Grassroots Efforts Drive Pro-Life Movement Post-Dobbs Decision

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The June 2022 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has intensified the abortion debate. The ruling didn’t instantly establish a life-affirming culture, but that wasn’t its aim. Rectifying a legal and moral wrong was essential. The abortion question has moved to state legislatures and voters. Despite this, we still view the issue through a national perspective, broadly divided along party lines. Real progress happens away from the fierce discussions, in ways far more impactful than viral clips, protests, or fiery political interviews.

The pro-life movement has always been a grassroots effort. Over the years, this perhaps got overshadowed by the focus on Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and their potential Supreme Court challenges. Legal battles are crucial, yet the groundwork to support women and connect with local communities has persisted under Roe and continues with an uncertain future for the country and states.

Grassroots Efforts Drive Pro-Life Movement Post-Dobbs Decision
Resident mother Nessie with her children. Since arriving at St. Raymond’s Society, Nessie has finished high school, passed a driver’s exam, saved $7,000, and began working as a teacher, the group says. (Courtesy of St. Raymond’s Society)

Pregnancy is overwhelming regardless of the circumstances. Even in stable situations, it causes anxiety as it brings immense responsibility. For unexpected and unwanted pregnancies, worries amplify. Often, a woman’s partner may be unsupportive or pressure her into abortion. Pro-life advocates aim to save unborn lives — a noble goal. However, saving the woman’s life, helping her see her capabilities, and providing resources and hope are equally important.

From outside, it might be hard to understand why any woman could consider abortion, especially if one hasn’t faced abuse, addiction, or lack of support. It’s pointless to wonder why abortion remains in demand. Scared women will always see it as an option. Instead of questioning its persistence, the focus should be on meeting women where they are and guiding them to better lives for themselves and their children. This is where maternity homes make a significant impact, often unnoticed. They are transforming and saving lives, one at a time, contributing more to a life-affirming culture than heated online debates.

Maternity homes differ from crisis pregnancy centers and similar clinics. These clinics are essential, directly contrasting Planned Parenthood by offering ultrasounds, reproductive and sexual health education, counseling, parenting classes, adoption referrals, and supplies for mothers and babies. They exist to provide compassionate care and direction. In contrast to abortion clinics, pro-life pregnancy centers aim to save lives. As of 2020, there were around 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers, but fewer maternity homes.

Residents and supporters from Road 2 Hope watch a July 4 parade in 2023. (Courtesy of Road 2 Hope)

There are roughly 400 registered maternity homes in the U.S., according to the Maternity Housing Coalition. Two such homes are Road 2 Hope Maternity Home in Beaverton, Oregon, and St. Raymond’s Society in Columbia and Jefferson City, Missouri. Leaders of these homes, Leona Bicknese and Steve Smith, focus on supporting both mothers and babies through a holistic, practical approach. I had the privilege of learning about their work.

Road 2 Hope operates in a challenging region. As Bicknese explains, “We are countercultural. We exist in a strongly pro-abortion, anti-Christian environment in Oregon.” Despite these difficulties, they offer compassion and care. In Missouri, Smith notes state policies that support their mission: “In Missouri, donations over $100 to pregnancy resource centers or maternity homes get a 70% state tax credit. This policy has allowed us to add a preschool and meet operational costs, benefiting the entire community.”

Above, staff with residents at St. Raymond’s Society in Missouri, Nov. 16, 2023. (Courtesy of St. Raymond’s Society)

The political climate varies between blue and red states, affecting maternity homes’ operations. But regardless of location, many women need support and hope to choose life. Road 2 Hope’s mission is “to provide housing, help, and hope to pregnant women and their children,” while St. Raymond’s focuses on helping mothers through a season of life, without judgment.

Both homes require serious commitment from their residents. They offer shelter, food, clothing, and education, including life skills and cooking classes. Financial education is crucial. Road 2 Hope provides comprehensive financial training, helps clear up debts and legal issues, and sets future goals. At St. Raymond’s, goals include obtaining GEDs, professional certifications, higher education, and driver’s licenses. Both homes emphasize education and vocational training.

Residents’ commitment carries them to success. Beyond personal motivation, the biggest challenges are capacity and culture. Financial support is crucial for these homes to continue their work. Pro-lifers should invest in their local clinics and maternity homes, as financial resources are essential.

For Bicknese and Smith, the political climate doesn’t affect their missions. Their focus remains on helping mothers and children, not political gain. They emphasize the importance of worldview over politics, focusing on serving and loving the mothers and helping them build successful futures.

Both leaders shared their reactions to the Dobbs decision. Bicknese felt emotional but saw it as a new starting point, not the end of the battle. She believes more outreach to churches is necessary. Smith noted that the mission remains the same: helping women in need.

Both aim to help more women, babies, and even fathers with excellence, focusing solely on saving lives and helping families. They prioritize practical support over political involvement.

Maternity homes are vital yet often overlooked parts of the pro-life movement. They offer nonjudgmental and nonpartisan support, showcasing where real cultural transformation begins. Financial support and volunteerism for these homes are crucial for their continued operation and expansion. We need more of them now more than ever.

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