I grew up in a Christian home where even though my entire life we attended church, I never knew the full extent of the pro-life movement.
At 19, I discovered I was pregnant. I was the oldest of four and was terrified to tell my parents. I thought that they would kick me out, that I would be homeless, and that my dreams were over. It felt like there was no support out there for me, and the father of my baby felt the same way.
We grew up knowing abortion was wrong, but at that moment we just thought it seemed like a quick fix and we would just deal with the consequences of a broken heart later. We scheduled the abortion and paid for it, but when I went into the abortion room, I started to hyperventilate and eventually passed out. Once I came, I was told I needed to reschedule and come back another day. After returning to the waiting room, I told the father of the baby that we were still pregnant, and in a decisive moment of both fear and courage, we decided we would figure it out together and keep our baby.
Twenty-three years later, I’m so glad we made that decision. Today, my wonderful son is married to the love of his life and working in the pro-life movement. I can’t imagine my life without him or his father, who soon became my husband.
But my story could have been a lot brighter.
Though my parents eventually supported me, looking back, I wish at the time I had known about the nearly 3,000 pro-life pregnancy help organizations nationwide that work tirelessly and creatively to provide a support system to women in need.
I personally discovered these organizations at my first pro-life conference and was blown away by their incredible services and their ability to help women find the courage to brave in the midst of challenging situations. Yet I felt a sense of despair upon realizing that there were countless women in situations like I had once been in, who did not know these organizations existed and felt that they had nowhere to turn.
These organizations are “small but mighty” in the greatest sense of the phrase. They work in the shadow of the public eye, but their presence in communities is vibrant and dynamic. They do not seek national headlines but simply exist to serve women and their children.
Since the wrongly decided 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, pregnancy care centers have sprung up across the entire nation, stepping up to care for women in need and providing free consultation and resources.
Their efforts have only amplified since the overturning of Roe to educate women about their options and equip and empower them to make a decision without coercion. Research shows in 2019, more than 2,700 U.S. pro-life pregnancy centers served roughly two million women, men, and youth with nearly $270 million in services, including 1,290,079 packs of diapers, free obstetrical ultrasound services, and prenatal and parenting classes.
Women need to know that these support systems exist for them. They deserve love and encouragement, especially when facing an unexpected pregnancy.
That’s why I started Embrace Grace, a rapidly growing global network of 750 pregnancy support groups that exist at churches in 48 states and 8 countries. We connect with women in difficult pregnancies to help them discover their potential and know they are deeply loved, access a wealth of free resources, build authentic community, and discover the greatest gift of all: a relationship with Christ.
We proudly work with churches and pregnancy help organizations to raise awareness for women about what is available for them in the community. For example, in an Embrace Grace support group, we throw joyful and abundant baby showers for every woman who comes to us for discipleship. We provide a loving, spiritual family and foundational teachings to help women understand their identity in Christ so that they can choose a meaningful path for themselves and their children.
At our core, we believe that the pro-life movement cannot exist without pro-love action. That’s why we partner with local pregnancy help organizations to distribute free “love boxes” to women, which provide them with testimonies of women who chose life, clothing for their baby, a prayer journal, and an invitation to an Embrace Grace support group at a nearby church.
We have seen the power of love, prayerful community, and relationship with God in the lives of the countless women we have served through Embrace Grace. One young mom named Bailey, for example, was able to leave an abusive relationship, work through custody issues with a caring community that would drive her to her court hearings and pray for her when she was nervous, and find her dream job that allowed her to bring her baby to work – all within the course of two months.
Our mission at Embrace Grace has always centered around the fact that if more women knew about the great support networks that exist solely for them, they would have the freedom to choose life and pursue their dreams without the heartbreak of abortion. It is truly the love for women and their children that fuels the mission of pregnancy support groups and help organizations, and in this post-Roe America, it’s more important now than ever.
Amy Ford is the President of Embrace Grace.