Real Hope Amid the Hubbub
We don’t need hot weather to keep things overheated in response to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court. It’s a potential political apocalypse or triumph, depending on which press release you’re reading. The level of emotion betrays how the Court has become as overly politicized as just about everything else in American life. And the focal point of so much of the furor is abortion.
One of the decisions that Justice Kennedy was a typically crucial factor in involved crisis pregnancy centers in California. I think of Women’s Care Centers I’ve been to in Indiana and Baltimore as examples, where a woman is met with a warm welcome and integral care. The women who tend to get involved in crisis pregnancy work do so out of love. And reading one of the amicus briefs in the case might help get us out of not-so-occasionally unhinged commentary that leaves people feeling helpless.
When Brooke North found herself pregnant in 2015, life had not equipped her for motherhood. At 11, she left an abusive father for a series of foster homes, where she encountered more abuse, and suffered kidnapping and rape as a young adult. She went to Hope Pregnancy Center in Illinois, on the referral of a government assistance program, wanting support and essential help preparing to be a mother to her child. As in many of these centers, she encountered mentoring, counseling and basic-skills help. Hope, like many centers, ties attendance into an incentive program that helps a woman earn some of her child’s — and her own — material needs. With “mommy bucks” she would shop for diapers, wipes and clothes.
In the following year, Brooke met a man to be a father to her child. They married and found themselves expecting. She naturally found herself back at Hope, this time in less of a crisis, but still in need. Brooke and her husband first saw their baby thanks to an ultrasound machine at Hope. As the amicus brief written by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer on behalf of the Catholic Association explains, Brooke’s husband found fatherhood “daunting” and Hope helped here, too, preparing him to be a father in the most basic of ways, increasing his enthusiasm to accompany Brooke as partner in their new endeavor.
This is the work of these centers and this is the stuff of true hope — walking with people so they can live in the present and not be overwhelmed by the prospect of the future. About Hope, Brooke explained: “They opened up the center to help moms in need. They do not pressure you not to get an abortion if you want one. But they are there to help women have their children.” And it provides so much more beyond that.
In her testimony, Brooke explains: “There should be more of them across the country. There are so many people struggling, and the center is the one place that is the ‘go to’ to guarantee success as a parent. They help with referrals, vouchers. I would like pregnancy centers to be all over the place. It is not just for the parents, but the kids. The people who donate their time and money help not just women, but their children. The people at the center are the sweetest, most caring, full-of-energy people.” Brooke couldn’t be the woman she is today without the help of Hope.
Conversations about politics these days can be traumatic, especially about abortion, and certainly if you’ve had any kind of personal experience with it. The yelling is no balm for tender hearts. Brooke’s life was unquestionably in need of hope and healing, and Hope provided her with what she needed for the most important thing in this world: motherhood.
Abortion is about so much more than winning debates and elections. It’s about the most intimate decisions involving life and love, often intertwined with fears and needs beyond the reach of an op-ed, a segment on a television news show or our social media feeds. Brooke’s story is one about fostering hope out of a hellish experience. Would that every word of pending political crisis be an invitation to support a place like Hope or a woman like Brooke, or a child in a foster home who needs to know what a loving family looks like.
COPYRIGHT 2018 United Feature Syndicate