By Dave Andrusko
We published stories about the saintly work of Pregnancy Help Centers virtually every day. Their kindness is legendary, and what they offer women and girls with unplanned pregnancies cannot be praised enough.
However, you wouldn’t—or least I wouldn’t—expect a joint op-ed to appear in USA Today that sang the praises of another woman-helping resource: maternity homes. A typical USA Today news story or op-ed is as far away from Mikaela Kook’s and Shawnte Mallory’s story as the east is from the west.
The headline nicely summarizes their personal experiences:
Abortion felt like an excuse to avoid helping us. Thankfully, we found another option.
We both visited abortion clinics. We were both alone and scared. But it turns out all we needed was support to make a truly free decision.
“Support to make a truly free decision”! How can you argue that women making life and death decisions about the babies are free when they have next to no support? When everyone around them says abort!
Mikaela Kook’s father was so angry that when she refused to have an abortion, he would not allow Kook, a college student, to live at home any longer. Her mother didn’t agree with her husband.
“My mother understood my doubts and found one of the maternity home programs across the country that support women facing pregnancy in difficult circumstances,” Kook writes. “I was nine weeks pregnant when I reached Mary’s Shelter in Virginia that September, and was able to live there until and after the birth of my baby.”
Shawnte Mallory was already the mother of two children. “I didn’t know how I was going to afford another child,” she writes, “So I moved in with my mother, who scheduled an appointment for me to have an abortion.”
Fortunately, “A health care worker told me about maternity homes. I stayed at Mary’s Shelter with my children until 2015 and was encouraged to learn and grow.” She writes “In 2016, I studied for and became a certified nursing assistant.”
She sings the praises of Mary’s Shelter. “Everyone at Mary’s Shelter was incredibly supportive and one staff member in particular became almost a second mother to me,” she writes.
There is, of course, much more to their stories—“Of course life was still difficult,” Mallory writes– but adds, “My children are my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Mikaela Kook has reconciled with her father who “adores his granddaughter.”
They conclude on a truly wonderful note.
“Instead of judging us for keeping our babies, we were given resources to thrive. There are an estimated 300 to 400 maternity housing programs in the United States. From providing us with food and lodging as well as counseling, parenting classes, and access to educational resources – support was there when we felt lost and overwhelmed.
“Instead of judging” indeed. There were plenty of their friends who told them “abortion was the answer,” but instead of listening to them “We said yes to hope.”
Abortion was used as an excuse to avoid helping us, but choosing life and getting connected to support set us on a positive trajectory that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Every life is valuable – including our lives, and our babies’ lives. No woman should be pressured into ending a pregnancy.