Joining the pregnancy help community more than 20 years ago, I was full of passion to uphold the sanctity of human life and committed to protecting those experiencing unplanned pregnancies. My engagement led to long hours and exhaustion.
A mentor advised me to manage my rest, remain steady, and be intentional about self-care because I hadn’t signed up for a sprint; instead, she said I was beginning a marathon.
As I’ve run this race, many have asked whether the abolition of Roe v. Wade would render pregnancy help organizations obsolete. I kindly explained that pregnancy help will always be needed, no matter what.
You see, pregnancy help isn’t about abortion; it is about people. People who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy like the teenage girl looking at two pink lines on a test strip, or the married couple with an empty bank account who were planning to wait, and those who are providing pregnancy help.
Did the overturning of Roe have an effect? Of course! Just not the outcome many assumed.
With the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, 50 balls were launched back into the states' courts, giving them the right to restrict, expand, regulate, ban, or ensure state constitutional rights to abortion, and this created new challenges for us.
Last year when Roe was overturned, I was leading a pregnancy medical clinic in Tennessee, a “life state,” where we had substantial donor, community, and legislative support. I was in southeast Tennessee bordered by states which had fewer restrictions and more access to abortion, making my city on I-75 part of the travel itinerary on the way to pregnancy termination. For some, we were their last chance for support and help.
How did we respond? We continued to serve our neighbors and visitors.
Some came hoping to choose life for their babies. Others were considering getting abortions across state lines or ordering chemical abortion pills through the mail. And there were those who were simply scared and had no idea what they were going to do. They all were offered support, education, medical services, and resources.
Ultimately, we kept running the marathon with a few new obstacles tossed in our path, like Google and Yelp censoring our advertising efforts and pro-abortion groups encouraging abortion activists to post fake negative reviews of our clinic in hopes of discouraging those seeking our services from getting the help they needed.
With affiliates in all 50 U.S. states and nearly half the countries in the world, I knew I was in for an intense change. Leading in a “life state” wasn’t easy, but it was still very different from what many of my colleagues in “abortion states” were experiencing.
Working on a national and international level proved to be shocking.
Before Dobbs, the landscape was easier to navigate. Now, challenges seem to be around almost every corner and always on the horizon.
Some states are making abortion a constitutional right, trying to prevent abortion pill reversals, adding deceptive advertising legislation directed at pregnancy centers (even though they already have truth in advertising laws in place), and the list goes on and on.
I quickly realized that we are no longer running a marathon, we have transitioned to a mud run!
The pro-abortion side will continue to spread misinformation and we'll face criticism. Those mudholes in this marathon won't stop us.
Some who have stood with us will step back as the spotlight gets brighter. That's okay, new team members are joining us.
Laws will be proposed, and some that are designed to prevent those experiencing unexpected pregnancies from getting the pregnancy help they are desperately seeking will even pass.
Tweet This: Pregnancy help isn’t about abortion; it is about people who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and those who provide pregnancy help.
We won't be discouraged. We have plenty of experience staying focused as we walk those balance beams.
We'll adapt, be flexible, resilient, and seek and learn new ways to connect with our clients, our community, and even those who oppose us. We will jump hurdles, climb walls, and reach back and help others scale those heights.
Tweet This: We'll adapt, be flexible, resilient, seek & learn new ways to connect w/our pregnancy help clients, our community & even those who oppose us
Together, we can make a difference by providing love, support, and care to those who need it most as we build a culture where women, men, babies, and families are protected and cherished. Lives are counting on our commitment to finish the race.
So, we will roll up our sleeves, pick up our feet, and keep running—or shall I say, mud running.
Editor's note: Tracie Shellhouse is Vice President of Ministry Services for Heartbeat International, the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in the U.S. and globally. Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.