With a year gone by since the end of Roe v. Wade the future is in good hands with pregnancy help standing strong through the onset of the Dobbs era, and an upcoming generation equipped to press forward on life.
“There's hope for the future, and it was evident today as we celebrate the overturning of Roe,” said Tracie Shellhouse, vice president of Ministry Services for Heartbeat International.
Heartbeat is the largest network of pregnancy help organizations globally and in the U.S. and was a sponsor of the National Celebrate Life Day event marking the first anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling reversing Roe on June 24, 2022. Heartbeat is also working with Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, the woman who was pivotal in getting Dobbs to the Supreme Court, on a multi-state donation drive for pregnancy help organizations to commemorate the Dobbs anniversary. Shellhouse joined Heartbeat's staff a few months after the Dobbs decision came down.
Shellhouse was on the steps of the Lincoln memorial for the National Celebrate Life Day rally, and reflected on the new Dobbs era, the next generation in life to carry the torch for the pro-life cause, her approaching a year with Heartbeat, and how pregnancy help has persisted in the wake of Dobbs.
“There is the hope that has already been realized in states that have banned abortion and those that are working to restrict abortion,” she said. “There's the hope of the things to come.”
“I'm looking around at the youth; I'm looking around at the generation that is coming up, and they're very unique,” said Shellhouse. “They're diverse. They don't fit in a box, they don't look the same, and yet they're unified in mission and purpose.”
“And I believe that that is the hope that our nation is waking up,” she said.
Shellhouse noted that here are generations that have lived with Roe, accepted the premise to some degree that women benefit from abortion. But that’s changing, she said.
“There are generations that came up just accepting and hearing things like it's a woman's right to choose and never questioned it,” she said. “But in the last five decades there have been people who have been educated and taught to question it and to question. There are those that have empowered people to be able to be intellectually honest and to really understand what it is they're choosing.”
“You know, a woman has a right to choose; choose what?” she said. “And I think that there is a generation coming up that recognizes the sanctity of life, and the tide is turning.”
Shellhouse discussed how all the work put in by pro-life advocates over the last two generations is paying off with young pro-life people who are prepared to take the torch and lead, a providential thing.
“I think what we are seeing is a, a Biblical promise coming to fruition,” Shellhouse told Pregnancy Help News. “I think what we are seeing when we are at the March for Life or we are at the National Celebrate Life Day rally, we see this youth that is engaged. And with this younger generation I think what the turning of the tide is, or it's almost like that sense of passing of the torch. Really what it is, is the realization of a Biblical promise, and that is Proverbs 22: 6 - train up a child in the way that it should go. And when they're older, they shall not depart from it.”
Shellhouse remarked that what has happened there is now “this beautiful traction and momentum.”
“I think we're actually at a place of almost critical mass,” she said. “Bigger and bigger, and more are joining us, and this can't be stopped.”
The work resulting in Dobbs and a now a new generation poised to engage in the pro-life movement goes back to all the years in the decades where battles were not always being won federally or at the state level, she said.
Shellhouse was a pregnancy help organization director when Roe was overturned last year prior to her joining the Heartbeat team. She brought with her to Heartbeat nearly 20 years of experience in frontline ministry work. She now oversees Heartbeat affiliation, programs, events, and materials for life-affirming service providers and the related pregnancy help community, including resources, training, and services, and Heartbeat’s Annual Pregnancy Help Conference.
Shellhouse recognized when Dobbs was released what many have been saying, that while this was a significant victory fought for long and hard, the work of defending life and pregnancy help will go on.
“I did a Facebook message to the donors that I had in southeast Tennessee and the supporters in my community. And that was, there's much work to be done,” she said.
“The issue, and at least what I've been serving for and what I've been standing for, for many years and still do it, the issue isn't abortion,” explained Shellhouse. “It's about life. It's about protecting and defending life. The mother, the fathers of the babies, families, siblings, it is about abundant life. It's not just about being pro-life, but it's truly about being pro-abundant life, giving people the opportunity to be able to make life-affirming decisions, and that has to do with life in the womb, but also making good decisions for themselves.”
Tweet This: The issue isn't abortion. It's about protecting & defending life. The mother, babies, fathers, families. It is about abundant life.
Over the years people have remarked to her that wouldn't it be great if Roe were overturned, then she'd be out of a job.
“I was like, “No,” because my job isn't about abortion,” Shellhouse said. “My job is about supporting those experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and loving them. It's about the community. It's about family, it's about building up families.”
Shellhouse said it does feel exciting to be at Heartbeat, where now she is concerned with serving women and providing pregnancy help in all 50 states and countries around the world.
She knows that people all over the world were watching and are still watching after the Dobbs decision and that what happens in America has implications elsewhere in the world.
“It affects what happens in their country. And so, the entire world is watching now,” she said.
The transition from serving in local pregnancy help went from running a marathon and feeling like she was doing pretty well to new obstacles and twists and turns in the road, but pregnancy help is a path worth traveling.
“I never know what's going to be on the horizon when I top a new hill,” she said. “I will say it's exciting and it is a race worth being run.”
Despite pro-abortion attacks on pregnancy centers, and on abortion pill reversal, and efforts to thwart help centers from marketing and advertising their services, pregnancy help will go on, said Shellhouse.
“We’re but going to keep loving our neighbors,” she stated. “We are going to continue to stand and be there for those that are experiencing unplanned pregnancy - one life at a time.”
“We're winning one life at a time,” Shellhouse said. “The future is being changed for families one life at a time. The future is being changed for generations.”
“I really do believe that God's hand is on those that are in this mission field,” she added. “And I believe we have great momentum, and that His will cannot be stopped. And we're going to keep running that race and not only gain momentum, but I do believe more and more people are going to join us. And that is how we make abortion unthinkable for future generations.”
Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.