“Pregnant? Scared? We can help.”

The moment when a woman finds out she is pregnant can be a daunting and even terrifying one, depending on her circumstance. For the woman who is poor, alone or struggling with other material and social difficulties that already make life too hard, a baby on the way can seem an insurmountable crisis.

At this moment, if she looks for help, she will find it, and it will come in two distinct types.  

There is the “help” offered by the abortion clinic that promises to erase her problem and turn the clock back, as it were, to just a few weeks ago.

They will tell her that the procedure will be uncomfortable, it’s true, but no one will be irreparably hurt and her life will return to normal. The doctors, nurses and counselors at the clinic will treat her with gentleness and try to minimize the pain and trauma of the procedure. 

They believe this is best for her, and that there will be nothing to regret, no loss to mourn — if a life is ended, it is one that barely trembled on the threshold of existence. They will tell her these false things to comfort her in her pain, and, sadly, because this is their business model: to perform as many abortions as they can. 

 Or, it’s possible that the number she calls or the link she clicks will send her to the other type of help — the one that springs from love, not mammon. And because love is patient and kind, always protects, the volunteers at the pro-life pregnancy center will give her all the emotional and material support they can to help her choose life for her child and lasting joy for herself.  

It is a fortunate woman indeed who ends up in the hands of love. Her path to a happy motherhood and lifelong delight in her child may need only material smoothing: help accessing prenatal and delivery care, the peace of knowing that the expense of diapers, strollers and car seats will be lifted off her shoulders.

Or perhaps she needs accompaniment and emotional support, someone to walk with her through the pregnancy and be there when the moment comes. Maybe her way to joy is the way of the birth mother, who delivers her innocent one into hearts that are aching to receive the blessing. 

Nothing could be easier to arrange. Spousal classes for marriages in trouble, parenting classes for young couples who are afraid they are not up to the challenge, and prenatal ultrasounds to date pregnancies and connect the mother and father emotionally to the baby, all are available at no cost. Anything to make continuing the pregnancy a viable option for her.

The volunteers at the center are impelled by love to save the lives of the vulnerable babies, but also the hearts of their mothers. A recent study published in the Journal of American Physicians describes the adverse psychological and emotional reactions experienced by post-abortive women. 

Many, especially those who chose abortion because they felt they could not provide for their child adequately, reported experiencing remorse, self-hatred, depression and a persistent sense of loss. When asked about positive outcomes, none of them reported feeling empowered or in control of their destinies after the procedure, or feeling glad that they had avoided impoverishment or the difficulties of raising a child. 

Instead, about a third expressed “no personal benefits of the experience.” Others described positives like spiritual growth, helping other women who were considering abortion or healing from one, and getting involved in the pro-life movement. These positives didn’t happen right away, but “rather arose from excruciating psychological distress and suffering over many years, even decades.”  

In our topsy-turvy modern culture, “freedom of choice” is held up as the highest good for women scared and stunned by an unexpected pregnancy, and abortion clinics are subsidized with our tax dollars to deliver it. But many women who consent to an abortion don’t actually want one. 

Social and economic pressures that make abortion into a painful necessity drive them to it. This is hardly liberty. True freedom is actually found at the pro-life pregnancy centers, subsidized by love. Easing, as best they can, the difficulties faced by the women in crisis, the centers strive to make choosing motherhood as easy as choosing abortion.  

Now that is freedom.

This month, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Washington and cities across the country, they will be taking part in a joyous celebration of true freedom, and true love.