-- Catholic News Agency
Pro-life Groups Care For Mothers In Crisis Pregnancies
WASHINGTON D.C., February 3 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Organizations that offer pro-life aid for women facing difficult pregnancies stressed that there are both resources and tools available for mothers in need.
The Sisters of Life "invite the women to come and live with us," Sister Johanna, Superior of the Holy Respite in Manhattan, told CNA.
In addition to the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, Sisters of Life take an additional vow to protect and defend the sacredness of human life.
Founded in 1991 by Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, the sisters care for expectant mothers, offer retreats and provide aid to women suffering from a past abortion.
Sister Johanna explained that women can come to the sisters at any stage in pregnancy, and "they are welcome to stay with us until they get back on their feet."
During their stay at the convent, the material needs of both the mother and child are taken care of, allowing them "to just relax and be and pray and dream," she said.
Even after their child is born and they have moved out of the convent, the sisters provide "any materials we've been given," to continue assisting each mother.
"We always walk with them for as long as they need," Sister Johanna added, saying that many mothers will often "check in" and visit, creating a strong and lasting community among the women.
Numerous members of the Sisters for Life attended the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C. The annual march - held this year on Jan. 25 - commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout America.
The National Maternity Housing Coalition was also present at the march. Sponsored by Heartbeat International, the coalition seeks to help homeless mothers in crisis pregnancy situations connect with housing providers.
"We can say to any woman in a crisis pregnancy situation in the United States, you can get help," said Christopher Bell, founding member of the coalition.
He told CNA that the organization seeks "to help maternity homes that are already doing good work do better, and to help people who want to start new homes."
The National Maternity Housing Coalition also offers training and educational opportunities to address the situations surrounding maternal homelessness, in order to help providers better meet the needs of the women who come to them.
Bell said the group plays a vital role in educating the public and aiding in the pro-life movement.
When asked in a recent study what they would do if their congregants were facing a crisis pregnancy, many said that they did not know, he explained.
While pro-life alternatives have existed for decades, Bell said, "we're not known well enough by members of our own congregation, our own clergy, as well as certainly the general public who really needs it."
"Pregnancy centers are small, so no one has an advertising budget," he added, "so we need to get the word out there."
Bell also noted that the organization "can handle it all," providing aid for a variety of situations.
Various homes within the coalition can care for women with longer-term needs, mothers who already have multiple other children and special needs moms and babies.
"There's so much love in the world to take care of every single child in those situations and every mother," he said.
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