A pregnancy center saved her life; now she’s a director and has joined the legal fight to defend pregnancy help

A pregnancy center saved her life; now she’s a director and has joined the legal fight to defend pregnancy help (Sora Shimazaki)

Jean Marie Davis only knew abuse. As an infant and for the following almost three decades, sexual exploitation enveloped her life. However, she found a pregnancy resource center that she credits for saving her life.

Davis shared her story in an op-ed article recently published in The Hill.

From age 2 to 29, I was trafficked in 33 states,” the column reads. “I suffered serial abuse, rape and even murder attempts by various pimps. I was heavily addicted to hard drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine. I eventually reached a point where I intentionally sought to end my life by overdosing.

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Upon discovering she was pregnant; Davis said her pimp attempted to kill her. She escaped with little money and no place to stay.

Pregnant, terrified and with nowhere to go, I literally ran away from the only life I had ever known. Fighting despair, and with only $1.38 to my name, I had very few places to turn. 

Davis finally connected with a woman at a domestic violence shelter in New Hampshire.

She flew me there and connected me with a local pregnancy center, where a woman named Phyllis changed everything. 

She also shared her story on Fox News, saying, “I was abortion-minded at the time.”

Davis not only received services at the center and learned of resources in the community, but she also learned about the unconditional love of Christ. The compassion she received from Phyllis and the knowledge and understanding that God loved her no matter what was in her past became the life-line Davis needed and clung to. She acknowledged her heart was “hardened,” but that changed at the pregnancy center, and she was “…filled … with an encouragement and hope that I’d never known before.” 

Davis gave birth to a boy, and her entire life changed.

The pregnancy center provided me with free resources and support to take care of my son. I was also able to realize and pursue dreams I had never imagined, such as earning a college degree. I worked with families at the pregnancy center and secured a job at a local hospital. 

She now serves as the executive director of Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in Vermont, the first African American to hold such a position in the state. 

In her opinion piece in The Hill, Davis wrote:

If it hadn’t been for Phyllis and the pregnancy center, I would be dead. They saved my life. My son saved my life. Now, it’s my turn to defend the very cause that saved me.  

She also told the Fox News host, “Now I do the same thing – I help women who are trafficked or going through unplanned pregnancies.”

However, that work is being threatened.

Vermont targets pregnancy resource centers

Branches is one of two Vermont pregnancy resource centers suing the state over a law passed earlier this year that targets pregnancy resource centers. 

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) joined the lawsuit as well, and attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are representing NIFLA and the pregnancy centers. The lawsuit contends Vermont government officials are “unconstitutionally restricting the centers’ speech and provision of services,” according to ADF.

Tweet This: Vermont government officials are “unconstitutionally restricting the centers’ speech and provision of services.”

In May, Vermont governor Phil Scott signed a bill, SB 37, into law. The measure targets pro-life pregnancy resource centers, including those which provide medical services. The law brands centers like Branches as “limited-services pregnancy centers” and aims to fight what the state says is “false and misleading advertising about services” by pregnancy centers.

In her op-ed piece, Davis states, “Vermont wants to shut down pregnancy help centers because we don’t support the state’s extreme abortion agenda.”

She provided an example, and a reason for the lawsuit:

The law also bars our staff members who are not state-licensed medical professionals from handing out health-related information. But the law applies only to pro-life pregnancy centers in the state. Abortion businesses’ non-licensed staff members can still pass out brochures about abortion, but our staff members cannot.  

According to ADF, “The law censors the centers’ ability to advertise their services. It also precludes the ability of centers to offer even non-medical services, information, and counseling unless provided by a licensed health care provider.”

The organization also stated on its website:

The law is vague and explicitly targets pro-life pregnancy centers, applying only to facilities that do not perform or refer for abortions. It does not define what might violate the law and provides no guidance as to how that standard should be applied. For example, one witness during a legislative hearing suggested that even naming a pregnancy center “The Women’s Center” could violate the law, claiming that a name like that is too neutral and implies it offers abortions.

If a pregnancy center were to advertise its services in a way Vermont’s pro-abortion attorney general says is “misleading,” the center would face fines of up to $10,000 for each violation. And if an individual who is not a state-licensed medical professional were to provide health information, services, or counseling, the medical doctors (M.D.s) at that facility could be fined up to $1,000, and other licensed health-care professionals could be fined up to $5,000.

It’s clear that Vermont is explicitly targeting pro-life pregnancy centers, all because they don’t support the state’s extreme pro-abortion agenda. 

Life-saving work in more ways than one

Davis told the Fox News host she “would be dead” if she had not gone to a pregnancy center and if the Vermont law had been in place at that time in the state where she received hope and help. 

“I would have been dead nine years ago if this law had been in place,” she said.

She also stated Branches helps people who are in the situation she once was in.

“We have a program in place for women, children, and men who are being trafficked,” Davis said. “Knowing that the government is trying to steer women away from a true opportunity to have a choice of deciding – I was given that choice. Not only that, but I was given the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ. My life has changed. There’s such freedom to be able to raise my son and not have to worry about the pimp or the people that did things to me, knowing that my son is safe and I’m safe. That’s what we at Branches do – to provide safety and help for the women and children that need it.”

Davis wants her story to demonstrate the truth about pregnancy resource centers, that these organizations provide “real help” and that they have the right to exist and not be censored. In The Hill op-ed piece, she wrote:

Our work powerfully shows that there is real help for men, women and children in need who are caught in impossible snares and feel there is no hope — whether it’s human trafficking, homelessness, abuse or abortion. Pregnancy centers like Branches exist to provide for them.

The hateful narratives that smear pro-life pregnancy centers would have some believe that I fell “victim” to their work. On the contrary, because of their work, I was set free. 


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