‘It was June 1, 2006. I will never forget that date.” That was the day Angela Jozwicki had an abortion. She had grown up with “a lot of screaming” around her and was using drugs by the time she was 14. In 2006, she was 22 and found herself pregnant. “I knew in my heart that a baby would stop me from having drugs, but I wasn’t ready,” she told Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, of The Catholic Association Foundation, for an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Court earlier this year. “I used abortion to avoid getting better,” she confessed.
Angela didn’t think she would ever be able to have a baby in her life. “I was taught that you get married, buy a house, and you have a baby. Because I did not see that in my future, I never thought I would have a baby.” In October 2015, a dollar-store pregnancy test told her she was pregnant again. She was still using drugs, so she made an appointment for another abortion. But the baby’s father didn’t show up when he was supposed to drive her to the clinic on the morning of the appointment. She called him repeatedly, and he did not answer the phone. She believes God showed up that morning instead. “I decided that I would keep that baby.”
She started making calls to pregnancy help centers. Soundview Pregnancy Services in Centereach, N.Y., answered her call. One of the members of the staff there, Barbara, talked with Angela during each subsequent week of her pregnancy, as she got educated about pregnancy and child care. Barbara was even at the hospital when it came time for Angela to deliver her baby. Staff at the care center helped her look ahead to how to provide for the two of them by helping her enroll in the Women, Infant, and Children supplemental nutrition program (WIC) and apply for financial assistance during her pregnancy and the first months with her son, Cameryn.
At first, Angela didn’t think she could turn to her mother for help, but the center helped them, too, in their strained relationship. As a result, a grandmother would help her daughter and grandson with a place to stay as Angela looked toward getting a job once Cameryn was old enough for preschool. “I always thought that people were fake, but they are genuine,” she said about the people at the care center. “This is who they really are. They will help me to raise my son to be genuine.”
Brenda Coe is another of the 13 women Andrea Picciotti-Bayer interviewed before the Supreme Court heard a case and ultimately gave a reprieve to pregnancy-care centers in California. Coe and her husband were introduced by a mutual friend to Krystal, a pregnant single mother. She had a two-year-old son and couldn’t raise another child in their circumstances. Krystal had already sought help from the Pregnancy Help Center in Torrance, Calif., confirming her pregnancy and talking with them about adoption. Once she met the Coes, she asked them if they would adopt her baby. The center became a part of all of their lives. Brenda would accompany Krystal through ultrasounds and helped her interview the obstetrician she would chose for her and the baby’s care (the doctor also volunteered at the center). Brenda and her husband were present when their child was born, and they all stay connected through pictures and phone conversations.
Brenda is “overjoyed” by the gift of her child and believes that “birth parents should be encouraged to be the best God wants them to be so that their adopted children can find them in a strong place.”
“Women are not being forced into not having an abortion but are being shown that they have options and resources to choose life,” Brenda says of her experience. “The center removes a ‘crisis’ a woman is facing so that she can make a positive, life-affirming choice.”
There are more stories, and from so many centers around the country. In 2017 alone, 2,752 pregnancy-care centers provided almost 2 million people with free services, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
I’ve had them on my mind lately because at least two people in two days referred to these centers as signs of hope and opportunities for support. As the nation marked the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush, it seemed to mourn a bygone era of decency and civility, too. It’s a credit to the way he lived his life, and with family at the center, that he inspired such a tribute. But we ought not let this be a nostalgic end. We are not powerless. Take up the virtues. There are people among us who do so, and they make it possible for others to do the same. That’s certainly bound to be more fruitful than believing our good days and people are long gone.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.