One of the best kept secrets in Maryland are the roles that the more than 40 Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes and Adoption Agencies play in assisting women who have chosen to bring the gift of life from God into the world. Regardless of the circumstances that cause an unplanned pregnancy, the sanctity of the life of an innocent child is not diminished.
I conducted a survey of crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes and adoption agencies to provide support for the effort to pass the “Pregnant Women Support Act” which was featured here in The Catholic Review (Jan. 17). This legislation would provide monies to enhance and expand the services they provide.
If you have not visited your nearest crisis pregnancy center, you should, and discover the wonderful work that they do on behalf of these women and their families. It is also important to find out what services they would like to provide if they had the volunteers, finances and adequate space.
Although it is hard to prioritize the center’s individual needs, advertising in the mass media is crucial and having people informing school nurses and guidance counselors, local physicians, pastors and anyone who would know of a women in a crisis pregnancy situation.
Most if not all centers give free pregnancy tests and personal counseling as to what private and public services are available. The most effective service the centers provide are sonogram tests because the centers who have them report that the decision to bring the baby to term ranges from 85 – 98 percent. However, sonogram machines are expensive.
Most counselors at the centers are volunteers who are trained to assist these women, and having computer access to information of the various public and private resources is so important because it lessens the stress on the expectant moms who do not know what to do. So keeping this information up-to-date is crucial.
State-of-the-art office equipment like computers, fax machines and a modern telephone system which are taken for granted elsewhere in the marketplace are needed in many centers because communication is so important.
The on-going needs of these women can vary considerably and currently their only support is limited by the number of individuals, churches, organizations, societies and fraternities supporting these centers.
I have personally been involved in getting help to move women into new living accommodations, assisting in fundraising efforts, collecting clothes, baby equipment and formula, and supporting efforts to find satellite locations for a crisis pregnancy center. I know firsthand how grateful the executive directors are when their center’s needs are being met.
Following is a sampling of the survey results which I conducted. I am hopeful that it will encourage more people to become pro-active in this ministry.
• Of the 21 Pregnancy Centers who recorded incoming calls in the first 9 months of this year, they received more than 33,000 phone calls for assistance and served more than 13,000 clients.
• Although not all centers provide furniture, such as cribs, or maternity and infant clothes, those that did reported disbursing over $66,000 in value.
• Since the responses represented half of the centers, you can reliably double the number of clients assisted, phone calls received and the value of items disbursed.
Deacon R.W. “Monti” Montalto serves at, St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Hampden and is a member of the archdiocesan Respect Life Committee.