Mothers share how crisis pregnancy centers helped them walk away from abortion: ‘huge enlightenment’
These centers have been villainized by Democrats, but mothers who’ve been helped by them say nothing could be further from the truth.
Two crisis pregnancy centers in and around the nation’s capital, the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, D.C., and Life First in Manassas, Virginia, opened their doors to Fox News Digital to share how they are helping women and families in the nascent stages of building their lives.
‘My experience happened over a decade ago, so my oldest now is 11, so when I was pregnant, I came through Life First — formerly known as CareNet back then,’ Alana Jenkins, a mother helped by Life First said.
Jenkins, a mother of five including her youngest, Rip, said she considered abortion when she was unexpectedly pregnant with her first but chose to keep her child after visiting with Life First.
‘It was scary, you know, I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting other than they offered free services I wanted to take advantage of,’ Jenkins said. ‘I had already decided of having an abortion, but my husband and I decided that we wanted to get more information and a sonogram at the time to confirm I was pregnant.’
Jenkins said she ‘was greeted with nothing but love’ from the staff at Life First and that it was ‘amazing’ to see where her experience at the center ‘led to.’
‘It was great to feel that comfort and love through professionalism, guiding me through the steps,’ Jenkins said. ‘Not what I wanted to hear, but the education of what having a baby was all about, the steps, the process.’
‘They offered support, which was huge for me for making my final decision, because I was scared, financially, we were not in a position for bringing on a child,’ she continued. ‘But, again, with their professionalism and their support and what they offered, it was amazing.’
Jenkins said her pregnancy was confirmed by the center with a sonogram and that her time at the center led to a ‘step-by-step process’ to help her and her budding family with what they needed.
Ten years and five kids later, Jenkins and her husband have made their home in Vint Hill, Virginia, where they own a CrossFit gym.
Jenkins said she fell out of contact with Life First after her first experience with them, but reconnected with the clinic after Life First CEO Becky Sheetz visited her gym promoting a church ‘sit-up’ challenge fundraiser and shared her experience with the center.
‘Anytime they need help, anything I can do of service, like here just explaining my experience and what the result of their assistance has done for my kids, my life, hopefully now for others,’ Jenkins said.
Niya, a mother helped by Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, initially visited to find out if she was pregnant. After confirming she was pregnant, the center gave her counseling and resources.
Niya was considering abortion at first, as she felt she ‘wasn’t ready’ to be a mother, but knew she had to ‘get ready’ and decided to keep her baby, Amara, after visiting with Maloney.
The team at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center explained all the options for her baby that Niya could choose, such as raising the child or placing the child up for adoption, instead of going through an abortion.
‘After that, I left, [Jamie] gave me a few pamphlets about adoption, giving your child to somebody else, a family that might want them,’ Niya said. ‘And she was emailing me and stuff, checking on me. She sent me a gift for my baby, I told her I was going to keep it, and she’s just been in contact with me since.’
Both centers help new parents get on their feet through counseling and professional placement help, ensuring that the budding families have a steady source of income.
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, while not currently providing medical procedures such as ultrasounds, provides faith-based counseling to expectant mothers who may be considering abortion.
The center was hit with vandalism in the wake of the Supreme Court leak of the opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. They were hit with red paint, eggs, and graffiti reading ‘Jane Says Revenge.’
Janet Durig, executive director of Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, told Fox News Digital the center’s staff felt ‘violated’ by the vandalism and it ‘comes back to people misunderstanding what pregnancy centers like ours do, or they really understand it and think it’s awful to help people.’
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center’s annual banquet was interrupted by protesters who disrupted Durig while she was speaking on the work the center performs. The protest led to the center upping their security presence.
Durig said she was called by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who told her that the protesting group, ShutdownDC, had been chattering about the banquet protest on social media.
The protesters inside the banquet had sat at the table with one mother, Niya, and her child as well as the center’s director of client and volunteer services, Jamie Maloney and dug into the meal provided to attendees before interrupting the event.
‘They ate our meal, they ate our hors d’vours, they ate our meal, and even commented on how good it was from other people I’ve been told — and so did the other protesters, by the way,’ Durig said in regards to the protesters.
‘And then sat right next to Niya, the mother testimony-giver and her baby, and seemed to feel comfortable standing up and protesting the center,’ Durig added.
Durig said the protest was mostly a lot of yelling, but nobody could ‘explain’ to her how they have ‘blood’ on their hands when they are ‘helping people who choose to give birth to their baby.’
‘They want to have their baby, we don’t force that on anyone, and we don’t force that choice on anyone,’ Durig said. ‘Where is the blood on our hands because that woman has chosen to keep her baby?’
Durig also noted that mothers coming to the clinic were ‘disconcerted’ by the protests but they ‘all felt everything was under control’ when handling the protest at the banquet.
She also said she believes that the protesters misunderstand what the center and others like it provide to families, such as job counseling.
Life First was also hit by vandalism prior to their move to their Manassas location ‘on the day that Roe v. Wade was overturned’ at their old location, but CEO Becky Sheetz said the protesters tagged the back side of the building that is not as visible.
Sheetz also said the vandalism was not the reason behind the move.
‘We came in one day and there was vandalism, graffiti, on the back of the center, on the side that we operated the building, so we reported it to local law enforcement right away and it was cleaned up,’ Sheetz said.
‘It was actually just graffiti, clearly targeted along the lines of the graffiti and vandalism that you were seeing all across the nation in the tens and tens, over 100 pregnancy centers that were vandalized,’ she continued.
Sheetz said the vandalism was ‘intimidating’ but that it was ‘comical’ that the tagging happened on the back of the building that ‘none’ of their ‘patients or visitors would ever see.’
‘That was the best they had that day,’ Sheetz added, noting that, in the wake of the vandalism, the staff and center were operating ‘business as usual.’
‘So that didn’t change, the mission doesn’t change, so it made us feel like we were probably on the right track because we’re doing good work and we’re having an impact,’ Sheetz said.
Additionally, both centers provide material goods and services to struggling mothers and families, carrying children’s clothes, diapers, and other necessities that are given to families that visit the center.
Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center provides baby formula and car seats, as well as approved baby playpens and crib analogues. They are also planning to get their own ultrasound up and running.
‘We help them with material support, which is very important, but we also help them with free childbirth classes and free parenting classes,’ Durig told Fox News Digital.
‘They could call at any time to the client advocates, especially the ones they know, but anyone can fit in if they’re not available,’ Durig continued. ‘… They know this is someone they can call.’
First Care Women’s Health Woodbridge Center director Pam Dudley told Fox News Digital that their clinic sees ‘women from all different nationalities, all different backgrounds and walks of life, but one thing that they all have in common when they walk through our doors is they’re facing an unplanned pregnancy.’
She also said that the center ‘partners with dozens of organizations that help with things like food and clothing and diapers and formula and housing, even,’ as well as organizations that provide ‘free prenatal care, in some cases.’
‘We could almost connect her with anything because of all partnering organizations that we work with,’ Dudley said, adding their centers also provides prenatal and parenting classes ‘at no cost’ to the mother.
While they don’t distribute car seats and baby formula, Dudley said First Care Women’s Health can connect mothers with organizations that do ‘so they can get a free car seat, they can get free formula.’
Sheetz said their product carrying comes down to ‘shelf life,’ ‘storage,’ and other similar factors, so First Care Women’s Health gives ‘away other items like diapers and wipes and goods like that, that we can keep and can have in a steady supply.’
Dudley said that the clinic looks to ’empower women with all of their information’ who are facing unexpected pregnancies and will try to be a ‘calming voice’ for the mother over the phone. The service will then confirm with the women that they are pregnant when they come into the center.
Life First also provides faith-based counseling, but has a registered nurse on staff, Linda Kisha, who performs ultrasounds and keeps track of patient information on their First Care Women’s Health side of the operation.
‘We talk to them about the ultrasound and how important that is as part of their decision-making process,’ Dudley told Fox News Digital. ‘Many of them call and they’re looking for the abortion pill or they’re saying ‘I can’t have a baby right now.’’
‘So all of us are trained to talk to them on the phone and explain our services and to get them to come in, especially to have an ultrasound,’ Dudley said. ‘Because she needs to know that it’s a pregnancy that’s going to continue, and she needs to know how far along she is so that she knows how to make that next step.’
Dudley said the staff at the center will listen to the mothers; stories and ‘many times’ the staff at First Care Women’s Health are the first people the mothers reach out to for help.
‘We want to be that safe place, that nonjudgmental place, that caring place that she can come and learn about all her options,’ Dudley said. ‘She may feel like abortion is her only option when she first comes in, but we can explain that she has does other options and how that would work.’
Kisha told Fox News Digital the First Care Women’s Health clinic provides medically-administered pregnancy tests, ultrasounds to ‘confirm her pregnancy’ and if the baby is viable, as well as tests for the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
‘These are all things the patient needs to know if she’s going to have an abortion,’ Kisha said.
‘And explain the abortion procedures to her, as well, depending on how far along she is, from a medical professional,’ Sheetz added.
Dudley also encouraged people who know mothers struggling with an unplanned pregnancy to visit First Care Women’s Health.
‘I always tell every patient I meet with, ‘I’m so glad you came in today,’’ Dudley said. ‘And we mean that genuinely. We welcome anyone who desires our services, who needs a little help, who doesn’t feel like she has support, that’s what we do.’
‘That’s why we’re here: we’re that safe place for her,’ Dudley continued. ‘So we would just welcome her in this place and we also encourage an ongoing relationship with her, if she would allow us to do that.’
Amara joined her mother at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center’s recent banquet, where Niya’s spoke on her experience with the center.
During the dinner, though, Niya’s speech recounting the counseling and help she received from the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center was interrupted by protesters who had planted themselves in the crowd.
‘That is all blood on your f—ing hands, every last motherf—ing one of you,’ one woman screamed as security escorted her out of the event. ‘Jane says revenge motherf—er,’ she added.
Niya said she had clocked the protesters when she showed up to the banquet but was unaware that three of the protesters were sitting next to her during the event.
‘They were talking, I was talking, saying how I felt about the people outside and stuff like that, and they were listening. I think one of them did have something they really wanted to say, but she didn’t say anything,’ Niya said about the protesters. ‘And then they just start standing up and yelling.’
Niya said she was ‘confused’ by the protesters at first and that the protesters had been complimenting her child’s cuteness before interrupting the banquet.
‘Like, I understood what they were saying, but at the same time, that’s not how you go about stuff,’ Niya said. ‘I just felt like everybody got a mind of their own, I went to a pregnancy center and didn’t have a problem with it.’
The mothers, however, say other women in similar situations to them should explore their options at crisis pregnancy centers.
‘Don’t be scared! Like, don’t be scared,’ Niya said, encouraging other women in similar situations to visit crisis pregnancy clinics. ‘I just feel like we all have a responsibility, whether you’re pro-choice or not. And that’s something you want to do, you have to stand up for what you believe in and do it.’
‘Nobody changed my mind on anything like that,’ she continued. ‘I changed my own mind because I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t built for abortion. I really didn’t want to, but I also wasn’t ready at the same time. So, don’t be scared. Do what you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you what’s right for you.’
‘My definition of success was what I thought it was, and when I came in, I really, firmly believed for my success, I needed an abortion,’ Jenkins said. ‘The place I was in my life, financially as a professional athlete back then, success and my plan ahead did not call for a kid. It just didn’t look like that would equate.’
‘And when I was given the support, the education, the resources, all that, it was just amazing to see a different perspective,’ she said. ‘And when I got that different perspective, that success can be many different ways, that, yes, a decision to keep a child is hard, but when you know there’s support and everything else out there, especially centers like Life First that offers that, it really is a huge enlightenment to go out there and just get educated.’
‘And with Life First not judging and offering the professionalism, that they care, it makes a huge difference,’ Jenkins continued. ‘So I challenge women to get out there and get educated, and go to center, take advantage of centers, that offer their services.’
Fox News Digital’s Kristine Parks contributed reporting.