Friday, 16 April 2021

Why Pregnancy Help Centers Matter in the Aftermath of Florence

As Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas and Virginia this past week, area pregnancy centers hung tight through the storm to continue serving families in need, even if in a more limited capacity.

In anticipation of the storm, the Pregnancy Help Center of Chesterfield in Chester, Virginia closed its office Friday and nearly postponed its volunteer training that was scheduled for Saturday, praying that their building wouldn’t suffer any more damage: Earlier this year, after several inches of rain, the sewer backed up into the center, resulting in about $2,000 worth of clean-up.

But clean-up, building repairs, and material losses are just some of the costs that organizations face in the aftermath of natural disasters like Florence. For non-profit ministries like pregnancy help centers, time is a major cost as well, as a closed office could mean missed opportunities to help women in need of pregnancy options counseling and material assistance as they ride out the storm.

It could even mean losing women and babies to Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities that have a track record of preying on pregnant women in the wake of catastrophes.

In 2001, Planned Parenthood leapt at the opportunity to offer free abortions in New York City following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11. A few years later, the abortion outlet gave away chemical abortifacients following Hurricane Katrina, and just last year, when Hurricane Harvey swept through the Gulf of Mexico, the pro-abortion Lilith Fund raised money for abortions in Texas.

In times of desperation like these, having an abortion can seem all the more tempting, as resources diminish, the future becomes uncertain, and pressure builds.

Tweet This: In times of desperation like these, having an abortion can seem all the more tempting, which makes pregnancy centers all the more important.

As local pregnancy help centers grapple with these challenges on the ground, Heartbeat International—a global network of 2,600 affiliated pregnancy help centers—strives to meet the needs of pregnancy centers from their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

Through the organization’s HALO Fund (Helping Affiliated Life-Affirming Organizations), the network has provided more than $37,000 worth of disaster relief since 2017. From Hurricane Harvey last summer to a fire in Little Rock Arkansas earlier this year, the organization has mobilized its supporters and affiliates to take action through giving.

Along with financial support, Option Line—the organization’s 24/7 hotline (1-800-712-HELP) which answers about 33,000 calls, emails, texts, and live chats per month—was at the ready to take the calls of women and men seeking assistance in the face of the storm, temporarily standing in for pregnancy centers when their brick and mortar locations are unfit to open.

“Though pregnancy help centers are accustomed to responding to an array of challenges and crises, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary support,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. “Our generous network of affiliates and donors and our phenomenal team at Option Line have ensured that women and their babies will continue to receive compassionate care, even in the most trying of times.”

Already, Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews, and volunteers have pulled hundreds from the flash floods and destruction. As of Monday, 500,000 homes and businesses were still without power in North and South Carolina, and tragically, 25 people, including two infants—one three months old and the other eight months—lost their lives in the storm. 

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According to CBS News, “An economic consulting firm says Hurricane Florence may result in between $17 billion and $22 billion in lost economic output and property damage. That would put Florence in the Top 10 of costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S.”

Although costs may climb past even those estimates, the underlying humanitarian needs of the pregnancy help community are priceless.

“The impact of Florence goes well beyond these early days of flooding and devastation,” Godsey said. “For many pregnancy center clients, the effects will persist in major life decisions they make in the next several days and weeks. It’s critical that life-affirming centers are restored to functionality to walk with them and empower them to choose life in their time of need.”

Heartbeat International—a network of more than 2,600 local pregnancy help centers throughout the world—accepts donations to pregnancy centers affected by catastrophes like Hurricane Florence through its HALO Fund. To make a gift today, click here.

Katie Franklin

Katie Franklin is a writer for Heartbeat International. She previously served as director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013. Katie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Miles and their daughter.

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