In celebration of Option Line’s 20th anniversary, here is some insight into the work of an Option Line Consultant, why they do the work they do and a close-up look into their work.
Option Line has a toll-free number accompanied by the website OptionLine.org and is a 24/7 contact center helping women regardless of geographical location, get in contact with their local pregnancy help organization. Option Line operates 365 days a year. The bilingual contact center connects people to over 3,000 pregnancy help organizations globally, which equates to Option Line connecting someone to pregnancy help every 76 seconds, crucial when a pregnancy and lives hang in the balance.
Heartbeat Vice President of Mission Advancement Cindy Boston quantified the impact that Option Line has.
“Option Line is the only fully staffed, bilingual pro-life contact center in the U.S. Since we first answered the call,” Boston said. “We’ve reached over 5 million women and men, many of whom are desperate for answers in an unexpected pregnancy.”
Option Line hit its 20-year anniversary this year and looking back, there is much to celebrate.
In the beginning Option Line calls averaged 3,000 per month. Now, that number has grown to over 34,000 connects per month. Over 1,100 people reach out to Option Line daily, via email, live chat, phone calls, and texting. And these numbers will only continue to grow.
Option Line Director Nafisa Kennedy explained how each connect represents a human story.
“Each hotline interaction is an opportunity to serve a unique person, with unique circumstances, with a message of hope and life,” she said.
Option Line consultant Petra concurred.
“The work and mission of our movements are very human responses to very human problems,” she said. “The situations and pressures that lead women to get abortions are not ever going to be completely eradicated, but that doesn’t mean we stop our progress toward that goal.”
Not just anyone could accomplish this incredible work, and certainly not without proper training. There are four stages of training for Option Line Consultants as listed below:
Step 1: Initial Onboarding course
24 hours of study, video training
5 hours shadowing seasoned consultants
13 written assessments, 90% minimum score required to pass
Practice role-play with seasoned consultants
The final exam & test call series must be passed to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Answer hotline calls
First 40 hours new consultants are coached
One-on-one coaching with additional hours as an option
Step 3: Ongoing education
Monthly ongoing education to be completed on a monthly basis
Refreshing on information
Staying up to date on changes in abortion regulations
Volunteer in bi-monthly peer learning opportunities
Step 4: Each member is regularly evaluated for the following:
Adherence to protocol; empathy; successful connection to pregnancy help organizations; complete contact logs.
Developmental plans are implemented to provide one-on-one education and role-play opportunities to any struggling team members.
It takes up to a month for an Option Line Consultant to be considered fully trained.
Option Line consultants have been available nonstop since 2003. That is more than 175,330 hours.
Kennedy elaborated beautifully on this in a reflection for Pregnancy Help News earlier this year:
“As a project of Heartbeat International, the world’s largest network of pregnancy help, Option Line holds its Commitment of Care and Competence, a pregnancy help industry standard, along with contact center industry standards at the forefront, and works tirelessly to ensure that our consultants provide professional, compassionate support and service while connecting women in need with dedicated, professional pregnancy help organizations.”
The training is very detailed, with specific focus on human connection and empathetic connection for every person calling in for help. Whether the caller chooses abortion or not, the level of kindness and care remains the same. This is important to note.
Below are some sentiments and experiences from the consultants themselves, speaking about their experiences which have greatly impacted their lives.
Lyndsey-The number one thing women need when in crisis is another person. That is why Option Line is 24/7, to be there for those women and to establish that human connection.
Lauren- A woman who works for Planned Parenthood called wanting to reverse the abortion pill she took. She was scared to tell anyone she works with because she was afraid they would judge her. She was afraid she was the only woman who wanted to reverse the abortion pill and asked if there were others like her. Even if she chose not to parent, Lauren was able to assure her they would support her either way.
Andrea- Consultants are there for lives to be saved. But also to share the gospel when it’s possible. Andrea was able to lead an abortion-minded soon-to-be mom of twins to the Lord on Easter Sunday at 2 a.m. over the phone.
Teresa- The sheer volume of calls regarding wanting to reverse the abortion pill astounded Teresa. A Catholic woman called in after finding out she was pregnant after having an affair. After being able to speak to a real person who cares, she was able to realize her desire to raise her baby. She even said she would move to relocate to be able to raise her child.
Ashley- A woman called in asking about post-abortive support from an abortion she had 20 years ago. For 20 years she suffered, without the tools or support to enable her to process or heal. After calling and speaking with Ashley, the woman was able to realize hope and healing were actually possible for her.
Sarah- A first-year consultant, previously worked at Planned Parenthood. “I have been able to experience both sides of the fence,” she said. “And I’m blessed to know that my work now saves lives.”
Kennedy offered another poignant example demonstrates the genuine love Option Line consultants have for others.
A call came in last December from a woman who was on hold with Planned Parenthood via a second line.
“She had already been on hold for seven minutes with them when she was doing a Google search and found us,” Kennedy said. “She called (Option Line) and received an answer within 30 seconds.”
“It’s very rewarding to see that happen,” said Kennedy. “One of my roles now is making sure things run efficiently, that we’re using the right tools, and that we give them what they need quickly.”
“Planned Parenthood never got back to the caller during the entire time she spoke with the Option Line consultant,” she said. ‘The consultant was able to connect the caller with a pregnancy help center in her area.”
Option Line consultants do not always get to know the outcome of the connects they have with the people who call or text in to Option Line. It truly is important work, connecting with each person frequently at a critical moment in someone’s life, often without closure or knowledge of what that person decided.
This is where faith comes in. Option Line consultants trust the Lord to take care of each and every one of the precious people who call in.
Most calls are 2-3 minutes. Other calls can last longer. It is an emotionally, mentally, and spiritually challenging work, to cry with people, and hear what are often difficult stories of pain and hopelessness.
The rewarding part about such a challenging job is sharing hope and healing.
To tell a desperate woman she does have options after taking the abortion pill, or to be able to share healing and hope with someone for an abortion from more than 20 years ago is one way to celebrate life. Many Option Line team members experienced their own unexpected pregnancy before joining Option Line, giving them unique insight and motivation for helping our contacts.
Tweet This: We celebrate the incredible impact Option Line has had and continues to have in the world.
“My heart is full of gratitude for the trust of those five million contacts,” Kennedy said, “and for the people - our Option Line consultants who served them. Regardless of the time of day or the weather, it's really impactful to consider the dedication of those early Option Line consultants who braved the icy roads at 3 a.m. in order to answer calls and email.”
Option Line’s team is made up of seasoned professionals, some whom have over a decade of experience in the pregnancy help work.
Over the last 20 years some 140+ consultants with diverse backgrounds have been trained to answer calls and inquiries for help to Option Line.
Some of these different backgrounds include: psychology degrees, positions of leadership in their local pregnancy help organization, nurses, licensed social worker for day job - working part time with Option Line- held positions of leadership in the corporate world, taught kindergarten, taught college-level chemistry, missionaries, certified doulas, worked at Option Line while obtaining higher education - including law school and other graduate level programs - published authors, raising their own children, and more.
We celebrate the incredible impact Option Line has had and continues to have in the world, and we celebrate Option Line’s dedicated consultants who are on the front lines every hour of every day, sharing hope, healing, and love. We honor you and we thank you!
Help is available with Option Line toll-free at 1-800-712-HELP (4357) and at the website www.OptionLine.org.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.