The Voice of a Crisis Pregnancy Center

The following blog is written by Cheri Scott and Julie Dodson. Both Cheri and Julie work at Avenues for Women, the crisis pregnancy center we're getting the chance to partner with as we get the opportunity to talk about the pro-life movement. In thinking through the ways that the pro-life movement and crisis pregnancy work more generally need to be re-framed, it was most obviously important to talk about crisis pregnancy centers and the work that they do and we couldn't imagine anyone more equipped to do that then Cheri and Julie. While every crisis pregnancy center is different, we wanted to provide a look into what one local center--one we know very well--and explore what it exactly is that they aim to do. - Drinklings

By Cheri Scott, Executive Director

Julie Dodson, MA, LMFT, Staff Counselor

We are pro-woman. We are pro-human. We are pro-life.

At Avenues for Women (AFW), we value all life…from beginning to end, no matter what. That means that we do value the life of the unborn, but we also equally value the life of the woman, the guy involved, the family, and anyone else who may be impacted by her decision. We value the women regardless of her decision. We strive to show that value to each person that we have the opportunity to serve. So, when we say we are pro-life, we mean it in so many more ways than people often think.

AFW is a state-licensed medical pregnancy resource center with the mission of empowering people to make informed decisions about their pregnancy options and sexual health. We have been in operation for 16 years providing confidential, compassionate care with excellence and understanding. We are able to provide all of our services for free because of local financial support. We also do not benefit financially from any pregnancy decision a woman may choose.

Our medical staff (RNs overseen by a local OB/GYN) provide pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound scans, and educational information on abortion risks and procedures and healthy pregnancy. Our staff counselors help provide a safe space for individuals to process their own thoughts and feelings about their pregnancy options, their relationships and other areas of life that might be affected by their pregnancy choice. We provide on-going care before, during, and after pregnancy, regardless of a woman’s decision. AFW also provides continuing parenting support through our Mentoring Moms program, which offers both a mentoring relationship and parenting education while they earn items for their child.

AFW is also a place of healing. Abortion can cause mental, emotional, relational, and/or spiritual difficulties. We are here for those who have chosen abortion, whether recently or in the past. We offer confidential, non-judgmental counseling and care for individuals and groups. Women who have come to AFW have found resolve for their grief and freedom from pain they may have carried for years. It is an honor that we have the opportunity to walk with people through their healing journey.

Our clients overwhelmingly state on our exit interviews that they feel heard, understood, and valued by our staff. In our experience, even clients who have chosen abortion continue to refer their friends to us because we are providing a safe space for clients to explore their options without pressure and without judgment.

Do we hope that they choose life for their unborn child? Yes, we do, but it is not because we are exclusively “pro-baby.” It is because we have witnessed firsthand the destruction to women that an abortion can cause. We know many women who have had abortions and then struggled for years with that decision. We hurt for those women who initially feel relieved after having an abortion but then struggle with the loss 5, 10, 15, 20+ years later. We hurt for those women who felt like they had no option other than abortion and believed that their lives would go back to normal after the abortion but instead experienced deep pain afterwards. We hurt for the fathers who did not want the woman to abort but felt like they had no voice. We hurt for those who have lost grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. We hurt for them all.

It is a challenging job. We work in a cultural environment where people judge who we are and make assumptions about what we do based on limited knowledge. We also acknowledge that there are women who have had bad experiences at pregnancy centers where they have felt judged, misunderstood, deceived, and manipulated. It saddens us for those women, and we disagree with those practices. We are part of a nationwide network of pregnancy resource centers who will continue to strive to offer loving, accepting, compassionate, resourceful, excellent care as women make decisions about their life and the life they carry.

The work is challenging, but we continue to do it. We continue because it is an honor to be with people in the midst of their struggle and uncertainty. We continue because we love and value all those who walk through our doors. We continue because we care.

We are pro-woman. We are pro-human. We are pro-life.


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