Pregnant. The test is back and the result is clear: pregnant. Now what?
In any number of circumstances, this would be a joyous moment for a woman and her family. But in more than a few, this moment is punctuated by fear, worry and confusion. It is into this very space and experience that dozens of pregnancy resource centers across the state step day after day, striving to serve, empower and support these women and families.
“We are here for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy,” shared Linda Saccomano, Executive Director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Denver. “We know that unplanned pregnancy is part of our shared humanity. It’s been around almost since the beginning of time, so instead of putting it in a in a shaming light, we want to bring it out into the open. And we want women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy to have a safe place to go, a place where they won’t be judged, a place where they will be cared for.”
With the tagline “Care. Compassion. Always,” Saccomano said Alternatives Pregnancy Center aims to get to know each woman in her unique circumstances and to build relationships, “so that they feel like they can truly be cared for, truly be heard and truly be safe. And so we meet these women every day.”
“I feel that we are educating women and helping them know what their options are,” said Katie Laven, RN, a nurse manager at the Glenwood Springs Pregnancy Center. “We have heard from former clients that they felt like abortion was their only option. They didn’t know that there was any other option. And so we want them to know what their options are and show them their strengths and help them see that they can do things they might not realize they could do. Many women say they did not want to get an abortion. They didn’t know that they could do anything else. So we’re helping them with their wishes and empowering them to be able to do something else.”
A common theme among the professionals interviewed, empowerment plays a huge role in the work of these pregnancy resource centers. While their clients are consistently being sold the one choice of abortion, these centers offer alternative systems of support to empower women to become mothers, all without fearmongering or coercion.
“I experienced an unplanned pregnancy when I was 17, so I know firsthand the feelings of isolation, the feelings of fear, the feelings of my unique circumstances,” Saccomano shared.“What was I going to do? What was the father of the baby going to do? There was not a place for me to go for help. And so as I now fast forward, that was many years ago. I now have two beautiful daughters and four grandchildren that are all making an impact on this world. If I had made a different decision, if I hadn’t had support — and fortunately my family was very supportive — they’re lives that might not be in this world today.”
Based on her personal experience and the clients she’s encountered over the years, Saccomano couldn’t disagree more with the characterization that abortion is a woman’s only option, saying, “It is a passion of mine and I believe that women should know that if they want to carry their pregnancy to term and if men want to know, I can support her through that.”
“I’m actually post-operative myself,” shared Stacy Swagger of Cañon City Pregnancy Center, “and so I have walked that road and I know what that looks like. I know that I did not have the support I needed. And I don’t want anyone to be full of shame. I don’t want to degrade anyone. I don’t want to condemn anyone. I want to love people where they’re at so we can bring healing regardless of what they do, whatever they decide.”
As the Colorado State Legislature considers a slate of pro-abortion bills dubbed “RHEA 2.0,” there has been much shared about the work and mission of pregnancy resource centers. Their marketing has been called deceptive and aspersions have been cast on their work and mission. In reality, though, the dedicated staff in these pregnancy resource centers consider it a privilege to receive the women and families who enter their doors with care, compassion and love — certainly without judgment or coercion.
“It’s a gift and a privilege to work in this space where we get to affirm life from conception to natural death,” said Sara Lugo, program director at Marisol Health in Denver, which offers comprehensive, life-affirming physical and mental health services as well as other resources for expectant mothers and their families, as many pregnancy resource centers do. “We’ve really been able to meet that need by meeting women and their families in such a vulnerable time and really walking with them so that they can really thrive as parents, really providing that support is really crucial to the building the family.”
“First off, we have to go into the room with an open heart and an open mind and allow God to let us see them through his eyes, because we don’t know their story,” said Tamra Axworthy, Executive Director of A Caring Pregnancy Center in Pueblo, summing up the work of these sorts of clinics. “But that is the beauty of what we do in the pregnancy center. We’re not a 15-minute walk-through clinic. We have time to sit down and let her share and go through her challenges. And all the while, we’re listening for those cues, what those barriers might be. It’s completely client-led. She is the one coming to those responses on her own just through the course of conversation. And it’s so cool to see how God and the Spirit just moves in those rooms and allows us those opportunities to share.”
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