CareNet, a network of affiliated pregnancy care centers across North America, has statistics that certainly keep the organization motivated.
One that stands out: Eight out of 10 women who visit a CareNet affiliated pregnancy center end up choosing life for their unborn children. CareNet has 1,100 affiliated centers that provide alternatives to abortion, including material support for women and men and their unborn children and parenting support and education, among other resources.
More than 1,300 people attended CareNet’s national conference in St. Louis in early September. Workshop sessions covered topics such as client care, leadership and development, and medical and legal issues associated with operating a pregnancy center. CareNet hosts the annual conference to support the work of its affiliated centers; but ultimately, these centers are part of a bigger picture of promoting a culture of “pro-abundant life,” a term used by CareNet president and CEO Roland Warren.
The term is rooted in the Gospel, in which Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Abundant life is linking the physical and spiritual aspects, said Warren, a former president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is help pro-life people expand their perspective in terms of how they think about this,” he said. There are two pillars that hold up that framework, said Warren: God’s design for family, and God’s call to discipleship; the latter is where the Church has a role in modeling family life for those who find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies.
Warren cited the birth of Christ as perhaps the most well-known unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy centers have a role in encouraging women to ascribe themselves to the same virtue and character that Mary did when she was faced with an unplanned pregnancy, Warren said.
“Mary had all this uncertainty, all of these things she did not know,” he said. “How was Joseph going to respond? How was I going to take care of myself? Instead of focusing on the uncertainty of what she didn’t know, she focused on the certainty of what she did know: That she was carrying a life — and it was not a life worth sacrificing, it was a life worth sacrificing for.”
Abortion clinics often attempt to get the woman to make a decision to have an abortion based on the uncertainty of what the she doesn’t know, disregarding the certainty of what she does know, she said.
Likewise, in an effort to make sure Mary’s unplanned pregnancy didn’t become a crisis pregnancy, God sent an angel to Joseph, who initially “wanted to put her away quietly,” Warren said. “I see a similarity in the perspective of what happens to a guy” in an abortion situation. “He has hopes and dreams for his life with Mary that do not include a child at this time and in this way.”
Warren said the pro-abundant life movement should be encouraging men in a potential abortion situation to respond in a way that Joseph did. The angel sent by God told Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.
“When you’re talking about a pro-abundant life perspective, you’re actually talking about two sanctities here, not just one,” Warren said. “It’s not just the sanctity of life, but it’s also the sanctity of marriage and family as God designed it.”
The pro-life movement has lost the narrative of connecting the abortion issue to the sanctity of marriage and family, he added. “From a Christian perspective, we should absolutely be doing this. Eighty-six percent of the women who have abortions are unmarried. If you want to reduce abortion, you have to encourage marriage.” The Church has a role in that, he said.
Churches can come alongside a woman and man who are facing a pregnancy decision, and encourage them to build a strong marriage if possible; and if it’s not possible, then model that for them. “The goal is to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said, “to come as you are but not to stay as you came.”
>> CareNet at a glance
• 1,100 affiliated pregnancy centers in North America
• 33,000 volunteers at these centers
• 22% growth in number of CareNet centers since 2009
• More than 1.2 million free ultrasound scans
• More than 1.1 million received parenting support and education
• More than 1.7 million people heard the Gospel message
• More than 1.7 million have received material resources
• More than 3 million people received free pregnancy tests
• 8 out of 10 women considering abortion who visit a CareNet center choose life for their unborn children
56 pregnancy centers located in Missouri are affiliated with CareNet or
Heartbeat International (13 are within the boundaries of the
Archdiocese of St. Louis, including Thrive St. Louis, Birthright St.
Charles and South County Pregnancy Help Center) See www.care-net.org/find-a-pregnancy-center
To learn more about CareNet, visit care-net.org.