While organizations and lawmakers work to curb or put an end to abortion in the various legislatures, the pro-life effort continues on an entirely different front—with pregnancy centers counseling would-be mothers on their options. One of the groups that does that very effectively is Morning Star.
Morning Star was originally founded back in 1972 as Birthright. Since then it has expanded to three offices (Harrisburg, New Cumberland and Middletown).
I had the chance to sit down and talk with Leslie Moyer, Morning Star’s Sexual Risk Avoidance Program Director. Her main focus is educating young people about the advantages of waiting for authentic love before they have sex. But she gave a complete tour and rundown of what Morning Star has to offer for women who come to them believing they might be pregnant.
Despite what many with contrary beliefs might claim, Morning Star does NOT pressure anyone to do anything.
“Whatever decision you make, we are just giving you the information so you can make the best decision,” Moyer said. “There are women who decide after they are here and had an ultrasound that they are going to abort. Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often. We never judge their decision, but we will offer to listen to their pain and guide them toward after care following an abortion if that’s what they request.”
Moyer also says Morning Star wants all mothers (and fathers) to feel love and support during their pregnancies. Fathers are often in the room during an ultrasound. Those mothers and fathers come from a variety of backgrounds.
“All incomes, every status you can think of,” Moyer said. She says some times the workers at Morning Star are the first people that a client will tell about the pregnancy.
“What if it’s a woman who’s a sophomore in college,” Moyer continued. “She does not want her family to know that she is pregnant and she will come in. We’ll help her in all the different ways that we can help her with the pregnancy, then if she decides to keep the baby and she doesn’t feel like she will have support from her family, then we can help her with that.”
Moyer says that includes helping the pregnant woman get insurance. She says that in Pennsylvania, every pregnant woman will get insurance, but has to apply for it. If she doesn’t have any income, insurance is available at no charge to the woman until the baby is six weeks old.
“If she is thinking, I can’t have this baby now, I’m not at a good place, maybe she wants to explore adoption, we can help her with that,” Moyer said. “We have even invited adoption agencies here. If she doesn’t want to go to an agency, because she’s afraid they’ll make her sign something—which isn’t legal. But sometimes they are open to having the adoption agencies come here—like a neutral turf. We will facilitate the conversation, but it’s really between her and the adoption agency.”
Morning Star is able to connect the woman with an agency that best fits their needs. And Morning Star also offers material support for the woman or the father who needs it, i.e. diapers, bottles, formula, blankets, baby toiletries and clothes up to 3T.
But once again, the work centers on counseling, not persuading.
“Our objective is to give them information about the options that are available so they can make an informed decision,” Moyer said. “They may be thinking, ‘I can’t be pregnant right now I need to get rid of this. We will help them to take a breath and think through the difficult decision that is before them. Often they have a few weeks before they have to make a decision whether to terminate the pregnancy. Many times they will say ‘I’m so glad that I came because I was able to relax and make my decision.’”
Moyer says that sometimes women will rush to an abortion center before determining whether they have a viable pregnancy. She says a quarter of all pregnancies will naturally end in miscarriage. Morning Star will perform an ultrasound right in their offices.
“If we don’t see a heartbeat, we cannot determine viability, so we will offer them another ultrasound in a week or so to track the baby’s development. We will continue offering ultrasounds until they make a decision about the pregnancy. We want to see if there is development with this fetus.”