New Hope Pregnancy Care Center, a local Christian nonprofit which helps those facing unplanned pregnancies, is celebrating its successes. The organization held its annual "Celebration of Life" …
By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
New Hope Pregnancy Care Center, a local Christian nonprofit which helps those facing unplanned pregnancies, is celebrating its successes.
The organization held its annual Celebration of Life event Monday night at Living Word Church. While this event has historically been billed as a memorial service for babies affected by abortion, the organization’s leader emphasized there is cause for celebration.
“January is ‘Sanctity of Human Life Month,’ and people across this country mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion with sadness,” said Tracie Shellhouse, CEO of New Hope. “But we in the pro-life movement have much to celebrate, too.”
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case which ultimately led to the legalization of abortion nationwide.
Shellhouse said an estimated 60 million pregnancies have been terminated since abortion became legal. However, the country has seen a recent decrease in the number of abortions being performed each year.
“We are winning, and this is something to celebrate,” Shellhouse said with a grin.
Citing statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, which has historically been affiliated with Planned Parenthood, Shellhouse said the U.S. recently had an abortion rate which was “the lowest it had been since 1975.”
The Institute says that, since 2013, less than 1 million abortions have been performed each year in the U.S. This was a 42 percent drop from the mid-1990s, when there was “a high of 1.6 million per year.”
Shellhouse added New Hope has seen “tremendous” growth over the years and has continually been able to help more and more pregnant mothers.
“This past year, 2017, was unlike any year before,” Shellhouse said.
Last year, the organization saw a 60 percent increase in clients seeking out the free pregnancy tests it offers.
Shellhouse said this overall increase meant there were also many more clients “at risk for choosing abortion.”
She added that community donors helping New Hope establish a medical clinic have helped make a difference. Because the center now provides clients with free ultrasounds, more women get to see the babies whose futures they are considering.
“More clients are choosing life for their babies,” said Shellhouse. “In 2016, 55 percent of our abortion-minded women chose life, but last year, we saw that percentage raise to 91 percent.”
More clients making informed decisions about the consequences of abortion, she noted.
While abortion has grown to be a hot-button political issue in recent years, Shellhouse argued it is not an issue that should be.
“It is an issue of human life,” she stressed.
Pro-life organizations like New Hope are operating on the premise that a human life begins “at the very moment of conception.” That means they are considering at least two lives when trying to help a mother navigate an unplanned pregnancy.
Shellhouse told her audience about remarks former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner made in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. O’Conner reported abortion was a way for women to “maintain their status” in their careers.
“I am certainly an advocate for the equality of women,” Shellhouse said. “I am confident, however, that we as a civilized society can find a better response. I am certain we can find a way to protect one life that in a way that doesn’t require ending the life of another.”
New Hope’s solution has been to work with clients to not only make decisions about their pregnancies but to help them make other plans for the future. Shellhouse said such encouragement has led to mothers going to college, launching good careers and pursuing other worthy goals.
She stressed the importance of continuing to help mothers facing unplanned pregnancies as they approach their due dates and make plans for motherhood.
She also said the community should keep in mind the effects abortion can have.
“It is important to be remember the lives lost, those who have never had the opportunity to imagine their lives and what their futures held,” Shellhouse said.
“It is also important to remember those among us … who are hurting because of their choice to terminate a pregnancy. Those people need our love.”
After Shellhouse spoke, the event concluded with a candlelit prayer. Attendees of the event gathered in a large circle with their candles to pray for those affected by abortion, those who may be considering it and those who are championing the pro-life cause.
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