Did you know that when pregnant women ring the My Options pregnancy ‘helpline’ (run by the HSE and paid for by your taxes), they are told where they can get an abortion – but they are not told what organisations will help you to have your baby?
That’s just one of the things we learned this month at the online Rally for Life, when we interviewed some of the amazing people from Gianna Care, a national organization which provides practical and emotional support to women with an unexpected pregnancy.
I talked to Carolyn O’Meara, founder of Gianna Care, and one of the many heroes who go above and beyond to help save mothers and babies from abortion – and one of the pieces of feedback we got back afterwards was that people were surprised by just how professional and comprehensive that support needs to be.
Very often, the women contacted by Gianna Care are desperate and in real and urgent need. Some of them are homeless, others have lost their job, sometimes they need to escape an abusive situation, many are frightened and feel desperately alone. One young volunteer was shocked to find that a 19-year old who was heavily pregnant and getting help from the organisation last winter didn’t even have a winter coat.
To put it simply, a bag of nappies isn’t all these mothers and their babies need. Gianna Care provides ultrasounds and counselling, baby clothes and equipment, and yes, nappies and other things often provided by wonderful supporters, but that’s often just the beginning. Women need to know how to access state support, they need assistance to get to hospital for check-ups – sometimes they would actually give birth alone were it not for the Gianna Care volunteers who accompany them, if requested, to the hospital to bring baby into the world.
Carolyn told me about their Link Volunteer idea – a brilliant initiative which links local volunteers to women who are seeking ongoing support from Gianna Care. One example was a young woman who was pregnant and in crisis and who also had a disability. She lived in a rural area and was finding it very difficult to get to hospital appointments. These kinds of difficulties often make women feel overwhelmed and feel that continuing with the pregnancy is impossible. But Gianna Care got Link Volunteers to arrange local support so that this young woman could keep her hospital appointments and also have a network which would support her.
At the online Rally we were delighted to also meet a brave young woman, Nissah, and her beautiful baby, Ryan, who both overcame great obstacles with the help of Gianna Care. Her hope for the future is to go back to college and give her children a good life. She said Gianna Care volunteers were like angels to her.
This is an organisation that is absolutely serious, professional and committed to its mission – and who served 82 women in June alone! They have developed a model of care that is superb and it should be supported by everyone who seeks to offer women a better answer than abortion.
Resources are scarce and many women need support. It is my fervent hope that instead of reinventing the wheel or setting up rival organisations, the entire pro-life movement swings in behind Gianna Care to help them save as many mothers and babies as possible.