WASHINGTON — A pro-life group has unveiled the latest project in its “strategic plan to prepare for a post-Roe America,” which encourages women experiencing unexpected pregnancies to reject abortion while providing them with resources to ensure that they do not “stand alone.”
A group of pro-life activists held a press conference at the Heritage Foundation’s headquarters Monday to discuss their efforts to provide resources other than abortion to assist women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. The event comes as the United States Supreme Court is slated to rule on a case that could have the impact of reversing or weakening Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Students for Life of America co-hosted the press conference, along with Heritage Action and featured women who've had personal experiences deciding whether or not to have an abortion.
“Every day, the pro-life community proves that we are here for women and their children, no matter how many times we’re accused of not caring,” SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement about the event. "But as we get closer to a post-Roe America, we’re taking our message straight to women across the country so that they know we are standing with them so that they never have to stand alone.”
Hawkins explained that the press conference’s timing on Valentine’s Day was no coincidence:
“On Valentine’s Day, we want women to know that they and their children — born and preborn — are loved. A predatory abortion industry making millions through ending young lives tells women that they are alone in the world and incapable of succeeding at home and work. They sell women short, and then they sell them an abortion, creating real fear in women. We want women to know that we are already working to help them and that no woman needs to stand alone.”
The press conference also coincided with the relaunch of the SFLA project “Standing With You,” a website that includes a database of pregnancy and parenting resources across the U.S. SFLA described the database as part of a “strategic plan to prepare for a post-Roe America.”
Hawkins announced that SFLA was “working with 41 universities to change their policies on campus so they no longer discriminate against pregnant and parenting women” before unveiling changes to the “Standing With You” website. The website provides women with an opportunity to “begin an immediate chat with a real person at Heartbeat International” and make an appointment at a nearby pregnancy resource center.
Women can also type in their ZIP code and immediately obtain a list of all nearby pregnancy resource centers.
Monday’s press conference took place on the same day as the publication of a letter on the “Standing With You” website that Hawkins encouraged pro-life advocates to sign. Addressed to the women of America, the letter laments that “72% of Americans cannot name their local pregnancy resource center.”
“The shared goal of the signers of this letter is to ensure that no woman in an unexpected pregnancy stands alone, and every woman in crisis is connected to the life-giving, non-violent alternatives to abortion available in her area. These alternatives to abortion have been operating in communities for decades, without government funding.”
In addition to Hawkins and Janae Stracke of Heritage Action for America, speakers included Penny Young Nance of Concerned Women for America, Andrea Trudden of Heartbeat International, Emilie Kao of the religious liberty law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, Mrs. Virginia beauty pageant hopeful Kelly Dierberger and pro-life author Patrina Mosley.
In her remarks, Nance called on Congress to appropriate “such funds necessary to instruct [the Department of Health and Human Services] to create a one-stop state-by-state online resource center complete with hotline and chat [features] that details all the many public and private … resources that are available” to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
Nance discussed her effort further in an interview with The Christian Post. She acknowledged that the creation of her envisioned “Life.gov” was dependent upon a pro-life majority in Congress, where pro-abortion Democrats currently have majorities in both chambers. She expressed optimism that the 2022 midterms would result in the pro-life Republican Party regaining majorities in the House and Senate.
“After the midterms, I’ll feel much better about the ability for Congress [to] direct resources and specifically require HHS to provide the information and also require them to report back on what they’ve done,” she said. “If you care about women, you should support the creation of Life.gov.”
She also predicted that President Joe Biden would probably not veto an appropriations bill that included a provision calling for the creation of Life.gov.
Two of the speakers had personal experience with unplanned pregnancies, which frequently cause women to choose to terminate their pregnancies. Ruth Asmarzadeh, who decided not to abort her child after becoming pregnant in college unexpectedly, expressed praise for the “Standing With You” initiative. SFLA raised $6,000 for Asmarzadeh to finish her psychology degree after having a baby forced to drop out of college.
Asmarzadeh elaborated on her experience at the press conference: “I thought abortion was my only option mainly because I did not think there were any others. I did not know that choosing life for my child as well as choosing my own dreams would be an option. I thought that it was either abortion or a life in a constant state of exhaustion or poverty.”
While she initially felt “hopelessly and indescribably alone,” Asmarzadeh credited God for surrounding her with “friends, family and my church who loved me and were excited for my new chapter of life.” She also indicated that coming across Students for Life of America helped her tremendously throughout her post-pregnancy.
Asmarzadeh first encountered Students for Life of America after one of her friends had given her the contact information for the SFLA regional coordinator. After contacting her SFLA regional coordinator, she connected with the SFLA chapter on her campus. She reported that the pro-life group “came around me and supported me and even threw a baby shower.”
In an interview with CP, Asmarzadeh explained that she identified as pro-choice before becoming pregnant: “When it happened to me, it just kind of changed because all of a sudden … this is happening to me and it’s different and it’s real.”
Nearly six years after giving birth to her son, Eli, Asmarzadeh is finishing the last leg of her associate’s degree at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has used the scholarship money raised by SFLA over the course of multiple semesters. She described her experience as “a little difficult but a huge blessing because I’m working full time and I work a lot.” Because she's not a full-time student, it has taken the young mother longer than usual to complete her degree.
Asmarzadeh was a student at the same college in the spring of 2016, when her academic career involuntarily came to a halt. “I had my son a week before finals,” she recalled. “When I went back to my classes, I wasn’t able to take my finals because classes were already over, I just had my baby, so I wasn’t able to go in because … I was still recovering physically from all that and then exhausted.”
Asmarzadeh told CP that because “my teachers never really coordinated with me what I was supposed to do,” she ended up failing her classes, which caused her to lose her financial aid. She indicated that because of the efforts of SFLA, other pregnant students at Pikes Peak Community College would not find themselves in her situation: “I think it’s changed its policies. I have seen nursing rooms, which is really cool because that wasn’t there before I took my break from school.”
While she felt an “overall fear” associated with “being the pregnant girl on campus and how that would look, fear of my reputation, fear of my parents kicking me out, and as shallow as it may be, it was fear of what it could do to my body” that caused her to contemplate abortion. Asmarzadeh chose not to give in to that fear and credited her parents with influencing her decision to have her child.
“My parents were very supportive no matter what and they were one of the reasons … I decided I couldn’t get an abortion and I couldn’t give my kiddo up for adoption because it would devastate my parents and that’s their legacy as well and I knew that they would be there to support me.”
Asmarzadeh said her mother reminded her that “she was going to be a grandma and she said ‘this baby is a part of my heart as well.’” She concluded that “even if I got an abortion or gave him up for adoption, I would be missing a part of myself.”
She attributed her decision to choose life to research she did about the procedure: “I researched the abortion process and every process. I became very familiar with some very disturbing words and animated videos that made me sick. And I was like ‘nope, I can’t do an abortion,’ especially knowing the initial side effects and the long-term effects that Planned Parenthood omits ... and they don’t really tell you about.”
The young mother also pointed to the experience of one of her friends as a motivating factor in her decision not to have an abortion. Asmarzadeh’s friend shared emotional testimony detailing that “when she was in college, she had two abortions because she was pressured by her boyfriend at the time and later on down the road … the side effects of that [were] miscarriages and hemorrhages.”
After encountering a woman at her church who gave her baby up for adoption rather than have an abortion, Asmarzadeh became grateful that “God was at the center of that in leading me to these people and placing these people in my life so that I could hear their testimonies and so that I could make the decision.”
In the future, Asmarzadeh hopes to continue her advocacy to “help the pregnant mother who’s afraid and scared and feels really alone” and “help her feel like ‘you’re not alone’ and let her know that there are people who want to help her.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org