Dr. Laura Lewis is the executive director of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services.
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Q1. Who comes to a pregnancy care centre?
Here’s a video in which Dr. Laura Lewis answers this first question.
Many people probably have a preconceived idea of who goes to a pregnancy care centre – a teenage girl who has a “risky” lifestyle. In reality, the scope of clientele is much broader. Unplanned pregnancy crosses all boundaries, there is no demographic that is not affected in some way.
A teenager – who can’t believe she’s pregnant and doesn’t know what to do.
A college student – who has a timeline, with pregnancy far down the road.
A middle-age woman – who was already done having babies.
An immigrant – who will be rejected by her culture for having premarital sex.
A woman – who in the past felt like she had no choice and had an abortion.
A young man – who wants to know how to be a good father.
A mom, a dad, a grandparent – who has a loved one with an unplanned pregnancy.
A parent – who needs help feeding or clothing their baby.
A person – who has had unhealthy relationships and is trying to heal and change.
These are the people who walk into a pregnancy care centre, looking for help, resources and hope.
Q2. What do pregnancy care centres do to help?
Just as the scope of clientele is broad, so are our programs and services.
Regardless of a client’s background or beliefs, pregnancy care centres offer the practical help and hope many are looking for. This includes medically accurate information on the options available when facing a pregnancy decision: abortion, adoption and parenting.
Knowing that none of the options for an unplanned pregnancy is an easy solution, centres provide support in relation to each option. If a client chooses to parent, centres provide ongoing support throughout the pregnancy. Many centres also offer parenting programs.
If adoption is decided upon, centres provide referrals to adoption agencies, as well as ongoing support throughout the pregnancy and after placing the baby for adoption.
If a client chooses abortion, most centres have a post-abortion program to facilitate healing.
As well as these core services, many centres help with referrals for financial assistance and housing, provide sexual health information and school presentations, and have material supports for clients such as maternity clothing and baby supplies and clothing.
Beyond these tangible means of help and support, pregnancy care centre staff and volunteers offer unconditional love. They walk alongside, letting each client know: You are not alone.
Q3. What do you wish Christians knew about how to support women facing unplanned pregnancy?
Please don’t assume. If we really want to help, we need to watch our conversations and our language. We can never know for certain who in our midst has experienced an unplanned pregnancy or abortion. On average one in three women have an unplanned pregnancy and one in four women have had an abortion.
Please don’t judge. Whether it’s an unplanned pregnancy or a woman who has had an abortion, there is no way we can fully understand their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical circumstances. Only God knows, and He always chooses love and forgiveness first.
Please listen. Each and every person has a story to tell, if there is someone who cares enough to listen. There is usually a place for us in their story, but we only see it when we pause and listen with our hearts.
Please believe. Believe in them and believe for them. So many are without hope. We have an incredible opportunity to be the light that directs them to the hope we have, and they can find, in Jesus.