By Lindsay Steele
Last month, Barb, The Catholic Messenger’s editor, assigned me to cover an event at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf. Usually, Anne Marie, the assistant editor, writes stories about the pro-life women’s health clinic, but she happened to be taking a much-needed week off. Lord knows she earned it after working extra while I was on maternity leave!
At any rate, I had just finished sifting through my 5-month-old son Bradley’s clothing, so before heading out to do interviews and take photos, I asked Jessica at the Women’s Choice Center if there was a need for the items that no longer fit. “Yes!” she said.
I kept a box of the more sentimental clothing items at home, and packed up two big boxes filled with newborn and 0-3-month onesies, outfits and pajamas. I threw a few too-small diapers in there just in case the center’s moms might need them, too.
My eyes grew wide as I entered the center, which offers free pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, peer counseling and resources to help women make informed choices. Piles upon piles of diaper boxes filled the entryway. “We just had a diaper drive,” Jessica told me. They’d been donated by members of area churches.
Then, we walked into the room where moms in need can pick out clothes for themselves and their children. Two smiling volunteers took my boxes and started sorting through the clothing. As Jessica and I walked away, I could hear them cooing, “aww” and “that’s so cute.” My heart ached a little giving away those clothes, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
Before this assignment, I was unaware of the center’s efforts to help women post-birth. Additional services include support groups for birth parents and women who have terminated a pregnancy.
I believe many people aren’t aware of everything that crisis pregnancy centers and right-to-life organizations do to help mothers and families. People who work and volunteer for these centers and organizations are sometimes pegged as “womb warriors” who only care for the baby before the child is born. People I know have lamented that this stereotype is offensive and a misrepresentation of their efforts to help not just baby, but mom, too.
As long as Roe v. Wade is in effect, it remains essential to try to reduce the demand for abortion. Experiencing the humanity of the unborn through ultrasounds, having emotional support and financial stability, knowing more about adoption options and having access to stable housing and healthcare are some of the things that can help a woman choose life for her child. Support can be as simple as smiling reassuringly at single mothers instead of judging them. I know it’ll put a smile on my face if I ever see a mom whose little guy is wearing one of Bradley’s outfits!
(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)