He walked down that road to Jericho totally unaware of the robbers hiding just beyond the turn. In dead silence they awaited their quarry, knowing that once he turned escape would be impossible. To them it didn’t matter who came along. For money, they were willing to beat up anyone. That meeting of predator and prey set the stage for perhaps the most famous of all Jesus’ parables. And in our abortion soaked culture, it reminds us about the work of truly good Samaritans.
Our family vacation last year brought us to Jackson, Wyoming, nestled at the foot of the Tetons. Ranked among the nation’s best vacation spots, Jackson has something for everyone: beautiful scenery, outdoor activities galore, a Wild West themed downtown complete with saloon and nightly gun fight, stores selling everything from trinkets to art worth thousands. Perhaps that’s what made Turning Point so surprising to see. Just off the main street of that vacation-happy town was this crisis pregnancy center.
Places like Turning Point have become increasingly prevalent. Recent estimates put the number at over 2200 nationwide. They exist because the need is so great; many people have come to that life-changing bend in the road. It isn’t just the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. It is the beatings they receive from a culture more than willing to take their babies, their dignity, relationships, even their lives.
We know nothing about the victim in Jesus’ parable. We do know about his route. The road to Jericho was notoriously dangerous. Maybe that’s why the priest and Levite were unwilling to stop. Or maybe they made judgments about the type of person who would that road. Those ministering in crisis pregnancy centers put such judgments behind them. They work with young and old, rich and poor, women and men. They tend to the needy of any faith or no faith. It doesn’t matter that the girl is white and the boy black, or that she’s only thirteen, or that she’s 40 and on her third unwed pregnancy, or even that she’s already had the abortion. They see the wounds and understand the need to act quickly before they become worse.
Those coming to the centers may be afraid, angry, confused, doubtful, even depressed. Some do not know whether they are pregnant. Others come feeling that abortion is the only way out. All find themselves at a turning point. Whatever the circumstances, trained caregivers provide the facts. They offer free pregnancy testing. They give women the chance to tell their stories, perhaps for the first time. Using videos, models of developing babies, and even ultrasound, caregivers educate women about developing new life. They offer the testimonies of others women who have been there, done that. The centers assist women in obtaining insurance, financial assistance, clothing, and shelter. They make referrals to supportive medical providers. They explain adoption alternatives. They counsel women on the risks of abortion. The centers seek to reach women at their spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional levels. Through Godly and compassionate care, caregivers help women make life-affirming choices. They give them reason to hope.
Some accuse centers of being more interested pro-life ideology than in women. They claim that once the babies are born, centers drop women like hot potatoes. But crisis caregivers understand that a risk to a baby is a risk to a mother. Physically, abortion may lead to serious injury, inability to carry other babies to term, even death. Emotionally, abortion often scars women far worse than any abortionist’s tools. In the hearts of caregivers, both baby and mother are sacred. And caregivers help women (and men) long after birth, even long after an abortion. True, a pregnancy center does not care for the woman and child for the rest of their lives, but then, neither did the Samaritan provide lifetime care for that Jericho Road victim. Even still, Jesus made that Samaritan the textbook example of a neighbor. It is enough that crisis caregivers help those needy they pass on the road of life, and then hand them off to others to do the same.
Crisis pregnancy centers work, and work well, which is why pro-abortion forces can’t stand them. To the culture of death, the crisis isn’t another pregnancy. The crisis is another baby. Pregnancy centers are competing to save lives that organizations like Planned Parenthood are trying to end. So abortion supporters are working to close the centers. They promote laws requiring centers to advise women about abortion alternatives. That’s like requiring a cop to tell a person threatening murder where he can buy a gun. And it’s terribly ironic given that groups like Planned Parenthood have routinely opposed informed consent and parental notice laws and have regularly tried to stop centers from showing ultrasound images to expectant women.
Why the opposition? Here’s a big reason: an abortion costs between $200 and $2000. One conservative estimate is that in 2005 alone, Planned Parenthood collected about $98.5 million from abortions. And, of course, the abortion industry has a friend in the Obama Administration. The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget gives Planned Parenthood $327,356,000 ⎯ a $10 million increase. Crisis pregnancy centers will get nothing. After all, they promote life, and for free.
But the lack of federal funding won’t stop them. Crisis caregivers will continue to compete for the lives of mother and baby. Good Samaritans always find ways to help, whatever the need. Wherever the road may turn.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, where they raise their six kids.
© Paul V. Esposito 2010. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Comments? Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/