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Letter to the editor: Local pregnancy center focuses on hope and support

Most of us are quite aware that we are amid a very polarized and divided time in our country. There is no shortage of strong accusations that are often made with insufficient research or inadequate knowledge of the topic. As a director of a pregnancy center here in Middlebury, I have seen a movement by abortion proponents to portray all pregnancy centers as designed to intimidate women who may be considering abortion. I have read the accusations and listened to the voices of those who “researched” and tried to prove that pregnancy centers pose as medical clinics when they are not, that they use inaccurate information to “scare” women out of an abortion and that they are only concerned about “saving the baby” and don’t care about the woman. Because they are faith based, they are accused of being biased.
I cannot speak to all pregnancy centers as we each act completely independently, but I would request that the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County not be found to be “guilty by association” even though most pregnancy centers are probably not guilty of the accusations made.
Currently, there are over 2,750 pregnancy help centers serving women, men and children across the U.S. According to a recent report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, those centers served nearly 2 million people in 2017, with estimated community cost savings of at least $161 million. In 2017, pregnancy help centers provided parenting and prenatal education programs to nearly 300,000 clients across the country, setting parents up for long-term success, through pregnancy and after birth. Client satisfaction surveys from two of the largest networks of pregnancy centers show the positive impact our centers have on the clients we serve. Heartbeat International and Care Net have reported client satisfaction rates of 91 and 97 percent, respectively.
Our center, the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County, has served many women, men and children with support and education. Through material assistance, well pregnancy and parenting classes, as well as relationship and post-abortion support, pregnancy centers are there to stand by women and families through all sorts of challenging circumstances. With our options counseling, we offer information about all their options. We are completely committed to a standard of honesty and providing accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues and related concerns. We state clearly that we do not offer abortions nor refer for abortions. We offer compassion, hope and practical help by providing support and services free of charge. I would propose that anyone who wants to truly understand what the pregnancy center does would find that we offer non-directive, non-coercive and non-judgmental support that allows a woman to make a well-informed decision about her pregnancy as well as receive needed support should she decide to continue with her pregnancy. If she decides to terminate after our options counseling, we recognize that that is her decision and offer that we will always be there if she would want post-abortion support.
We are faith-based, a faith shared by millions of people and a faith that allows us to respect and love the woman as well as her unborn child.
Motivated by our respect for all life, the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County doesn’t focus on fear and guilt, but on hope and support. No one can argue that we all aren’t better off with a bit more of that these days.
Joanie Praamsma
Executive Director of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County
Middlebury

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