In September 2016, addressing the 30th anniversary dinner of the Life Center of Long Island, I emphasized how crucial pro-life pregnancy resource centers would be in the dark days I saw ahead.
I was anticipating a Hillary Clinton presidency, an abortion-absolutist Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, and subsequent judicial appointments giving anti-life forces full control of our national government.
That scenario did not play out in 2016. But now pro-abortion forces do hold the presidency and both houses of Congress, and they are trying to pack the Supreme Court to take control of all three branches of the federal government.
In the face of these obstacles—even as restoring legal protection for the unborn remains morally imperative—it becomes ever more critical to provide life-affirming alternatives to women in crisis.
Yet in some states, even these loving ministries to women and children are under legislative assault.
Predictably, California and New York have led these legislative attacks. Thankfully, the Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy resource centers to advertise abortion services. The Court held that the law “unduly burdens protected speech” by forcing pro-life centers to promote “the very practice [they] are devoted to opposing.”
Now legislation in New York would authorize the State Health Commissioner to conduct a “study” of pro-life pregnancy centers, potentially overwhelming their limited resources and largely volunteer staffs with requirements to compile and turn over to the state voluminous amounts of data and information.
That, and the study’s “pre-determined outcome”—finding the services of these centers too “limited” because they do not include abortion—are clearly designed to “intimidate, silence and shut down pro-life centers,” in the words of the N.Y. State Catholic Conference.
This is confirmed by the bill’s authorizing no similar state investigation of abortion clinics; no collection of voluminous data from them; no questioning whether they apprise pregnant women of their full range of choices, including alternatives to abortion. Only pro-life centers are to be investigated, their survival threatened if they do not refer for abortions.
And if this becomes law in New York, it will doubtless spur similar legislation in other states, and quite possibly in Congress as well.
Consider what would be lost to women and children if pro-life centers are legislated out of existence:
They provide referrals, for everything from medical support, financial resources and housing, to legal and social assistance and professional counseling; information, about pregnancy, prenatal care and childbirth—including, and this is what really drives the abortion industry’s opposition, information about the baby’s development and sometimes ultrasound imaging of the child in utero; information about adoption, community programs, training in parenting skills and child care; and free resources including pregnancy tests, maternity clothes, baby items, and 24/7 telephone helplines.
Pro-life maternity residences offer young single mothers housing and assistance through pregnancy, childbirth, and into motherhood, providing childcare and opportunities to develop parenting skills, complete their education and receive job training.
Most importantly, pro-life centers offer friendship, love, and hope to pregnant mothers and their children.
Why would government officials who claim to be “pro-choice” want to destroy centers that simply offer another choice to women contemplating abortion?
Because many such politicians are in thrall to the abortion lobby and lucrative abortion industry. That industry profits from abortions. It makes no money when women choose not to abort, so it expends no effort or resources informing them of alternatives or assisting them when they choose life.
Nor will it tolerate those who do. So it seeks to close these pro-life ministries of love—ministries staffed largely by volunteers, that offer their services free of charge, without profit or government funding.
There needs to be a powerful outpouring of public support for these pro-life centers, and opposition to efforts to shut them down. This should come not only from pro-lifers, but from all caring people, including those who are truly “pro-choice” and want to assure that abortion is not the only choice accessible to women in crisis.
Surveys continue to show that the vast majority of Americans—even many who identify as “pro-choice”—remain profoundly uncomfortable with the killing of pre-born human life, and wish to have less of it. And as ever-growing numbers of post-abortive women attest, the experience of terminating their child’s life can be devastatingly traumatizing; and the pain does not ease quickly, if ever.
So pro-life pregnancy resource centers are vital to the lives and health not only of unborn children, but of their mothers as well.
The public needs to understand the extremism of the abortion lobby. It has never been about promoting choice. It is about promoting abortion; suppressing all opposition; and—most especially—shutting down services that prevent abortions by assisting mothers who want to choose life for their child.
For three decades, Rick Hinshaw has given voice to faith values in the public square, as a columnist, then editor of The Long Island Catholic; Communications Director for the Catholic League and the N.Y. State Catholic Conference; co-host of The Catholic Forum cable TV show; and now editor of his own blog, Reading the Signs. Visit Rick’s home page at rickhinshaw.com.
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