Abortion advocates often argue that pro-lifers are only interested in helping women choose life for their preborn children, but aren’t interested in what happens to them afterwards. This, of course, is wrong on multiple fronts; being pro-life is about protecting all life, and while pro-lifers do work to prevent abortion, we also want to help women so that they don’t feel that they need to make such a choice. We want to do what the original feminists did: change our society for the better so that women have access to the support and resources they need, making abortion not just illegal, but unthinkable.
Helping to do that are pregnancy resource centers like the Women’s Care Center. Jenny Hunsberger is the vice president, and she grew up believing in the sanctity of life. “I am the ninth of 10 children and the mother of eight,” she explained in an interview with Live Action. “Growing up in a large Irish Catholic family, the conviction that there is always room for more life and more love is foundational.” She began to consider getting involved with the pro-life movement after her brother became a student of Dr. Janet Smith, the Notre Dame professor who would found the Women’s Care Center. “She enlisted him to paint the little blue house that became the first Women’s Care Center,” Hunsberger said. “Seven years later, as a freshman at Notre Dame, I attended a service and ministry fair. That evening, I met a wonderful Women’s Care Center counselor who invited me to a training. I immediately knew that this work was my mission and passion. I have been here ever since.”
Today, Women’s Care Center has 28 centers in 10 states. On average, 28,000 women will make over 100,000 visits to one of their centers over the course of a year. “Women come to us initially for free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, parenting classes and tremendous amounts of material support,” Hunsberger said. “They return because here they experience genuine welcome, compassionate care and a realization of their own value and dignity.” At the centers, women can receive medical grade pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, giving them information — which abortion facilities will often deny them — to make a decision about their pregnancies.
“Pregnancy is a life-changing event for every woman. For a woman who feels unsupported, financially unprepared, or who sees her dreams and goals slipping away, pregnancy can be a crisis,” Hunsberger said. “At Women’s Care, these women find a safe place where they are free to talk about their challenges and fears. Our compassionate and highly trained counselors meet women right where they are, without judgment.
“Learning of an unplanned pregnancy can be overwhelming for a woman,” she continued. “At Women’s Care Center she finds hope and concrete help. Seeing her baby for the first time through ultrasound, she falls in love. And it doesn’t end there. Women’s Care is here to help her beyond a choice for life. We help women create strong, self-sufficient families.”
Women’s Care Center also makes sure to meet women where they are, acknowledging that each woman’s reason for considering abortion is based on her own individual circumstances. “Every woman is unique; her challenges are her own. And every woman has her own gifts and hard-fought strengths,” Hunsberger said, adding that her organization makes certain that “a woman considering abortion is met by a counselor who sits with her in those challenges. We do not pretend that the road is easy, straightforward or simple.” Counselors “become trusted guides who help women rely on their personal strengths, values and goodness to make choices.” Hunsberger added, “Today 391 women will come to one of our centers… [to] experience an environment of hope and care that will give them the concrete opportunity to choose life. Today, well over 9 in 10 will choose life.”
This experience shows that, for many women considering abortion, it’s not that they truly want to end their child’s life; it’s that they are scared, feel they have no other choice, and need help. When help and support is extended to them, when they see the humanity of their preborn child, lives can literally be saved.
While thousands have been helped by Women’s Care Center, Hunsberger remembered one woman she was able to help early in her career. “Every day women come back to Women’s Care with their babies to say thank you. There are literally hundreds of thousands of stories. [But] as a young counselor, Jessica taught me first-hand how courage and selfless love can triumph over fear,” she recalled. “Jessica was young and scared. Knowing her parents would be angry and feeling pressured by her boyfriend, Jessica had already made an appointment at an abortion clinic when she came to Women’s Care Center. She felt like she had no choice. Over the course of weeks she found the courage to tell her parents and to stand up to her boyfriend. She fell in love with her baby. And, wanting him to have a perfect life, she chose to place him for adoption. Jessica always hoped she would see Alex again. 18 years later, he called her. Imagine her joy when she got to hug him a second time. Today, Jessica is married with four children, and became a nurse so that she could help others the way Women’s Care helped her.”
It is stories like Jessica’s that show how the pro-life movement provides actual help to women, whereas abortion hurts them. Helping women to choose life is about so much more than just the preborn baby. It’s about giving a lifeline to women in crisis.