Catholic agencies and church expect to help more women and newborns after Dobbs

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NASHVILLE — With Roe’s reversal, Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Nashville, and the agency’s adoption and pregnancy counseling staff expect the need for these services to increase.

“Our society is going to be forced to provide more compassion and support to mothers who don’t want to place their children up for adoption,” Orr said.


“We’re going to have to develop systems that support a more phased approach to parenting, so it’s not a proposition for a mother/family to be faced with a new baby they don’t think to be able to handle,” she said. the Tennessee Register, the diocesan newspaper of Nashville.

“In societies of the past, an extended multi-generational family helped raise children, and there was a lot more ‘sharing’ of child-rearing responsibilities, so the mother didn’t have to completely sever ties with her child,” Orr added.

This is why Catholic Charities will emphasize not only its adoption services, but also its pregnancy counseling.

“I think this is a great opportunity for our agency to focus our pregnancy counseling program outside of adoption,” said Julie Bolles, a Catholic Charities therapist who works with individuals and families.

“I think we will have more opportunities to advise and provide support and, above all, to inform women of their options in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, so that they can make the decision that is best for them” , she said.

For their part, the Catholic Bishops of Tennessee pledged to “redouble our efforts to support mothers, fathers and children at every stage of life” and said they pray “for all who face pregnancies, planned and unplanned”.

In a joint statement, Bishops J. Mark Spalding of Nashville, David P. Talley of Memphis, and Richard F. Stika of Knoxville said they welcomed the June 24 decision in Dobbs and thanked the court “for its careful consideration constitutional issues surrounding abortion”. and for having ruled “in favor of the right to life for the unborn child”.

“The arguments in court made it clear that our ever-expanding scientific knowledge has identified the fact that everything essential to growing human life is present from the moment of conception,” the bishops said.

“Only time and food are needed to advance this life, created in the likeness and image of God with human dignity enshrined by the Creator in each of us as his children,” they added.

The court’s overturning of Roe puts abortion policy decisions in the hands of the states. At least half plan to ban or restrict abortions with this ruling in place, and 13 states have “trigger” laws that were to ban abortion if the Dobbs ruling overturns Roe.

Tennessee is one of those with such a law: almost all abortions will be illegal in the state within 30 days of the court ruling. The law includes an exception to protect the life of the mother.

In the Diocese of Nashville, Catholic Charities makes sure women and couples in Middle Tennessee are aware of what the agency has to offer by updating its service materials and contact lists, and sharing them with area crisis programs, hospitals, OB-GYN offices, churches and schools. .

“A lot of the women and couples we talk to come from referrals,” said Amanda Bennett, adoptions and pregnancy counseling supervisor for Catholic Charities.

“We provide education and support to women and couples and ensure they know all their options” going forward, she said.

“It’s about walking with the mother and empowering her to make the best decision when she feels overwhelmed, giving her that voice to be able to say whatever she wants,” she added. .

“We want to increase services for families across the spectrum, from providing unplanned pregnancy counseling, to mothers and couples who wish to make an adoption plan, and to those who have an unplanned pregnancy and who want to be parents but need support,” said Kim Morris, clinical director of Catholic Charities.

“It’s about finding out how can we support them through their parenting journey and what supports do they need for their family to thrive?” she added.

Mulier Care offers a wide range of services to women facing a pregnancy crisis, both during pregnancy and after the baby is born, including through its mobile unit, the Pregnancy Help Center, which travels to places of Middle Tennessee offering pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and education on women’s options.

“We certainly believe that an increase in demand for our services is possible if Tennessee is allowed to enforce a ban on elective abortions,” said Paul Krog, co-director of the nonprofit organization.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, most of the women the center met had already decided “to have an abortion or are strongly inclined to do so”, he said.

In the aftermath of the decision, “precisely what that will look like is difficult to predict. It’s a very different world than it was in 1973,” he said. “The pregnancy support center will try to find a way to help women in the event of a crisis pregnancy despite everything.”

Among the services that Mulier Care offers to women are free lab-quality pregnancy tests, first trimester ultrasounds, and educational resources.

It also has a continuum of care program, which includes health care registration, free legal services, translation services, information regarding domestic violence assistance, tracing assistance adoption services, assisting with other pregnancy resource centers, advocacy and research assistance from OB-GYN.

“The pro-life movement in the United States is not just about advocacy, influencing policy and changing laws: it’s just the tip of the iceberg. At the core of the effort is helping the woman make life-affirming choices for herself and her child,” according to Mulier Care’s stated mission.

“Helping a woman in crisis should not only help her make the right decision to preserve the sanctity of life,” he says, “but also improve her livelihood and help her provide the best care for her newborn and to herself”.

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Peterson is on the staff of the Tennessee Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

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