What It Means to Be Pro-Life By Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly

Hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates will gather in Washington on Friday for the annual March for Life. Every year it is one of the biggest demonstrations in the nation’s capital, but some of the movement’s most dedicated members won’t be there. They’ll be where they usually are, day in and day out—at pregnancy resource centers caring for mothers and children, born and unborn.

Pregnancy resource centers have existed since before the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago, but their numbers have soared since abortion on demand was declared a constitutional right. Between 2,500 and 4,000 centers exist nationwide, supporting millions of pregnant and new mothers every year. Many if not most are faith-based.

What motivates the people who run and volunteer at these organizations? Love, hard as that may be to believe in these cynical times. Over the years I’ve met staff and volunteers driven by a deep affection for mothers and children. Being pro-life isn’t an abstract concept; it’s deeply personal and inherently connected with those they serve. They believe that every life, every soul, has worth and value. While people from a range of religions are involved, Christians are motivated by Christ’s words from the Gospel of Matthew: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Whatever their religious tradition, the faithful have built these centers from the ground up. They give their time, talent and treasure to support expectant mothers’ needs, including medical care such as testing and ultrasounds, diapers, formula and infant onesies. Every day, churches drop off checks and boxes of goods at their doorsteps. Volunteers show up on weekends and weekdays alike to stock shelves, enter data, hand out cribs and car seats, listen to mothers and fathers baring their souls, and pray with those struggling to choose life. The result is often a lifelong relationship and support for children—and even a conversion for entire families.

Many people call these organizations “crisis” pregnancy centers. The phrase is too limiting, but it speaks to a profound truth. When a teenage girl discovers she’s pregnant, when an expecting mom escapes her abusive boyfriend, when a single mother has no money for diapers, these centers take them in. Seemingly unbearable situations become hopeful through tender care, comforting words, and abundant generosity.

It’s nearly impossible to know how many mothers have been helped and babies saved thanks to these centers, though the number could be in the millions. Yet as any of their staff would tell you, they haven’t saved enough. At least 62 million babies have been aborted since Roe, and every pregnancy resource center employee and volunteer is fighting to prevent that number from rising.

Their work to show expectant mothers the humanity of their children through ultrasounds is especially powerful. (The Knights of Columbus, which I lead, this week placed our 1,500th ultrasound machine in a pregnancy resource center, in New Brunswick, N.J.) When it comes to helping parents choose life, few things are more powerful than the sight of their unborn child.

Abortion’s defenders tend to denounce these centers. The Guttmacher Institute, formerly affiliated with Planned Parenthood, complains they are “typically staffed by volunteers and employees who lack medical training and licensure.” It’s a strange criticism from those for whom a “successful” medical procedure always ends in the death of a human being. In any case, it misses the point. The people who work at these centers serve the whole person—medically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. That’s something no abortion clinic can do, and it helps explain why their numbers are dwindling while the number of pregnancy resource centers grows.

Such centers are likely to become even more prominent with time. Along with everyone participating in the March for Life, their staff and volunteers are hoping and praying the Supreme Court overturns Roe in the Dobbs case later this year. Such a decision would empower states to restrict abortion and protect unborn life—something that 61% of Americans support, based on new Marist polling sponsored by the Knights of Columbus—and that means more mothers and children will be in need of love and support. Pregnancy resource centers will be there.

Mr. Kelly is supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Link to article webpage on Wall Street Journal