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Respect Life Month: Pregnancy Help -- giving women a true choice

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''When I got pregnant I felt lonely and confused. It was like being in a dark hole. Pregnancy Help gave me the emotional and practical support to get out of the confusion. I do not have words big enough to match the work they do," said a Pregnancy Help client.

Established in 1973 after abortion became legal in the United States, Pregnancy Help, a program of the Archdiocese of Boston, is a pregnancy resource center whose mission is to provide compassionate, life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Its mission lies in its assistance in allaying women's fears, so they can make life-affirming choices in crisis pregnancies; choosing childbirth over abortion. Once a woman makes this decision, Pregnancy Help is committed to assisting the woman in a myriad of personal, material, and financial issues that need to be addressed to make childbirth a safe and joyful experience.

Generally, when a woman comes to Pregnancy Help, she is in crisis. Many women are under pressure from the significant people in their lives to choose abortion. When a woman chooses life, she may often lose the support of the father of the baby, immediate family, and friends. Her mindset is such that she is more likely to let other people make decisions for her. It is not uncommon for these women to experience feelings of tiredness, hopelessness, inadequacy, and disorganization. She is often conflicted between a heart that says, "Don't do this," and a mind that says, "There's nothing else I can do." Her decision to continue the pregnancy can result in situations where she feels abandoned and alone and is often asked to leave her home.

Often a "crisis pregnancy" is an unplanned pregnancy but not all unplanned pregnancies will find a woman in crisis. For instance, an unplanned pregnancy, whether the woman is single or married, can be welcome news and a source of joy. A planned pregnancy can become a crisis pregnancy due to health issues surrounding the mother or baby, or sudden economic circumstances in the family.

It is essential for the wellbeing of the mother and child that they find a place of support at Pregnancy Help. A woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy may need the assistance described above as well as someone to listen to her struggles. Once this is accomplished only then can she begin to do the necessary "work" that will bring a sense of readiness and peace of mind by the end of the pregnancy. For women who continue to struggle with a decision, Pregnancy Help offers a free ultrasound after six-and-a-half weeks to verify the pregnancy's viability and heartbeat and to assist in supportive counseling regarding their decision to continue the pregnancy.

Recent 2016-2017 Pregnancy Help statistics reveal, for the women who seek our help who are either abortion-minded or vulnerable, that over 90 percent choose to continue their unintended pregnancies when offered compassionate assistance and support along with viewing an ultrasound.

It is a goal of Pregnancy Help also to promote increased awareness and information regarding the positive effects of adoption if she feels at risk for having difficulty with long-term care of her child.

Given the unique relationship that women in crisis pregnancies develop with the staff, the mission of Pregnancy Help differs from other social service or emergency relief agencies. It calls for an ongoing personal relationship on many levels that builds on trust, support, and perseverance. Our relationship begins with monthly visits (more often, if needed) and continues through delivery and three months post-partum. In extenuating circumstances, a woman may be served up to three years from the date of the baby's birth.

When a woman first contacts Pregnancy Help for assistance, a thorough social assessment in done for her situation. Consistent with its mission, Pregnancy Help offers a wide range of material and financial assistance to help her make life-affirming decisions. The ability to provide such assistance is indispensable to fulfilling its mission.

Part of the personalized support at Pregnancy Help is a special layette, a gift to the woman as a sign of regard for her goodness in responding with a mother's love to an unintended pregnancy. Towards the end of her pregnancy, the woman is provided with the layette that contains such items as new baby clothes, diapers, toiletries, and blankets that will carry out to the baby's first birthday. These distributions are possible only by the annual Parish Baby Showers within the archdiocese.

Pregnancy Help is affiliated with St. Elizabeth's and Good Samaritan Medical Centers and has trained nurses and trilingual (English, Spanish and Portuguese) caseworkers. Our services also include education and classes related to pregnancy, labor, and childcare.

To contact a Pregnancy Help office for free and confidential assistance, call 617-782-5151 (Brighton); 774-297-2233 (Brockton); or 508-651-0753 (Natick) or visit our website: pregnancyhelpboston.org

RACHELE MONBOUQUETTE, RN, IS NURSE SUPERVISOR AT THE BRIGHTON OFFICES OF PREGNANCY HELP BOSTON.



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