefing hosted by the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus to celebrate Mother’s Day by honoring the work of pregnancy centers across the nation. As an adoptee, mother of three, and a long-time pro-life advocate, I relish these rare opportunities to see my passions shared and expressed by elected officials in Washington, D.C.  And, this event definitely did not disappoint!

Source: The Architect of the Capitol

As I walked the hallowed halls of the Cannon House Office Building for the first time, I pondered the activities of the representatives as I passed the marked doors. Texas … Oklahoma … California (my home state) …and I finally arrived at room 210.

I entered to find a small (for that building) committee meeting room. Several large tables formed a rectangle surrounded by chairs on all sides. In the center of the room stood a small podium and an overhead projector screen. The décor was “modern meets conservative” - large flat screen TV’s intermixed with solemn paintings of historic famous congressmen.

Approximately 25 people were in attendance. There were men and women of various ages and backgrounds, some in suits and others more casually attired. Some were furiously taking notes while others were multi-tasking by texting on their Blackberries.

Representatives Joe Pitts (R – Pennsylvania) and Michelle Bachmann, (R – Michigan) were the the featured speakers. This was my third opportunity to hear Ms. Bachmann speak regarding her passions, and I found her yet again to be articulate and energetic. She praised pregnancy centers for lovingly serving women in their communities.

Speakers included those from national pro-life groups: Care Net, NIFLA, and Heartbeat International, along with representatives from Option Line, pregnancy centers, and a maternity home. They spoke to the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus staff members and other attendees on the impact that life-affirming ministries throughout the country are making on reducing abortion and serving women during their time of deepest need. For complete details on the topics covered during this briefing, visit the Care Net website

Melissa Macy is a paralegal at Care Net.  She can be reached at mmacy@care-net.org.  

Monday, May 3, 2010

Planned Parenthood to Open Largest U.S. Facility in Houston


“A plan you can love with” is a slogan that may be suitable for a life insurance policy designed to provide for your children. However, it’s actually the slogan for Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, a 21 million dollar organization that reportedly performed 8,200 abortions last year. This week, they will move into their new 78,000 square foot building, which is the largest Planned Parenthood facility in the U.S.

Opening May 11th, the new facility will enable Planned Parenthood to greatly expand their ability to perform abortions, even up to 25 weeks, according to Houston Coalition for Life. (Planned Parenthood claims that they will only perform them up to 20 weeks as part of their “compassionate healthcare” services.) This new facility also happens to be conveniently adjacent to the University of Houston.

Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde said, “We must lift up the city of Houston in prayer. Please pray that, despite this new facility, abortions would decrease in the surrounding areas. Pray for the pregnancy centers in Houston. There are many Care Net pregnancy centers there that are strong but need your support. Pray that, despite this well-funded and prominent facility, a culture of life would flourish in this city.”

Kristin Hansen is Vice President of Communications at Care Net. She can be reached at khansen@care-net.org.

Canada: Abortion Doesn't Equal Maternal and Child Health; Sec. Clinton Disagrees


Something good is afoot in Canada. On Monday, April 27th, Canadian government leaders announced that funding abortion would not be a component of the country's agenda for improving maternal and child health at the upcoming G8 summit on global development.

The announcement flies in the face of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's advocacy on the matter at a pre-summit meeting in March:

"You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion," said Secretary Clinton in response to questions about the U.S. position on the matter.

The announcement on April 27th was made by Canada's International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda:

"Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may involve various interventions, including family planning, which includes the use of contraceptive methods,” said Oda, who heads the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), according to the Toronto Star. “The details remain to be determined; however, Canada’s contribution will not include funding of abortions.”

While that's great news, let it be known that Canada has funded International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) since the mid-1980s, according to the Toronto Star. IPPF is involved in promoting and performing abortion around the globe. So, consider the move by Canada only a first step, but by no means a "baby step" for Canada.

Also of note, Canada chose to make the announcement side-by-side with U.S. leaders in an attempt to smooth over their differences. Minister Oda was joined by Rajiv Shaw, chief administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. At the press conference Shaw spoke out about the need for "safe abortion" but claimed that the U.S. and Canada were not at odds on abortion and global aid. (Isn't it interesting when leaders can say one thing and do another?)

Washington Post columnist and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, calls Secretary of State Clinton's advocacy an "abortion grenade" that threatens the bi-partisan, U.S. coalition on global development which has successfully come together to help combat diseases like AIDS and malaria, without promoting abortion. In his words, her pro-abortion advocacy is not only an affront to countries taking a pro-life stand, it also risks our national consensus on global aid. If that's lost, so may be the critical, life-saving support for hurting countries, particularly in Africa.

But let's celebrate the good news in Canada. The fact that their government leaders had the political will to come to this pro-life decision reflects the growing culture of life that is not only taking hold in the U.S. but across North America. While many factors contribute to these changes, we know that the compassionate work of pregnancy centers across Canada plays an integral role.

There are 70 pregnancy centers ("centres" in Canada) that are affiliated with Care Net, as well as our "sister" organization, the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS). CAPPS held their national conference this past week and Care Net's own Jeanneane Maxon was there, teaching some workshops on best practices. Keep their work in your prayers, as well as those in the Canadian government who are taking a courageous stand for life.

Kristin Hansen is Vice President of Communications at Care Net. She can be reached at khansen@care-net.org.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Protecting the Right to Life of Those with Intellectual Disabilities


Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently amended the state’s FY2011-2012 budget to exclude tax-payer funded elective abortions for low-income residents. This has sparked a furor within the pro-choice community, in particular, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Life News reports that “the group suggests the Virginia governor should support ‘a small, but significant group of women who seek abortion care due to fetal abnormality’ and it claimed McDonnell is attempting ‘to curb access to care for women.’” The types of fetal abnormalities for which a woman might procure an elective abortion include a wide swath of disabilities, among them Down Syndrome.

This proposed amendment and the debate surrounding it brought to mind a blog post published in the New York Times a few months back, in which the mother of two young boys with Down Syndrome wrote compellingly of their inherent value as human beings and the important contribution the boys make to their family and society, not in spite of their disability, but precisely because of it.

The article is a poignant reminder that in seeking to eliminate any aberration from the norm through prenatal screening and elective abortion not only are women and families hurt, but society as a whole loses the gift of a unique and very precious life. It is true that abortion immediately hurts those intimately involved – mother, father, baby and extended family, but any abortion, and in this case abortions of those with intellectual disabilities, also deprives the world of a special group of people who play a key role “in creating a more humane, compassionate, and hospitable society…[and] as a society, we need what people with intellectual disabilities have to offer.”

Elise Pino is Center Services Manager at Care Net. She can be reached at epino@care-net.org.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Inspiring Life Through Weakness


Who among you is strong? In our world, strength is valued highly, as it should be. It’s the football player who wins the awards, the soldiers who get parades, and the marathon runners, cancer survivors, and Nobel winners that gain glory.

But Biblically, who does God, our Creator, consistently choose to do his work? The midget tax collector, the blind, the meek, the poor, the lame, the prostitutes, and the liars, and you and me. He chose Moses, the stutterer, David, the little brother no one respected, and Rahab, the prostitute. As a man, Jesus spent his days among lepers, the sick, the lame and the dying. So what does this mean for you and me?

Pay it forward! When you’re down, help someone else up. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others. Reach out and touch someone. Each of these phrases has been said by countless people as they help someone in need. Whether taking a meal to a sick friend, mowing the lawn of an elderly neighbor, running an errand for someone without a car, or praying for a friend in need. Each time we choose to help someone else it seems that we, in turn, help ourselves.

Each of us knows the feeling you get when someone says, “Thank you! No one has ever done that for me”, or “I really needed a friend and you were there. You’re the best!” We immediately feel a lift in our own spirits, a hop appears in our step, and our day looks a little bit brighter.

It would seem that when we are at our weakest, we act stronger. It is when we are in the midst of tragedy that our hero selves come out.

Just a few months ago, our eyes were glued to the TV screen after the earthquake practically destroyed Haiti, watching and cheering the countless workers, volunteers, doctors, and locals who continued to defy all odds to bring aid, water, and hope to that nation and its people. For me, emotions ran high as I watched Haitians, deprived themselves of life’s most basic dignities, put aside their own needs to work late into the night searching for the any sign of life in the rubble and sharing meager rations with a neighbor now sharing a home in a makeshift tent. It is indeed true that most often, it is those most injured, most troubled, most lost who are able to just do good! When we are weak we quickly begin to realize that we are not the proverbial hands reaching into the mire to save those lower and less fortunate than ourselves, but rather that we are fellow strugglers who are lifting our hands to help those around us, to bring hope, and to inspire life!

My son, Micah, a Pediatric ICU nurse recently sent me this story:

It is somewhat odd to find joy at a funeral…yet here I sit, tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. Around me the mourners sit, gathered to pay tribute to an angel named Gracie. Gracie was 2 years old, and 16 of the 24 months of her life were spent in the ICU, yet around me is a crowd of people who Gracie blessed.

I took care of Gracie for several months, on two separate occasions. I saw her at the brink of death more that once, squeezing life back into her heart late one night. I held her through her opiate withdrawals after a month of sedation. I pulled the breathing tube from her lungs as she stopped breathing, and I held her momma’s hand as she passed from this life into the arms of our Daddy Jesus.

And here I sit, at her funeral, seeing the hundreds of lives that she touched in her 2 short years. I see people who took strength from her struggle, joy from her smile, and hope from her shimmering, larger than life baby blue eyes. And I stand at her coffin humbled by the blessing she brought in her tiny broken body!

She taught me this: When we hurt the most, when this world threatens to overtake us with its heaviness, IN THAT MOMENT is our greatest chance to truly love those who hurt around us, for only in that pit of despair can we understand. Gracie inspired so many because during her short life she was able to smile and laugh, even with a literally broken heart. Can we not, within our feeble trials and tribulations, do the same?
And so I ask myself the same question, can we not do the same through our own pain and suffering, shortfalls and failures? How is that you and I can turn our weaknesses to helping someone else become stronger? Could you sit and listen to a lonely old man in a nursing home? Perhaps you could walk into the soup kitchen instead of past it and serve a meal. Inspire life by sharing a bit of your own story with someone in need, young women in a crisis pregnancy, a father whose girlfriend aborted his child, a mother stressed out about the lifestyle choice her daughter is making.

Strength does come from weakness as we begin to realize in helping others that there, but by the grace of God, go we! The hurt, the dying, the confused, and the rebellious all yearn for the love of God displayed in your hands rocking them to sleep, in your feet walking with them through loss, in your words that lead to forgiveness and hope, and in your own tears, silence and laughter. And in doing so, I would imagine that your trials take a back seat, your backs stand a little straighter, and your hearts beat a little stronger. And we perhaps begin to realize, it’s not about “me,” but about “we!”

Terry Williams is the Care Net Regional Consultant for Texas and Executive Director of Central Texas LifeCare in San Marcos. She has been involved in pregnancy center ministry since 1991. Terry can be reached at terrywilliams@centurytel.net.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why are Young Americans More Pro-Life? Just Ask Them.


The news is out. A recent Gallup poll shows that young Americans age 18-29 are more strongly pro-life than polls showed in past years. This same poll in the mid 1970’s showed the same age bracket as one of the most supportive of abortion in all circumstances.

While pondering these findings, I found myself ecstatic! And then I asked the all important question of WHY? What is it that has changed these past 30 years to show a decrease in support of abortion?

One could look at the same findings for an elderly age bracket and say, “Well, as one gets older and finds himself in the care of others, the value of life takes on a whole new meaning.” But that’s not the case. This is the youngest age bracket polled.

So, I decided to conduct my own little poll of peers who fall into this age 18-29 category. What I found is not necessarily backed up by scientific statistics... yet, this is the authentic view from some people who actually fall into the “younger generation” category. It seemed only natural to go directly to the source in order to find out what really has changed the mindset of abortion since the mid 70’s. Here’s what they shared with me...

Many changes have occurred in our nation since the 70’s, but one drastic change has been seen with the technology of ultrasound. While ultrasound can be traced back to 1880 (the SONAR days), it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that computer software was merged with ultrasound technology. Since that time, we have seen vast improvements in image quality, as well as the introduction of 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds. By now, you can look at the screen and decipher whose nose, eyes, or even lips your baby has received. And, with the baby’s heart beginning to beat around week 5-6, ultrasound technology has shifted our culture to “seeing and hearing” the baby in person, instead of just hearing from the doctor where the baby is developmentally.

Another drastic change since the 70’s has been the introduction of the worldwide web, and in this specific case, we didn’t see mainstream public use until the 90’s. But in the past two decades alone, the internet has grown from something you heard about from your neighbor who happened to be a computer enthusiast, to something that, if you’re like me, you can’t live without. With today’s accessibility to internet through venues like the iPhone, you can look up any and all questions with instant answers - literally at your fingertips. That’s not to say that the answers will always be right, but there is a wealth of information out there to judge for yourself.

Finally, another shift since the 70’s is the presence of the Church. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times: “What the younger generation wants in the Church is authenticity.” They don’t want the truth to be sugar-coated, they just want the authentic truth. In the midst of that authentic truth is the topic of abortion. It’s no longer the third rail of ministry group discussions - it’s now such a widespread topic of conversation across our nation. More and more young people are speaking out about abortion, and the Church is starting to rise to the occasion through small groups and Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, just to name a few.

So what does all of this have to do with the Gallup poll? Well, it would seem evident that ultrasound is giving us more hard proof that there’s a baby inside and not just a clump of cells.. And it would seem evident that young people have more access to information at their fingertips, which only causes more hunger for more information. And it would seem evident that the Church is beginning to impact young people as the topic of abortion is more prevalent.

These answers weren’t shocking or surprising, but in fact they were comforting. That comfort was knowing that Care Net and the ministry of pregnancy centers are in the midst of all three of these answers. Whether it is ultrasound machines in our more than 1,190 pregnancy centers, internet ads for Option Line where answers and support can be found 24 hours a day, or an ever-growing compassionate outreach to meet these young women where they are, Care Net is present in the answers. There might still be a long road ahead, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Historic Pro-Life Victory in Virginia!


Every day, pregnancy centers across America celebrate when a woman is empowered to choose life for her unborn child. Today, in Virginia, pregnancy centers are witnessing a different type of victory. Care Net sent out the following press release in response to what has occured in the Virginia legislature over the last two months. We're thinking the news is kind of inspiring...


LANSDOWNE, VA – In just a few short weeks, pregnancy centers in Virginia have witnessed an historic victory in the 2010 state legislature. At the beginning of the session, abortion advocates launched an attack on these faith-based charities. The attacks consisted of an erroneous and biased report and discriminatory and unnecessary regulatory legislation. Less than two months later, not only had the hostile legislation been thrown out by its own sponsors, the entire legislature passed a resolution praising the work of Virginia pregnancy centers.

In the words of the Virginia Family Foundation, “What a difference a few weeks – and the truth – makes.”

Just one week after the legislation against pregnancy centers was introduced, it was dismissed in both House and Senate subcommittees after legislators heard testimony from pregnancy centers directors, former center clients, medical staff, Care Net, the Family Foundation and Virginia Catholic Conference. A few weeks later, pregnancy centers held a day at the state capitol where staff and volunteers came to further educate legislators about their organizations’ work. Thanks to the ongoing support of the Family Foundation and Americans United for Life, a resolution praising pregnancy centers was introduced in March and passed in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate this week.

Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde joined Virginia legislators in praising the work of pregnancy centers. “We are so proud of Virginia pregnancy centers for this recognition and their decades of humble service to women in this state. It’s not a surprise to Care Net that when people hear the truth about the good work you do, they want to praise you.”

A sample “Joint Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Centers” is available in American United for Life’s 2010 Model Legislation & Policy Guide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inspiring Pregnancy Centers, Despite Ongoing Attacks


Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde posted today on the PCCList blog about the ongoing attacks on pregnancy centers. She first addresses the issue of undercover fake clients being sent into pregnancy centers by abortion advocacy groups:

"In general, the fake clients that enter pregnancy centers do so with the specific objective of claiming they were mistreated in some way. In other words, they are going to accuse the center of mistreatment regardless of how professional and legally compliant the center is. These are not objective measures of pregnancy center professionalism."
She speaks directly to centers, encouraging them to be on guard, to employ best practices, but ultimately not to be fearful:

"Pregnancy centers are wise to anticipate these attacks but not to be fearful of them -- what is meant for harm, can be used for good. The best way to prepare is first to ensure that your center is serving with excellence, from the moment that woman calls or visits your website to the moment she leaves."
She also encourages pregnancy centers to engage in pro-active outreach to leaders in places of influence - ensuring that they, not NARAL, are the first to introduce their ministry to such individuals:

"...we encourage centers to make it a point to introduce their ministry to leaders in their community -- not just church leaders, but city council members, newspaper editorialists, state legislators, and others in places of influence."
Would you like to become a pregnancy center advocate in your community? One of the best tools for educating others about pregnancy centers is the new national report, "A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life." Download or purchase a copy and share with friends and leaders you know.

For the full blog post, visit the PCCList blog, a news service of Baptists for Life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let Freedom Ring!


By Lorey Carter

Most of us are familiar with this phrase because of its use during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. We hear a lot about the civil rights movement during Black History Month, justifiably so. After all, it was a pivotal time in this nation and although it was a very painful time, it resulted in a long overdue change in the way black folks were to be valued and treated as American citizens. It was the next major step toward realizing what the U.S. Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Unfortunately, while segregation laws were disbanded, racism and discrimination did not end with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It still goes on today in various forms. We see discrimination today most visibly in the criminal justice system. For example, data collected from state courts by the Justice Department shows that a higher percentage of black felons than white felons receive prison sentences for nearly all offenses, and also that blacks receive longer maximum sentences for most offenses. One has only to speculate why African Americans make up 12% of the population, yet they make up 38% of those incarcerated in state or federal prisons. In addition, 10.4% of all black males in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison, compared to 2.4% of Hispanic males and 1.3% of white males (Bureau of Justice Statistics).

I recently saw a movie entitled “American Violet” based on a true story which illustrates how racism factors into arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations resulting in injustice and disparate impacts on the African American community.

I have witnessed first hand racial discrimination and it troubles me greatly. I once worked as a law clerk for the public defender’s office and heard attorneys make racial slurs about their own clients. I’ve been pulled over in a car for “DWB” (driving while black) only to be released when there was nothing to cite me for. I would never minimize the importance of drawing attention and fighting to end this injustice against the black community.

However, I also see racism and discrimination carried out today in another form that is even more insidious than what we see in the criminal justice system. Many of the targeted victims of this discrimination have been indoctrinated to be willing accomplices in their own exploitation. I’m yearning for the day when as many African Americans are willing to draw attention to and fight to end this discrimination against the black community as they are the discrimination in the criminal justice system. I’m talking about abortion. I’m talking about a history of reproductive discrimination instigated by eugenicists and carried out by Planned Parenthood and others who believed that African Americans were a threat to society and therefore set in motion a plan to prevent or discourage us from reproducing.

There is traceable evidence exposed in a new documentary entitled “MAAFA21” proving that African American women have been systematically targeted and have been offered the “choice” to abort, initially through coercion and later through insistence that the opportunity to abort is a civil right.

According to the propaganda exposed in Maafa21, to be denied the opportunity to abort amounts to denial of a woman’s reproductive freedom. Today, we have the targeted victims (African American women) embracing this ideology and many are demanding their “right” to abort.

The opportunity to abort one’s child is not a civil right. It is not an expression of a woman’s reproductive freedom. It is participation in exploitation of the woman and her unborn child. This form of discrimination is so insidious and even more damaging than racism in the criminal justice system because one of the victims (the baby) is dead and the other victim often believes that her abortion was a good thing. That is heartbreaking.

Sadly, the percentages which denote the disparities seen in the criminal justice system as a result of discrimination (12% of the population is African American and 38% of those are incarcerated) is tragically similar to the disparities seen in abortion where African American women make up 12% of the female population, but have 37% of the abortions (Alan Guttmacher Institute).

Thankfully, this tragedy is not going totally unnoticed.

There are a growing number of African American leaders, including pastors who are beginning to sound the alarm in our community exposing the truth about the impact of abortion and how it is threatening our legacy as a people. I have the pleasure of working directly along side of some of these leaders in Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia and Detroit to reach African American communities that have some of the highest abortion rates in the country. Care Net is committed to partnering with these leaders to develop pregnancy centers in these underserved communities so that African American women facing unplanned pregnancies will not be solely surrounded by abortion providers, but will have access to practical support as they make life-affirming decisions about their pregnancy. And for those women who have already experienced abortion, these centers will also provide recovery counseling to them.

The word is getting out via the media as well. A recent billboard ad campaign “Black Children Are An Endangered Species” in Atlanta last month is generating awareness and getting national media attention. This provocative billboard leads you to the website, Toomanyaborted.com, which gives the facts about the impact of abortion on African Americans in a powerfully compelling way. The creator of the website and campaign is Ryan Bomberger, a very talented African American designer, who has partnered with Georgia Right to Life. ABC News recently interviewed Catherine Davis from Georgia Right to Life and Bomberger about the stir caused by this campaign.

Bomberger will be partnering with Care Net in the near future and will be sharing his marketing expertise with our affiliates during our national conference in September. I’m looking forward to seeing him inspire our affiliates to be more effective in communicating the message in the communities where they serve.

I’m honored to work with anyone committed to standing in the gap for life. But as an African American woman, I am encouraged by the emergence of more and more African Americans joining in. For me, for Care Net, and the African American leaders I’ve met, this is not a political issue. It is a life issue. It is a moral issue. It is the essence of social justice. In decades to come, when Black History is told, we will know that we did what we could to preserve future generations because we actually believed these truths to be to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that will be the kind of Black History that we can all live with.

Lorey Carter is Director of Underserved Outreach at Care Net. She can be reached at lcarter@care-net.org.

Monday, February 15, 2010

“Unborn” Music Video Communicates the Duality of an Unplanned Pregnancy


By Elise Pino

Caitlin Jane’s exquisitely executed music video for her song “Unborn” gently communicates the duality of an unplanned pregnancy, reminding its viewers that two uniquely intertwined lives are at stake.

As the video unfolds the viewer experiences the uncertainty, anguish and ultimate joy of a young, single mother wrestling with the decision of whether or not to continue her unplanned pregnancy.

In listening to the song’s lyrics, however, one is drawn into the heart and mind of the young woman’s unborn child, lovingly calling out to her mother and asking for a chance to be born and to experience life outside the womb.

Ultimately, Jane’s music video serves as a poignant reminder of the two precious lives impacted by the decision to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term. “Unborn’s” lyrics echo the loving message communicated on a daily basis in pregnancy centers across the country, “God makes no mistakes; both [mom and baby] are wonderfully, fearfully made.”

Elise Pino is Center Services Manager at Care Net and can be reached at epino@care-net.org.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Abstinence Education Wrongly Blamed for Teen Pregnancy Rate Increase


By Toneia Mayes

In response to an article in The New York Times entitled, “After Long Decline, Teenage Pregnancy Rate Rises,” it is apparent that there are a few matters on this issue of abstinence education that need to be brought to light. The article implies that there may be a correlation between funding abstinence education and a 3% increase in teen pregnancy rates from 2005 to 2006.

This article states:

“While it is difficult to pinpoint precisely how different factors influence teenage sexual behavior, some experts speculate that the rise in teenage pregnancy might be partly attributable to the $150 million a year of federal financing for sex education that emphasized abstinence until marriage, avoiding all mention of the possible benefits of contraception.”
This statement is false. While it is true that most Abstinence Education (ABED) programs do not actively promote or encourage condom use, they do discuss condoms and give accurate statistics. Most programs discuss condoms while highlighting their limitations, but they do site that condoms are 85% successful at preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly 100% of the time. ABED students will never hear an educator try to convince them not to use a condom; however, they will explain that the only 100% effective way to avoid not only pregnancy but also STD's and emotional consequences is sexual abstinence.

To contrast the two approaches to sex education, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSED) focuses on risk reduction via condom use or limiting the number of sexual partners. ABED focuses on the value of abstinence while extensively citing the risk of sexual activity at a young age with or without a condom.

And the debate over these two approaches just got much more interesting.

In a study released Monday, February 01, 2010 by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, abstinence education has been validated as effective. The study states: “…a high risk population of 6 and 7th graders receiving abstinence centered education reduced sexual initiation, reduced the number of sexual partners (a crucial determinant in acquiring an STD) and further showed that abstinence instruction did not deter the use of condoms (a common charge brought by anti-abstinence critics).” Read more about this ground-breaking study at the National Abstinence Education Association website.

To take away the abstinence message from our youth because "some experts speculate that the rise in teenage pregnancy might be partly attributable to (that message) ..." is saying that our teens do not have a right to make an informed decision because of a speculation.

To imply that teens do not need to hear the benefits of remaining abstinent until marriage is to imply that condom use is somehow our teens best or only option and that is just not true.

With sexually experienced teens themselves saying that they wish they would have waited (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003), it seems that one of the best things we can do to meet their need is to teach them skills in decision making and help them deal with peer pressure to engage in sex.

Toneia Mayes is a Care Net Regional Consultant and a consultant for Community Based Abstinence Education grants. She can be reached at toneia@cox.net. For more information on the effectiveness of abstinence education, visit the Institute of Research and Evaluation website.