Moms and babies came together at the U.S. Capitol the week of May 12 to share their inspiring stories of pregnancy help with federal lawmakers.
Three sets of mothers and their children who have been served by U.S. pregnancy help organizations were set to meet with Members of Congress and their staff Thursday as part of Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress initiative.
Heartbeat is the largest network of pregnancy help in the U.S. and globally. Its Babies Go to Congress effort has taken groups of pregnancy help organizations and the families they serve to Washington D.C. for more than a decade.
“Since 2009, we've taken almost 200 moms and babies to nearly 400 offices with the encouraging message that pregnancy centers are Great for America!” said Andrea Trudden, vice president of Communications and Marketing for Heartbeat International.
The current Dobbs case portends the possible overturn of the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion in the U.S. throughout pregnancy. But should Roe be struck down, legalized abortion will not end, rather, the issue will pass back to the states, and the need for pregnancy help will not abate.
Having provided services and support to women and families to a significant degree all along, some prior to Roe, pregnancy help organizations will continue to be there for women no matter the Dobbs outcome.
The latest data from the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows that the estimated 3,000 pregnancy centers in the U.S. served almost two million people in 2019, at an estimated total value of services and material assistance of almost $270 million.
Heartbeat continues to work to establish pregnancy help in underserved areas of the U.S. through its Life Launch Grant Program, with Life Launch centers established in 18 U.S. states.
Even with the longevity, pervasiveness, and commitment of the pregnancy help community, there’re never too much support, and additional awareness is needed, at the grassroots level and with lawmakers, hence the Babies Go to Congress effort.
“Many people in the nation, including politicians, are not fully aware of the resources available to pregnant women in need,” Trudden said. “Heartbeat's Babies Go to Congress gives women a chance to share with their lawmakers the compassionate care and support they received within their hometown from their local pregnancy help organization.”
“We bring the proof of pregnancy help to Capitol Hill through these little smiles,” she said.
Zayda and Delia Jo
When Zayda found out she was pregnant she was only 14 years old and very scared. With the help of her grandmother, they found the Reliance Center pregnancy help medical clinic.
“When I went to Reliance, I was really nervous,” Zayda said. “But they were all so kind.”
After her pregnancy was confirmed, Zayda knew her life would never be the same, and she worried about telling her boyfriend and parents.
Zayda had support from her parents, the baby’s father, and from the Reliance Center.
Her daughter Delia is 2 years old now and Zayda can’t imagine her life without her. She credits the Reliance Center for assisting her and the baby’s father.
“Reliance made my whole pregnancy easier and helped me see the value of my life and my baby’s life,” Zayda said.
Ruth and Victor
In 2013, Ruth was referred for an abortion by one of her specialty doctors. Ruth visited another specialist who referred her to the Pregnancy Care Center.
Ruth came to the center scared, confused, and unsure of what would occur during an abortion.
She wondered “why would my doctor tell me to have an abortion if it isn’t the best thing to do?”
Pregnancy Care Center staff worked to get Ruth the information she needed to make an informed decision.
Ruth chose life for her baby boy and named him “Victor.” Today Victor is eight years old, has a younger brother, and both Victor and Ruth advocate for the work of the Pregnancy Care Center.
At the center’s 2020 banquet, Victor made a personal appearance, sharing that his mom had a scary time when he was in her tummy - but she came to the Pregnancy Care Center and the people there helped her.
Manuela and Oliver
When Manuela and her boyfriend discovered they were expecting a baby, they didn’t know what to do.
In the rush of emotion, they thought they had to have an abortion.
After Manuela started a chemical abortion, she and her boyfriend had immediate regret.
Manuela went online looking for a way to reverse the effects of the abortion pill and found Crossroads Pregnancy Center through the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN).
The pregnancy help center confirmed that her baby still had a heartbeat and helped them to begin the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol.
“And it worked,” Manuela said. “And Oliver’s here with us and we couldn’t be happier.”
Each of these moms and their children were willing to share their remarkable stories with Senators and Representatives from Congress in hopes of furthering pregnancy help for the benefit of others.
“Our elected representatives need to know and understand the amazing pregnancy help work their own constituents are doing, and also receiving,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. “Politicians in Washington D.C. need to understand the stories of help and hope that happen every day in pregnancy help efforts around the country.”
“The moms and babies, themselves, tell their story and represent the truth of our life-affirming mission,” he said.
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Christa Brown, BSN, RN, Heartbeat’s director of Medical Impact, agreed.
Brown oversees the daily operations of the hotline for the APRN, managed by Heartbeat International. She was among those to accompany the moms and babies this year on Capitol Hill.
“It's important that our elected officials understand the challenges their constituents are facing and the local help available to them,” Brown said. “Every day in pregnancy help centers across the United States, women's voices are heard, their concerns are validated, and needed resources are provided.”
“We are honored to share with members of Congress about this vital work,” she said.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International Manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.