Pregnancy help organizations worldwide have taken the necessary steps to adapt and continue serving clients during the coronavirus pandemic, many recognizing the need to go virtual to remain available for clients.
And while virtual outreach and services have been key, one pro-life leader said pregnancy help advocates must also remain ready to go deeper than ever before in serving and saving lives.
“I think the Covid-19 epidemic is a challenge for the pro-life movement,” said Alexandra Nadane, executive director of “Saint Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center for Parents and Children in Bucharest, Romania. “A challenge to get more involved, to develop professional counseling, information and support programs, more than we have done so far.”
“The need for professional people, resources, people of all ages to support life and women in pregnancy crisis feels more acute than ever,” Nadane told Pregnancy Help News.
Her southeastern European country has not been exempted from the pandemic’s fallout.
“In Romania, in COVID-19 context, most pregnant women or mothers remain unemployed,” Nadane said. “If they do not have a job and if the cities close, they will no longer be able to pay their rent.”
“Unfortunately, in Romania there are very few hosting centers for pregnant women and mothers,” she said. “We already have several women in pregnancy crisis who they were left without a home and it is difficult to find accommodation solutions for them.”
“Also, in Romania there are still very few counseling centers to support women in pregnancy crisis,” she added. “There are entire regions that do not even have a professional help center. We are looking for solutions.”
Nadane, the 2019 recipient of Heartbeat International's Heart of the Future Award, is also president of Romania for Life Association and was part of bringing the first-ever national pregnancy help conference to Romania, also last year.
She described some of the pandemic’s effects in Romania for Pregnancy Help News and also many of the virtual ways the pro-life community has risen to the challenge of serving clients and raising pro-life awareness amid the restrictions.
The number of pregnancy crisis cases increased in Romania following the social crisis created by the pandemic, Nadane said.
“Especially since we are in difficult times, the need for support is heightened,” she said. “In addition to the current pandemic, there will be three problems that will cause difficulties: fear, loneliness and economic depression.”
The "St. Alexandra the Empress" Counseling Center’s activity has moved online, she explained, to protect pregnant women, mothers with children and families in distress they support.
The center offers psychological counseling and social assistance sessions over the phone and online.
“We support people who are fired. People who have no food. People who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and their families remain in isolation,” she said. “We support pregnant women who will be born soon and are afraid to go to the hospital because of the COVID-19 epidemic. Many women who are pressured by doctors or relatives to have an abortion in the context of the epidemic.”
Her center organized an online meeting with all the participants at the first national pregnancy help conference. Nobody could have thought last October that the next time they would all gather would be online ad under these circumstances, Nadane said.
“We discussed how each one adapts during this period,” she recalled. “Most have moved or will move to the phone and online.”
The government banned all public events there attended by more than 1000 people on March 8, with additional restrictions emerging in the following days.
March is the Month for Life in Romania, typically with many accompanying events some of which were canceled this year due to the pandemic constraints.
In one significant example, the country’s March for Life, originally scheduled to take place live on March 28, and usually well attended, was rescheduled for May 17 and held online, with organizers reporting tens of thousands taking part.
Nadane said the Romania for Life Association had talked to several pro-life organizers in the country and decided upon having the OnlineMonthForLife.
The coalition organized several pro-life webinars during the month for adolescents, young people and various pro-life organizations in the country, she said.
Nadane held a pro-life webinar dedicated to users of social networks who are interested in the pro-life domain. The theme of the webinar was, “The experiences of women in pregnancy crisis and how we can support them.”
To provide hope and promote the good works being performed by people during the pandemic Nadane created a website site, faptepentruviata.ro (deeds for life).
“I post there the good deeds done by people and organizations to help the people, doctors and hospitals affected by COVID-19,” she said.
Following her lead, two of her friends, Iuliana Pîrvu and Georgiana Nistor, have opened new pro-life Facebook pages: Filme pentru viață (Films for Life) and Melodii pentru viață (Melody for Life).
Eliza-Maria Cloțea, president of Students for Life Romania, published a list of 10 ideas for pro-life activities that young people can do at home and online, Nadane said. Clotea has organized the pro-life webinars for teens and students.
And Pro Vita Iași, the pro-life department of the Iași Orthodox Archdiocese, makes pro-life banners with the messages and photos sent by the users of their social networks.
“They did a video reading from the book, “JOANNA. A Story about Down Syndrome,” Nadane said.
With schools having been closed and parents staying home with their children, Veronica Iani, an author of pro-life books for children, started writing stories based on ideas received from parents and children. And Ioana Revnic, a writer, teacher, and coordinator of the project "Tell me a story for the soul," organized reading workshops for children on Skype.
Going forward, among the pro-life outreach activities there is a summer school pro-life training program scheduled on-line for August 3-7 for young people in Romania ages 16 to 28 and titled, the "Future is pro-life."
Nadane said the virtual efforts thus far are only the beginning and pregnancy help organizations will need to continue being adaptable to meet the needs of women and families and save lives.
“It is clear that everything that has been built so far and what we are doing today is very little for what it would take,” she told Pregnancy Help News. “We hope to use the future to build as many activities and pro-life projects as possible.”
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Nadane is also grateful for ongoing support of the pro-life cause.
“And of course,” she said, “we pray to God to give people the thought of donating because without them we can’t develop our activity and we can’t support the unborn children, their mothers and their families.”