Every year directors and staff of pregnancy help centers, maternity homes and after-birth homes come together for a day to share and learn from one another.
The latest gathering took place on June 27, 2023, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Education Building in Venice, and covered a wide variety of topics.
Firstly, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux provided the group an update on the national “Walking with Moms in Need” program, which educates (in both English and Spanish) Parish staff and the faithful about how to help pregnant moms in need, including where to send them for help (https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need).
There are 22 pregnancy help centers and nine residential maternity and after-birth homes within the Diocese, standing ready to help. Importantly, there are many financial and volunteering opportunities available to support pregnancy help centers.
Jacqueline Zdrojowy, Executive Director of Pregnancy Solutions, which has offices in Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte and Arcadia, affirmed the value of the new program and how it has helped to build bridges with people in local Parishes. She said the program has unified the pregnancy help centers, helping moms avoid confusion when seeking help.
In a video message about the national program (available through the link above), Bishop Frank J. Dewane stresses how the Church has built a Culture of Life and how we must all stand as a voice for the voiceless – the unborn. It is through the “Walking with Moms in Need” program that Parishes are to be “Islands of Mercy” in a sea of indifference and a field hospital for those in search of support, as called on by Pope Francis.
Bishop Dewane has extended an invitation for the faithful to join in the “Walking with Moms in Need” program “guided by the Holy Spirit, let us offer Christ’s presence and love to mothers in their time of need through our faithful service and support.”
Also discussed during the pregnancy resource network meeting were two proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments that sponsor groups hope to see on the November 2024 ballot. Berdeaux explained concerns with both proposals and how interested attendees can monitor the progress of each campaign.
Karin Barbito, of Support After Abortion, presented information on two “white papers” based on commissioned research:
- Women’s Research – “Study shows long-term negative impact of medication abortion.”
- Men’s Research – “Study shows long-term negative impact of abortion on men.”
(These reports are available for download at www.SupportAfterAbortion.com.)
Barbito explained that the growing trend in the use of “medication” – also known as chemical abortions – indicates 80% of abortions are now performed using pills rather than surgery. Complications are as high as 85% with many women experiencing multiple adverse reactions.
The majority of women and men who have experienced abortion want healing but don’t know where to go for help. Support After Abortion is shifting the conversation to compassion and support for those impacted by abortion. The website offers excellent introductory materials, “Keys to Hope & Healing” and “Unraveled Roots.”
In addition, Barbito said there is a new database which provides information on healing programs across the country, including through a helpline 844-289-4673 and website, while also promoting the Catholic Church’s program, known as Project Rachel, at 941-412-5860 or www.hopeafterabortion.com.
Berdeaux described the network meeting attendees as the “’first responders’ who help women and men navigate the help that is available to them when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.”
All Parishes are encouraged to organize tours of their local agencies so they can meet the dedicated workers and determine how they can help.
“Continued advertisements are needed to make sure that all parishioners know where to send a pregnant woman in need,” Berdeaux said.
For more information, see www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068.