You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Without abortion, demand for pregnancy aid surges

ABC News logo ABC News 6/26/2022
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade has set the stage for a major test of public and private pregnancy support programs that abortion rights opponents have touted for decades.

“This is not the moment to celebrate. I'm not celebrating,” said Archbishop William Lori, the top American Catholic leading the church’s campaign for alternatives to abortion. “This is a moment for steadiness, for staying the course, for increased compassion, for increased services.”

MORE: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in landmark case on abortion rights

Maternity homes and crisis pregnancy resource centers – offering everything from housing support to free diapers -- are expecting a surge of demand in states enacting strict new bans on abortion. The Catholic Church is one of the leading backers of a national pregnancy aid network.

The top American Catholic official leading the church's campaign against abortion rights, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, says the faithful must step up support for women in crisis pregnancies. © ABC News The top American Catholic official leading the church's campaign against abortion rights, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, says the faithful must step up support for women in crisis pregnancies.

“Our major focus is woman and child. Not only do we provide services, we are robust advocates for the poor, needy and vulnerable,” Lori said.

Critics say the church is dangerously ill-equipped and unprepared. In the 13 states with trigger laws enacted to ban abortions after Roe was overturned, more than 103,000 were performed in 2020 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I don’t think they have reckoned with what the ramifications are going to be in a post-Roe world," Jamie Manson, president for Catholics for Choice, told ABC News. "The amount of care and social work and life skill training that these women need is massive."

Kasey Whitley, Director of Social Ministry at Catholic Charities of Ft. Worth, Texas, oversees the Gabriel Project, a ministry for women in crisis pregnancies. © ABC News Kasey Whitley, Director of Social Ministry at Catholic Charities of Ft. Worth, Texas, oversees the Gabriel Project, a ministry for women in crisis pregnancies.

Since SB8 banned nearly all abortions in Texas beginning in September 2021, 84,000 women have signed up with a state-funded program "Alternatives to Abortion" aimed at supporting women who continue unwanted pregnancies, according to the Texas Health and Human Services.

Texas Catholic aid programs are also seeing an impact.

"We have a wait list now. We're already trying to gear up and make sure that we can meet the current need in addition to any increase that we might see," said Kasey Whitley, who oversees the Gabriel Project in Ft. Worth, a church-funded ministry for women in crisis pregnancies.

Kexsy Villeda of Fort Worth, Texas, considered abortion after learning of an unexpected pregnancy but chose to keep her baby with support from a Catholic support program, Gabriel Project. © ABC News Kexsy Villeda of Fort Worth, Texas, considered abortion after learning of an unexpected pregnancy but chose to keep her baby with support from a Catholic support program, Gabriel Project.

The diocese helped 175 women last year. Kexsy Villeda, a single mom who found out she was unexpectedly pregnant the day she got divorced, said the program provided her with emotional support and financial stability.

"I looked at my son, and I couldn't. No," she said of briefly contemplating abortion five months into her pregnancy.

MORE: Abortion foes credit strategy and luck in Supreme Court bid to end Roe

Kathleen Wilson, director of Mary's Shelter in Fredericksburg, Va., a Catholic-funded organization helping women with unintended or unwanted pregnancies, told ABC News she's expanding capacity this summer because of a steady stream of women in need.

The Catholic Church, the nation's single largest religious institution with 18,000 parishes, promises women who choose alternatives to abortion unconditional emotional and financial support during and after pregnancy. © ABC News The Catholic Church, the nation's single largest religious institution with 18,000 parishes, promises women who choose alternatives to abortion unconditional emotional and financial support during and after pregnancy.

The Catholic Church is the nation’s largest single religious institution with 18,000 local parishes. Its leaders have long promised women in crisis pregnancies unconditional emotional and financial aid well into motherhood, if they carry their child to term.

“The church is not just about bans. In fact, that’s not our major focus,” Lori said. A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops could not provide a dollar figure for how much the Church spends on pregnancy support each year nationwide.

MORE: Bishop says school no longer Catholic after flying Black Lives Matter, Pride flags

Catholic abortion rights advocates say allowing a woman to terminate her pregnancy should be a matter of conscience and social justice. And, many argue, efforts to dissuade women from abortion involve misleading claims about long-term support.

Jamie Manson is president of Catholics for Choice, a group that says it represents the majority of American Catholics who support some level of legal access to abortion. © ABC News Jamie Manson is president of Catholics for Choice, a group that says it represents the majority of American Catholics who support some level of legal access to abortion.

"Forced motherhood is never a good thing. And to deny someone what is for them, essential care, is wrong. I think it’s a sin," Manson said.

The American Public Health Association, in a brief to the Supreme Court last year, said that abortion bans will lead to “elevated risks of maternal mortality….infant mortality…[and] traumas …[that can] trigger inter-generational harm.”

“Look at the big picture. Since Roe v. Wade, it’s been 63 million abortions. That’s a lot. A lot of loss of life,” Lori said when asked about the analysis. “The answer is to provide the best medical care we can.”

American women who seek abortion services are disproportionately lower-income and women of color, studies show. © ABC News American women who seek abortion services are disproportionately lower-income and women of color, studies show.

Critics of the Church and other faith-based initiatives opposing abortion say they prioritize bans over lobbying for expansion of social programs that support life, like a higher minimum wage, nutrition assistance, and paid family leave.

The 14 states that have had the most restrictive abortion laws, including Texas, invest the least in policies and programs for women and children, according to a 2020 analysis by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, a social policy think tank.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, which has led a campaign against abortion rights in America. © ABC News Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, which has led a campaign against abortion rights in America.

“I don’t think we should underestimate the generosity either of the charities or services we provide, or of God’s people,” Lori said. "The church in Texas is stepping up to the plate. They've kind of, again, given us a preview and I think a very helpful preview of what’s to come.”

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From ABC News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon