Activism

Groundbreaking pro-life program focuses on meeting tangible needs of women to save lives

This month, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) announced its re-branding and expanded focus. Originally, the SBA List was focused on supporting pro-life women in politics. Now, the organization has a new name — Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, created to serve as an opposite to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The goal is to work to create a pro-life America, bolstering the pro-life movement and ensuring that a woman never feels she has no choice but to have an abortion. One of the programs meant to make that goal a reality is called Her Pregnancy and Life Assistance Network, or Her PLAN. Well-known pro-life activist Jill Stanek — a former nurse who blew the whistle on her hospital’s practice of aborting some children alive and leaving them to die — is serving as the community outreach manager for Her PLAN, and spoke to Live Action News about the goals of the organization, and how they’re helping women.

Key Takeaways:

  • Her PLAN exists to connect and aid pro-life assistance providers, connect community organizations with the providers, and fill community service gaps.
  • Her PLAN works to meet parents’ needs in the categories of health and well-being, finances and career or education, legal or material help, mental health issues or abuse, a prenatal diagnosis, and more.

“In 2016, our leadership team really started thinking about how the day was coming that Roe v. Wade would be overturned,” Stanek said. “And the question was, are we ready?”

The team worked to identify states that plan to protect all or nearly all preborn children as soon as Roe is overturned, identify which states lean pro-life, and identify which states plan to protect abortion no matter what. The SBA leadership decided to focus on the first category.

READ: Every pregnancy circumstance has a life-affirming solution. Abortion is not a ‘need.’

Currently, Her PLAN is operating in Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi — and the organization soon expects to expand to Texas and one other state within a year. By the end of 2024, Her PLAN intends to operate in 30 states. The organization focuses on providing support and resources to pregnant mothers at risk for abortion, as well as birth families, adoptive families, and foster families with children up to 1,000 days old from conception or two years old.

Three goals and seven categories of care

The program has three goals. The first is to connect and aid pro-life assistance providers — meaning providers who will not pressure women into abortions, birth control, or sterilization. The second goal is to connect community organizations with those life-affirming assistance providers, and the third is to fill the service gaps that exist in communities.

“We’ve learned that there are seven basic reasons that pregnant mothers cite for thinking that they need to get an abortion,” Stanek said. “We’ve responded with our seven categories of care. This is our answer. If they don’t have a plan, we have a category of mentorship as well.”

These seven reasons are concerns for health and well-being, finances and career or education, needing legal or material help, mental health issues or abuse, a prenatal diagnosis of a disability or defect, needing help with childcare, or not having a plan for the pregnancy.

“The goal is, in each of these 30 states, to have a safety net under pregnant moms in crisis, so that they don’t feel that they even need an abortion,” she continued. “Within our seven categories of care, we have 25 sub-categories, or areas that we want to make sure are covered for these moms with life-affirming assistance providers. If we do our job, then there will be a complete safety net with no holes in it for these moms.”

Filling in the gaps

Her PLAN goes through resource lists in all of their sub-categories and vets providers, finding anything ranging from legal help to food banks to childcare, and pre-screen them to ensure they will provide life-affirming care, as well as ensuring all of their licensing and credentials are up-to-date. After being vetted, the providers will be added to the Her PLAN network. When someone searches the network, they can filter by area, the service they provide, price, and more. Local community organizations and churches will also be connected with the life-affirming providers, so they can better help the abortion-minded women they encounter.

And it also serves as a reassurance to politicians and judges that women can and will be taken care of and they do not need abortion.

“Abortion is a symptom,” Stanek said. “It’s not the problem. There’s a bigger problem behind it. That’s what we’re trying to solve.”

One of the biggest problems Her PLAN has noticed is service gaps. For example, West Virginia has been one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Yet there is a massive shortage of providers working to address the crisis, and it’s even worse for pregnant women. “We could only find one counselor specifically who would counsel pregnant moms who are addicts in the whole state,” she explained. “So this is a huge gap we would find in care. Their problems are special. If their babies are born addicted, they may go to jail. They may be in big trouble. So the easier solution is to abort. There’s a lot more to being a pregnant addict than to being a non-pregnant addict, as far as support goes. But that’s an example of the gap we’re trying to fill.”

Her PLAN has been endorsed by the American College of Pediatricians and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and they are HIPAA certified as a group working in compliance with HIPAA policies to protect patient safety.

Making a difference in tangible ways

Pro-life activists who want to help Her PLAN can recommend or refer life-affirming assistance providers. “That gives us a head start,” Stanek said. There is also a PLAN Pathways Guide for Churches, which pro-lifers can use in any state to help their church incorporate more hands-on pro-life work, with the help of Her PLAN.

Already, Her PLAN is making a difference across the country. Her PLAN partnered with Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch to host a virtual baby shower in support of 21 pregnancy help centers. The pregnancy centers’ Amazon wish lists were shared on the Her PLAN website, so supporters could purchase and send gifts. One wish list was completely filled, while others received a TV for parenting course sessions, car seats, pack and plays, and diapers.

A Lutheran Church in Roanoke, Virginia, was beginning the process of offering support to foster families, but was not connected to a local foster care support group, 127 Place (named for James 1:27), until reaching out to Her PLAN State Coordinator Anna Longbons.

Her PLAN Mississippi State Coordinator Anja Baker worked with staffers of a women’s residential recovery campus that was limited in scope, only able to house pregnant women only through their first trimester who not have small children. Working with Her PLAN educated the staffers of other housing available to women who do not meet their criteria, enabling them to connect these women with that housing and other resources.

With Her Plan, Stanek is hopeful that the pro-life movement can reach desperate, abortion-vulnerable women to make a difference.

“Women say if they just had one person who encouraged them and said, you can do this… then they would have [chosen life.] But so often, they’re surrounded by a partner who’s non-committal and doesn’t want a baby, or family, or medical staff, social workers… who all tell them they need to have an abortion. They need someone who can tell them they can do it. Now, at Her PLAN, I have a fuller understanding of the needs that these moms have, and understanding that pregnancy isn’t the problem.”

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