Protecting Pregnancy Centers That Give Help and Hope
When you think of the women who visit crisis pregnancy centers, odds are you aren’t picturing me.
Raised in an upper-class home and college educated, I was 26 when I found myself staring down at those telltale double pink lines. I was a woman rising in the ranks in the male-dominated construction industry at the time. I not only owned my own home, I built it. Teen mom I was not.
I met the father on a job site. He had tattoos and a past that couldn’t fit in an op-ed if I tried. He was a welder, I was a site manager. Initially we didn't talk. But then we did, and talking led to hanging out, and hanging out led me to see past his past to the kind and loving man that he was and into a future that I found myself deeply desiring with him. One night, after an evening laughing, spending time with his family, and seeing how great he was with kids, I joked, “We should have a baby.”
Just a few weeks later, I watched as that second pink line crept across the pregnancy test window, and I knew my life was about to take a hard turn in a different direction.
Though I wasn’t teen mom, things weren’t easy either. I wasn't sure what my insurance would cover, and I didn't even have an OB-GYN. How would I tell my parents? How would I pay for everything? How would I manage dangerous job sites while pregnant? My company had never dealt with a pregnant woman, would I get paid leave?
Like any nervous woman, I found myself on Google. I searched "free ultrasounds" and headed to the first clinic that popped up. I knew I didn't want an abortion. But I also didn't quite know what to do next.
Walking into the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Clinic, I felt immediately at peace. The waiting room was clean and professional. Cheerful women greeted me. I got an ultrasound and learned my baby was healthy. They charged me nothing. They gave me prenatal vitamins and a basic introduction to pregnancy – something I hadn’t given two thoughts to in my entire adult life. The staff asked me what I needed -- did I want to take classes? Did I have support? Did I want any clothes from the maternity closet? Was I okay?
I’m a strong and competent woman, but I still needed someone to ask me if I was okay.
And I was okay. There was no pressure. No exchanging of money. No talk of anything except my well-being and my baby’s. I could hardly believe something as assuring as this clinic existed, let alone that my visit cost me nothing.
I consider my experience there an essential part of laying the groundwork for my future life as a mom. They got me off to a strong start in my pregnancy, and I left feeling ready for what the future held. I felt steadied.
But clinics everywhere like the one I visited face an uncertain future. Any day, the Supreme Court will rule in the case of NIFLA v. Becerra and determine whether such clinics can be required to do things like advertise abortion referrals or post signs that make them look shady by announcing that they are unlicensed. Signs that would confuse or scare away women like me.
Other clinics face local laws that would label them as “limited service providers” because they don’t provide the one and only service everyone knows they don’t provide – abortion – and prohibit them from appearing in Google searches like the one I did when I was looking into my options. These laws plainly target centers like the one that empowered me to do what I wanted: have my baby.
I never imagined I’d be a woman walking through the doors of a pregnancy clinic. But I’m glad I did, because it opened my eyes to how essential they are for women far less fortunate than myself. Throughout my pregnancy, I found myself wondering how women who don’t want an abortion but aren’t blessed with a supportive partner, means, or hope get through it all.
They do it with help from the selfless volunteers at places like the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Clinic, volunteers who don’t just want to see babies born, but want to see their mothers flourish too. Staff from the clinic called five weeks after my baby was born to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. Not only am I doing great, I went on to marry the father, and we are expecting our third child in a few weeks. My daughters’ thriving lives have been no threat to my thriving career or my happy marriage. That children are a threat to female flourishing is a lie I hope my example can counter.
As one of 13 women featured as amici in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court, I am proud to stand with pregnancy centers everywhere and the other women they have helped. And while I may or may not be not be your stereotype for an unplanned pregnancy, laws that target pregnancy centers harm all pregnant women looking for choices and hope. My hope is that the justices on the highest court agree.