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Regional pregnancy resource collaborative starts Oct. 1

September 28, 2017
Catholic San Francisco

Abortion-vulnerable women in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Northern California will have wider access to pro-life counseling and medical services, under a collaborative of pregnancy resource centers launching Oct. 1, Respect Life Sunday.

The coalition, Options United for Life Northern California Pregnancy Resource Collaborative Network, includes Options United, a Pasadena-based a nonprofit pro-life digital advertising provider and call center. Options United helps crisis pregnancy centers that often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the ever-changing marketing and communication challenges of today.

In cooperation with the archdiocese and seven surrounding Northern California dioceses, the network will bring clients to dozens of local nonprofits serving thousands of families. Currently these clinics operate at about 30 percent capacity. The plan is to build capacity, collaboration and community via digital marketing, while respecting the autonomy of each individual pregnancy center or clinic. Similar efforts in Southern California have generated 15,000 inquiries per year with over 5,000 referrals to local ministries.

“This type of unity and collective marketing is what is so needed in our often fragmented efforts,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said. “The ability to offer local, practical and life-affirming resources in a collaborative spirit is integral to our pro-life mission of helping one another and of helping women choose life.”

United for Life, a nonsectarian pro-life educational organization founded in San Francisco in 1971 by Father Francis Filice, is funding the network’s first year of operations.

The minimum cost to launch the program was $10,000 per month to cover media markets from Fresno to Santa Rosa, with a potential audience of more than 23 million. Funds generated are used by Options United to place ads on the Internet and operate a call center. The ads appear in search engine results and on websites. The call center is Internet-based.

Counselors with a wide variety of backgrounds receive extensive training to enable them to respond to callers, most of whom are abortion-vulnerable women asking for help with an unwanted pregnancy and often wanting to terminate it.

Lack of financial resources is the top reason women seek an abortion, said Vicki Evans, respect life coordinator for the archdiocese.

“If our centers/clinics can offer the medical, financial and emotional support needed, the reasons for abortion – which seemed so compelling at first – seem more manageable and women are more likely to choose life. This is the goal.

“If they choose abortion, often we won’t find out,” Evans said. “If we do, we offer post-abortion support, knowing we can only do so much.”

Usually, the first centers to get a referral are licensed medical clinics with doctors and nurse practitioners on staff. The centers that offer pregnancy resources will get a referral if the woman is looking for material assistance only, Evans said.

When a call comes in, the Options United counselor first reassures and calms the client, then asks a few questions: “Are you certain you’re pregnant? Can we guide you to a place for a pregnancy test or an ultrasound? Do you know there is a free service-provider near you? Would you like to visit a free clinic before making a decision? Would you like us to schedule an appointment for you?” The caller is then referred to the nearest pro-life pregnancy center equipped to meet her needs.

“The percentage of women who actually call the help line, keep their appointment at the recommended pregnancy center/clinic and then choose life is remarkable,” said Thomas Rudkins, executive director of Options United.

Some of the clinics in the network are Catholic (Sacramento Life Center, Bella Women’s Center) and some are nonsectarian (Support Circle Pregnancy Clinics). All are pro-life from the standpoint that abortion services are not provided or referred for, Evans said.

The clinics/centers listed on the archdiocese’s website go out of their way to stress that they are available to provide non-judgmental help, she said. The list can be accessed at http://sfarchdiocese.org/home/ministries/social-justice-life/respect-life/pregnancy-resources.

For more information on Options United, visit optionsunited.com.


Crisis pregnancy resources

Visit http://sfarchdiocese.org/home/ministries/social-justice-life/respect-life/pregnancy-resources for a list of resources on the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s website.

Visit optionsunited.com for information on the new Options United for Life Northern California Pregnancy Resource Collaborative Network.

Visit www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/index.cfm for U.S. bishops’ resources on abortion.

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