One of the greatest lies and slurs hurled at pro-lifers is that we only care about the baby until it is born.
“Are you prepared to pay for that child of poverty in order to help raise it for the next eighteen years? No?? Then shut up about abortion!”
It’s a clever little manipulation, though not much in the way of an argument.
Responsibility for raising the child resides with the parents, not society. To suggest that the mother and father of a poor and unexpected child cannot be counted on to be the primary providers of their child is to infantilize the parents and inject chaos into the lives of the family. Our inner-cities suffer from just this sort of chaos with generational poverty that traces its roots back to the well-intentioned Great Society programs begun in the 1960’s. For decades people have lamented that there must be a better way.
There is, and two of the architects of this better way are Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and Mr. Christopher Bell, Co-Founders of Good Counsel Homes. I worked briefly with Chris Bell at Covenant House in Times Square when I began there in 1983. Covenant House was a shelter for homeless teens, and Chris and I worked with the mothers and babies. Chris thought more needed to be done for homeless pregnant women, and was challenged by Father Groeschel to do something himself. So, in 1985, Chris and Father Groeschel opened the first of what would grow into five homes for mothers and their babies. Soon after, Chris opened a home in my parish.
As the years have gone by, Regina and I have donated to Good Counsel, and Father Groeschel (who taught me in the seminary) has encouraged me to contact Chris. We reconnected about a year ago. Last month I began working with Chris doing fund development work for Good Counsel Homes. So how does Good Counsel disprove the great lie from the proabort camp?
Pro-lifers care deeply for pregnant mothers and their babies, and want the very best for them over the long term. Toward that end, Good Counsel has mothers in crisis stay with us during their pregnancies, and for up to a year after delivery. When the mothers transition to independent living, they enter our Exodus Program, where their case manager visits them twice-monthly for the next two years. During these visits, the case manager observes, offers advice, counsel, TLC, and other supports to ensure that mom and child(ren) are on the road to complete, functional independence. Often, mothers are invited back to Good Counsel for dinner and participation in other programming.
During their time at Good Counsel, mothers are actively engaged in working on their education, getting their GED (if necessary), crafting resumes, job hunting, taking parenting classes and life-skills training, working in the computer labs on their computer skills, etc.
In short, they are growing into adulthood and motherhood. A snapshot of 2010 tells the story:
In the year 2010 there were many opportunities for accomplishments of all kinds.
• Occupancy across all of the homes was 103%.
• There were over 2820 calls for help on our emergency help line.
• 131 mothers resided within our homes along with 90 children of all ages.
• There were 40 births.
• Over 800 Life Skill Classes were taught within the homes.
• The mothers completed 300 on-line parenting classes from the home computer centers.
• 85% of our mothers did volunteer work in the local communities
• There was significant improvement in all of the Life Skill areas.
• 43% of our mothers were able to receive professional counseling in addition to the counseling provided by our own staff.
• There were 25,183 nights of safe shelter provided.
• Sixty-eight women and their families were still actively engaged with us after leaving our homes because of our follow-up Exodus program.
A month ago, we opened a new home just outside of America’s most dangerous city, Camden, New Jersey.
We do care deeply about the plight of the mother and child beyond the delivery. And we need not infantilize the mother. What young mothers without familial support need most is what we do best:
Loving Mentoring into independent adulthood.
This is the ‘other’ choice from which proaborts run and hide. Many of our mothers come to us from our 24/7 toll-free hotline 800-723-8331. Many have families and boyfriends who bring unrelenting abortion pressure to bear on these mothers who have chosen to keep their babies. With Good Counsel, their choice is respected, honored, nurtured, and brought into full blossom.
As one might imagine, staffing five full-time homes costs a great deal of money. If pro-lifers are looking to hurl some hard facts at the proabort slur, visit Good Counsel’s site. Also, Good Counsel has a FaceBook page. People can show their support of the work done by Good Counsel by clicking “like” on the FB page, and by prayerfully considering whatever financial support they can.
Looking back on how my life has come full circle since I first met Chris in 1983, since the beginning of my pro-life work, it isn’t at all difficult to see God’s hand in how it has all played out.
It’s great to have come home.