An unplanned pregnancy is often what someone thinks of when they hear of a pregnancy center and the misconception out there is that this is all pregnancy centers are meant for. You have probably noticed a pregnancy center in your town somewhere but you may wonder, “What is a pregnancy center and what is their mission?” A pregnancy center is often the beating heart of a community, especially in smaller communities. Pregnancy centers are nonprofit organizations that provide support to their community and those that visit them and most, if not all of, their services are free of charge.
Services Offered at Pregnancy Centers (PRCs)
- Pregnancy tests
- Parenting classes
- Baby items (baby diapers, clothes, and food)
- Services to help you if you find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy
Most people assume that a pregnancy center is only for those who find themselves in a crisis situation, this is not the case at all. pregnancy centers and their services are available to anyone. Even people who are married can go in and utilize the services at pregnancy centers. Some of the services that you will find most often utilized are pregnancy tests, parenting classes, and ultrasounds. Many pregnancy centers offer a sort of shopping experience for expecting parents who find themselves in financial difficulties and need help. They can go into a pregnancy center and take a parenting class in exchange for free diapers, wipes, playpens, and baby shampoos. pregnancy centers rely heavily on donations to keep their services running and stocked.
Many pregnancy centers are religiously affiliated and therefore do not promote abortion, instead, they will promote parenting or adoption. Abortion is mentioned and shown through videos or facts that the pregnancy centers will put together. There are a few pregnancy centers out there that are pro-choice, they are just fewer. Pregnancy centers can be a good resource center for helping you find the necessary resources such as doctors and insurance.
When I was 16, I was looking up pregnancy centers in the yellow pages. Back then we didn’t have easy access to the world wide web like we do now! I found one pregnancy center, I had probably driven by it a million times but hadn’t noticed it. I asked my boyfriend to pick me up from my lunch break during high school and take me in so that I could take a pregnancy test.
It was pretty overwhelming and scary walking in there and only being 16. My boyfriend didn’t want to go in. I wasn’t even sure if they would give me a pregnancy test since I was under 18 and didn’t have one of my parents with me but thankfully they did help me. I could tell they tried pretty hard to make the experience seem friendly and the atmosphere appear homely but nothing can help the fear that you have at that moment, especially when you are so young. Everything seems foreign, sterile, and scary.
They took me back into a small room with a counselor and as soon as the woman walked in the door holding a bunch of pamphlets and paperwork, I knew that the results were going to be positive. The whole room felt like it was spinning, I honestly cannot even tell you what they said to me that day. I felt numb. I walked out of the pregnancy center with a handful of pamphlets and told my boyfriend that we were pregnant. I did not use any of their services past that day but the pamphlets that they sent home with me did tell me all of my options. They did not refer me to any specific abortion clinic or services and the same with adoption, no specific service, agency, or adoption attorney was mentioned. I do not think any follow-up calls happened, I do not even think I gave them my correct number because all we had back then were landline numbers and I didn’t exactly want a pregnancy center calling my mom. So, beyond that day I received no further assistance from them, but I did go back a few years later to thank them. I also saved all of the pamphlets that they gave me that day and the piece of paper saying that I was pregnant with the projected due date that they had given me. Fun mementos from 18 and a half years ago.
Muthoni is a fellow birth mom, she has such a beautiful heart and is absolutely amazing! She has utilized a pregnancy resource center. Someone told her about the PRC so she decided to check it out. She was 23 when she went in and it was due to an unplanned pregnancy, Muthoni was presented with both parenting and adoption options upon finding out she was pregnant. She felt very supported by the PRC while there and they continued to follow up with her for roughly a year after her initial visit. She even volunteered to speak at one of their fundraisers for them. Muthoni says that she would definitely recommend a PRC to anyone who may need their services.
Katie is another extraordinary birth mom who was willing to share her pregnancy center experience. Katie suspected she could be pregnant again, as she had placed a child for adoption before. She knew that she could just go to a drug store and purchase a pregnancy test over the counter and take it at home but she remembered how overwhelming her first unexpected pregnancy was and she knew she needed support for what she suspected she was about to find out.
Katie recalls crying after she found out the test was positive and she shared some of her adoption story with the nurse that was on duty at the pregnancy center. Since Katie had already placed one child for adoption and is also an adoptee herself, she already had a good idea of what her options were for her and her baby. she didn’t necessarily go to the pregnancy center for help, she went there because she needed to be embraced during such an emotional moment and she knew the pregnancy center could provide that support. After that, she went straight to an agency and began my adoption plan for her child.
How Do Pregnancy Centers Impact Their Communities?
According to a survey done by the Charlotte Lozier Institute in 2017, this is how pregnancy centers impacted their communities.
- They provided almost 2, 000,000 people with free services.
- 400,100 hours were donated free of service.
- 100 mobile units are out on the road giving ultrasounds to women in the community.
- 2,752 locations nationwide provide services.
- 679,600 free pregnancy tests were given.
- 295,900 parents attended parenting courses.
These statistics are incredible and show that PRCs are really making a difference in the communities that they are in. Even more incredible is the majority of those working in PRCs are volunteers, giving freely of their time for the benefit of their community.
Planned Parenthood vs. Pregnancy Centers
So what is the difference between a Planned Parenthood and a pregnancy center? The biggest difference between the two is that pregnancy centers do not provide abortions and Planned Parenthood not only supports them but also provides them. Also, most pregnancy centers are religiously affiliated and do not believe in abortions. Pregnancy centers can sometimes be known as crisis pregnancy centers but many facilities have begun to move away from that title due to the fact that not everyone who uses their services is in a crisis situation. Now they go by pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers.
Pregnancy centers also do not provide contraceptives to their clients either and Planned Parenthood can. Pregnancy centers that are religiously affiliated and against abortions will often show expectant mothers or parents material on the stages of life that the baby is in so that the parents can fully grasp the decision they are wanting to make if they are leaning towards adoption. According to the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates 80% of women who get ultrasounds and see their baby will decide to keep their pregnancy and this is considered a valuable tool for pregnancy centers. So, if you are facing an unplanned pregnancy it is important to know the difference between the two depending on what you may be looking for, no one can make that decision but you. There are long-term effects and repercussions to all decisions and it’s important to seek all the information about parenting, adoption, or abortion.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and need to find a therapist but don’t know where to start, PsychologyToday is a great place. When you click on their website, it will first ask you to put in your area or zip code. Once you do that, the system will immediately list therapists in your area but you can slim down your search to something more specific too. One of the bubbles at the top says “issues” and if you click on that you can select what you need therapy for such as grief, adoption, sexual abuse, trauma, and PTSD. The next bubble is for insurance, every possible insurance is listed. Next you can chose your preferred gender for a therapist, age, ethnicity, faith and the price range of the therapist if you do not have insurance.
Pregnancy Center Map
One search engine for pregnancy centers is the crisis pregnancy center map. On this website you can search by your state or by your zip code for what they call a crisis pregnancy center that provides pregnancy tests. It will provide you with the name and address of the crisis pregnancy center near you. This can be a great tool if you just aren’t sure where to start. Again, it is all going to depend on what type of services you are looking for and what kind of help you want.
I hope this article has helped you understand what a pregnancy center is and what its main functions are. If you ever find yourself with some extra baby items that you are no longer in need of, consider donating them to your local pregnancy center so that they can continue to provide these items to the community to those that are in need free of charge. It’s a great way to give back!
Katie Urban is a birth mom of 18 years. She is a proud military spouse and mother of two teenagers. Katie loves the adventures of moving all over the country every couple of years and seeing what the new place has in store for her and her family. She loves to binge watch Law and Order SVU and is working on her bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security. Katie also loves to refinish furniture in her spare time and spending time with her two lap dogs, Bailey (Great Dane) and Benson (Teacup Yorkie).