It’s a post-Roe world and life appears to be winning.
But even though the issue of abortion now moves back to the American people to decide, there will still be women who need help with unexpected pregnancies.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, says there is a treasure trove of resources available for those who need them. They just need to know where to look.
“There is a pregnancy resource center movement with well over 3,000 pregnancy care centers, pregnancy resource centers, and so typically they are in your local community,” she explains. “These resource centers will provide things like pregnancy tests or ultrasounds or STD tests or health care or diapers, formula, etc., housing even in some cases.”
There’s also a well-developed network to help with finding these resources, Mancini says.
“The two umbrella groups that you would definitely want to check out are Heartbeat International, which is in Ohio, but many of the pregnancy care centers are under their umbrella,” she explains. “Then the second one is Care Net, which is based out of Northern Virginia, and they have a wonderful hotline.”
We also cover these stories:
- The Supreme Court rules in favor of Washington state football coach Joe Kennedy and his right to prayer.
- Justice Clarence Thomas suggests the Supreme Court should reconsider a prior ruling making it more difficult to sue media organizations.
- New voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press finds more than 1 million American voters have switched over to the Republican Party.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Doug Blair: My guest today is Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. Jeanne, welcome to the show.
Jeanne Mancini: Thanks so much for having me, Doug.
Blair: Of course. Well, obviously, given the news that happened on Friday, this is a pretty happy occasion and something that we should definitely be talking about, sort of like, what are the next steps? So to start off with, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, what are some of the changes that women will start to see as a result of that change?
Mancini: OK. So, first of all, something that I’ve been thinking a lot about is that this isn’t a moment necessarily to spike the football. I mean, it is a moment to definitely give thanks and—I mean, boy, did we think that we’d be here in our lifetime? I don’t think I did. But it’s really that we’re moving into a new season.
There’s a great Winston Churchill quote from the Battle of El Alamein, right after that, and he was asked, “Do you think this is the end of World War II?”, of course, and he said, “No, it’s not the end. And I don’t think it’s the beginning of the end, but perhaps it’s the end of the beginning.” And that’s, I think, a good way for us to view where we are right now.
So the next phase, I would say there’s two critical steps. So one, of course, the question of pro-life protections returned to the people of America, the American people. So, those who vote. It returns to the legislative branches, both at the national level and then even more importantly, at the state level. So we’re very ready for that at the March for Life with our state march initiative, and I can drill down that if you’d like.
But the second pillar is strengthening our safety net for women and men facing unexpected pregnancies.
So it’s already very strong. And I think that all of the wonderful resources out there for women facing unexpected pregnancy, it’s a little bit of the untold story of the pro-life movement, and I’d be happy to drill down on that, but given our new scenario, I think all people of goodwill are called to increase our support so that no woman ever feels sort of backed into a corner. And I’m hearing all sorts of great news stories and I’d be happy to share some of those related to this topic.
Blair: Well, that’s wonderful. It sounds like there is a very strong network right now of resources for pregnant women who are looking for, and I think you mentioned men as well, so fathers who are looking for resources who are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.
Can you maybe go through some of what that looks like? What does the safety net look like right now for people who are going through this type of unexpected pregnancy who need some assistance?
Mancini: Great. So collectively, there is a pregnancy resource center movement with well over 3,000 pregnancy care centers, pregnancy resource centers, and so typically they are in your local community. You may not have heard about them but look into it.
These resource centers will provide things like pregnancy tests or ultrasounds or STD tests or health care or diapers, formula, etc., housing even in some cases. So these resource centers provide over $270 million in free resources to men and women facing unexpected pregnancies every single year. So that’s just one part of it.
I’d say the other part of that is maternity homes, which are much more stable and long-term for women that are in this scenario.
In my local community, within a 20-mile radius, there are two of these homes and women can live there for two years-plus as they’re having their babies. In fact, one of our speakers at the March for Life this year was a recipient of just a tremendous maternity home down in this area called Mary’s Shelter.
So that’s another very, very important part of the movement. I think, again, people of goodwill, if we can give and support these PRCs and these maternity homes, that’s incredible.
But above and beyond that, there are many, many other state initiatives and we’re beginning to see some good federal initiatives that will support the families while the baby’s in its earliest stages of life.
So for example, you may or may not know that when Texas enacted its “heartbeat” laws, that was back in September in 2021, it simultaneously—the government of Texas passed a $100 million funding bill to fund women and men in these very scenarios.
So this was very similar. It would provide very similar resources to what pregnancy care centers provide. So diapers, formula, food, clothing, cribs, all of those kinds of things for mom and dads early as the baby has just been born or is about to be born.
Mississippi has a similar funding stream and a handful of other states have this as well. So I think we’ll see more and more of this and certainly new and creative bills at the federal level. I know Sen. [Marco] Rubio introduced a new bill on Friday that is along these lines and more, and so I’m excited to see more and more of this at the federal level.
Blair: So it sounds like there are oodles of resources out there for women who are looking to get some assistance with a pregnancy that maybe they’re not able to handle. We keep hearing these advocates for pro-abortion causes claim that with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, women will be forced to have children and that there’s no support structure, but it just sounds like that’s not true.
Mancini: It’s definitely not true. Well, for starters, women have so many options in front of them and depending on which state, abortion isn’t illegal in that state.
So as we know just, I mean, quick lay of the land, that 21 states had bills that would be very life-protective and so that’s going into action this week, they’re being enacted this week. Nineteen states had very pro-abortion bills, so these are the New Yorks, the Californias of the country. And then nine states had some pro-life protections but that could be increased.
So for starters, that’s the lay of the land legally, but certainly there are so many wonderful supports and options if a woman doesn’t feel ready to raise the child on her own so she could get all of the resources that I just mentioned.
And of course, another beautiful and what I would say is a noble option is that of choosing adoption. There are more than half a million couples that are waiting to adopt a child at any time in this country and there are only about 20,000 infant adoptions every year in the United States. I’m not saying that it’s easy on anyone, but it is a beautiful and certainly a life-affirming choice, adoption.
Blair: So you’ve mentioned a couple of different places. These maternity homes in particular are interesting to me. Are these mostly funded by other private citizens? Are they backed by the government? How do these places sort of work?
Mancini: Private citizens. They are rarely backed by the government. I do know of a handful that have received government funding but they’re the exception to the rule versus the rule.
So it’s not impossible to receive some government funding to support these moms, and hopefully that will change more in that direction, but for the most part, these are supported by private citizens and by wonderful foundations that want to affirm life.
Blair: Are they mostly for people who are just getting right off their feet, who just sort of have, “I need a little bit of assistance”? I know you mentioned that maternity homeless can have people there up for two years, but one of the accusations that sometimes we’ll hear from the pro-abortion crowd is that we “only care about the baby while it’s in the womb and then maybe slightly afterward,” but there’s nothing sort of long term to support mothers. Is there any other resource that people who are sort of struggling to raise a child might be able to use as well?
Mancini: Well, I can speak just anecdotally to one of these maternity homes that I know. So women can live there with their babies, they say, for two years but often the case is that they live longer than two years at the homes and they come back and get support throughout life, whether it’s emotional or counseling or what have you. So for sure, that’s the case.
I think that in some ways, though, what you’re getting at is a continued need for our community organizations, churches in particular, to be supportive of life all throughout life. Not only at the very beginning stages, but all throughout life to protect the dignity of the human person.
But there’s no lack of support for young moms facing an unexpected pregnancy in our country today. Some places have more support than others, and I think you’re going to see a lot of communities rise up to the challenge.
One case and point, so I was blessed to be out at Focus on the Family just a few weeks ago and I know they’re starting a new initiative so that no mom feels like she’d be unsupported in these moments.
In, a little bit closer to home for me, Gaithersburg, Maryland, I heard of a great church there called St. John Neumann that is, again, doing some really creative and wonderful things so that no woman in their town in Gaithersburg will feel backed into a corner to choose abortion. Even though she’s got that option in front of her in Maryland, but they’ll be doing everything possible to come alongside her.
I think what we might be seeing as well is just families volunteering to take in and shepherd and shelter young moms so that she gets that really personal love and hospitality in moments like this, which is also another beautiful thing.
Blair: Now, one of the things that sometimes we’ll hear from people who are against life, who are on the more pro-abortion side, is that these facilities are not actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that a facility like a Planned Parenthood would be better instead. What is your response to people who say, “Let’s just have Planned Parenthood deal with this”?
Mancini: Gosh, I have a lot of thoughts about that, but my immediate one is that Planned Parenthood has a financial interest. They’ve got a conflict of interest because they make money off of abortions.
And these pregnancy care centers are nonprofit and they’re operating on a shoestring budget. They’re not getting the millions of dollars that Planned Parenthoods get from the federal government and there’s no financial interest at stake there. I mean, really, the interest at stake is the good of the mom and the good of the baby, so that would just be a starting point about these things.
I’ve seen some really interesting studies about women who go into Planned Parenthood, and while Planned Parenthood in some ways to the other side has a very strong brand, nobody’s going to argue that, the reality is that when women go into those clinics, they feel like they’re a number and they’re treated like a number basically and kind of exploited.
They don’t feel like they’re treated [as] a unique person who has a unique life growing within her and is treated with great dignity. That’s just anecdotal, but interesting.
And I want to say that came out of heroic media, perhaps in Missouri, but someone did some really good—or I’m forgetting, but the kind of research where they were interviewing women coming out of Planned Parenthood and were able to pull this information together about what women aren’t receiving there.
Blair: Now, seeing as we do have all of these resources that are more pro-life, we’ve talked about a bunch of these different things that women can use if they’re in a situation where they need this type of assistance, how does somebody find that type of resource? I know that there’s so many of them, is there like a website that catalogs all of these places? Is there some form of resource that they can find to find the resources?
Mancini: Yes, absolutely. I’m pulling it up online as we’re talking right now. But the two umbrella groups that you would definitely want to check out are Heartbeat International, which is in Ohio, but many of the pregnancy care centers are under their umbrella, and then the second one is Care Net, which is based out of Northern Virginia, and they have a wonderful hotline.
And I’m just looking it up right now. I don’t have it memorized, which I absolutely should, and hopefully I’ll have it up here in just a minute. Here we go. It’s 1-800-712-HELP. It’s called Option Line and you can also check it out if you prefer not to talk to someone at optionline.org. …
Blair: Well, that’s excellent that there is that resource that’s cataloging all of these places where women can go.
I guess as a final question as we wrap-up here—there’s so many different things that these women can go and do, there’s those maternity homes that you mentioned, there’s the crisis pregnancy centers. How can Americans best support women, and to an extent fathers, who need this type of assistance during a pregnancy and after the fact on their own?
Obviously they can support the pregnancy centers and all these other places, but what can they be doing in their daily lives to really make a difference in these people’s lives?
Mancini: What a great question. So the first thing is that when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy what she longs to hear and needs to hear more than anything is, “You’ve got this, you can do this, and I’m going to be here for you to help you with it.”
Really, that’s what she wants more than anything. She doesn’t want to be told that she needs to get rid of the child or what have you. So first and foremost, just to be a friend, a genuine friend, and to tell her she’s got this. And then to be willing to give sacrificially in different ways, whatever that might look like.
I know of a scenario very close to me where a brother took in a sister to come and live with him when she was pregnant for many, many years. She was in law school and needed to take a semester out of law school to be able to give birth and then choose adoption, which was really hard, but being that family member that’s making the sacrifices, that hurt.
But love saves lives, sacrifice begets fruit, and so living this as beautifully and sacrificially as we can in our own lives with the people around us.
Blair: Wonderful. Well, that was Jeanne Mancini, the president of March for Life. Thank you so much for giving us all of these resources.
And please, if you are going through an unexpected pregnancy or you need some help, need some resources, check out some of those resources that she just talked about and know that you are loved and that there is a bright future ahead of you.
So thank you so much again, Jeanne.
Mancini: Thanks so much for having me.
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