If tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children died needlessly one year, you would want to know why their parents let that happen, right? You would be saddened and outraged to learn that there are many programs to help these parents if they only had the courage to ask.According to a recently released Pennsylvania Department of Health report, in 2006, 36,731 children were lost to abortion in Pennsylvania – a 5.2% increase from 2005. The statistics do not list reasons why women make this choice, but abortion advocates are quick to name a few. They say a woman might not be ready to become a parent; cannot afford a baby; doesn’t want to be a single parent; has all the children she wants. They say every child should be “wanted” and motherhood shouldn’t be forced on someone. Abortion proponents sometimes cite statistics of neglected, abused or impoverished children as evidence that abortion should remain legal. They paint a picture of despair and hopelessness that unfairly represents the reality of options available to a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy.
The truth is there are many programs available to help women choose to allow their children to be born. A casual search of an Internet resource reveals that pregnancy support centers outnumber abortion clinics nearly three to one in Pennsylvania. One hundred twenty one of them are state-funded through the Pennsylvania Alternative to Abortion Services Program. They are open to all women, regardless of income.
These centers are staffed with caring professionals and trained counselors who help women dealing with unplanned pregnancies understand the comprehensive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion that are available to them. These programs help women find housing and health care. They help them get a job or stay in school. They provide confidential counseling and mentoring in a non-judgmental and supportive manner. These resources, training and emotional support are available not just to the birthday of the baby, but beyond into the first years. These programs succeed because the people who provide the services genuinely care. There is no reason a woman should feel desperate or helpless if she chooses to become a mother.
Or she may choose not to become a mother at this time; no one is forced into parenthood against her will. There are waiting lists of well qualified couples eager to adopt and provide a child with a good life. There is no such thing as an unwanted child. Pregnancy support centers are well equipped to support and guide women through the adoption experience.
Sadly, the annual abortion statistics report received little attention; no outrage from the general public. Yet, we cannot subscribe to the abortion proponents’ bleak and grim perspective. Abortion is unnecessary. With the growing number of support services, many parents facing an unexpected pregnancy are learning and understanding that childbirth is a realistic option. We must support programs which promote a culture of life and give unexpected parents the courage to ask for help.
PCC Column SPECIAL EDITION January 2008 by A. B. Hill, Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.