This column is an opinion by Tia Gerwatoski, a volunteer with the group 40 Days for Life in Calgary. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

One of the unfortunate misconceptions surrounding the abortion debate is that what we call pro-life advocacy ends with the child’s birth — abandoning the mother, her newborn, and any sort of responsibility after that act. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

With the subject of abortion access in the news, following last month’s decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the abortion protections in Roe v. Wade, I think it’s important for you to know that those of us involved in this movement in Canada strive to elevation women by providing knowledge, time and assistance, along with community support to empower them if they decide to follow through with their pregnancy.

Fortunately for Canadians who make that decision, there is a wealth of resources, support and care available.

Canada has pregnancy resource centers in towns and cities from coast to coast, where the priority is to journey with mothers in understanding the resources and supports available to them if they decide to keep their baby.

Network hub

Studies show that, although reasoning is multifaceted, a large percentage of women have abortions due to a lack of financial resources. Many pregnancy resource centers act as a hub of networking and connection to deal with issues such as this; they have access to a wide scope of referrals to other agencies for a range of housing options, including emergency housing, long-term housing, and low-income housing, as well as information on subsidies.

Financial mentors are provided and referrals are made to agencies that educate on credit counselling, debt consolidation and financial education so that women can create a plan to move forward successfully. One such organization, Choice 42, has provided substantial help, offering to pay rent, electricity bills, and babysitting fees for women as they go to school, and providing a full baby registry to any pregnant women needing help, including everything a baby would need in her first year of life.

After witnessing this community willingly model love by means of the good of another, I knew I needed to be involved in it. I have seen the welcoming, comfort and security of these courageous mothers get access to, and the confidence and healthy skills they gain to be competitive in today’s society. In one case, I have even seen the beauty of a mother later in her life creating the same initiative to contribute and pay forward what she once received.

Expansive umbrella

Every woman is in a unique situation, and these centers provide an expansive umbrella under which care can be integrated on an individualized basis. The list is extensive: personal, couple and family counseling, access to food and dietary material, health and well-being programs, legal advice, family violence supports, transportation and activities information, education training and skills, life and parenting skills, prenatal classes , and addictions counseling, to name a few.

Many cities have educational programs that empower pregnant teenagers to finish their high school education while nurturing their pregnancy or newborn. Materials are provided regarding adoption options, and when a woman is open to this choice, connections with adoption agencies can be made where the biological mother can be involved in the placement process to help choose a loving family.

A high priority is placed on journeying with women before and after their decision to provide community and ongoing support, rather than having her journey in isolation.

We call what we do “pro-life,” not just because we’re concerned for the unborn child, but also because of our concern for the life that follows.

Critics have accused pregnancy care centers of being deceptive when it comes to abortion. This is not the case. Pregnancy Care Canada executive director Dr. Laura Lewis has stated that “Pregnancy Care Canada is committed to providing honest, medically accurate, permission-based information on all pregnancy options. Annually, each center signs an affiliate agreement that reflects this shared commitment.”

Decision-making is free from external influence, and all clients are made aware that these centers do not provide or assist in arranging abortions prior to receiving services.

Seeing something greater

One might question where these resources came from, and how they have been sustained. The majority of pregnancy care centers are completely funded by donations; individuals willing and able to give of their time, talent and treasure. The most common reason for their generosity: they see something greater than themselves.

Are these resources enough? No. Canada can do more, by increasing parental benefit leave, beginning child benefit payments at 12 weeks of pregnancy, and increasing funding to pregnancy care centres, rather than reducing it.

We don’t just care about the act of giving birth; we care about the life of the woman, her child and her future. No woman should ever be in the position where she feels she has no help or support, and pregnancy resource centers strive to provide the countless resources and aids that should have always surrounded her.

There are a lot of things people disagree about with abortion, but when it comes to providing the means necessary to elevate women after they make a life-affirming choice, this contentious issue finds common ground.

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