Recently, the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed by Elizabeth Jahr, in which she asserts “pro-life groups funnel tremendous resources into a legal war against abortion in the US without providing adequate practical support for women to maintain pregnancies. Yet not being able to afford a child is one of the main reasons women have abortions.”

In fact, the legal victories Ms. Jahr criticizes have saved many lives, and pro-life events, like March for Life, serve to establish new and continuing support for Pregnancy Resource Centers and other organizations that care for women and children.

Dr. Michael New, assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Jeanneane Maxon, vice president for external affairs and corporate counsel at Americans United for Life, both presented well-reasoned responses to the misguided assertion that resources spent on legal battles and pro-life rallies are a disservice to the unborn.

New, using a resource published by the Family Research Council, pointed out that Jahr:

… seems oblivious to the fact that pro-lifers fund a vast network of pregnancy resource centers that provide medical, emotional, and financial support to thousands of women facing unplanned pregnancies every year. A 2010 study by the Family Research Council identified nearly 2,000 US pregnancy care centers that annually assist more than 2.3 million women with pregnancy support, abstinence counseling, and public health access. A conservative estimate of community cost savings for these services, which are predominantly privately funded, during 2010 is more than $100 million annually.” The number of pregnancy resources centers continues to grow exponentially while the number of abortion facilities reaches historic lows, many closing due to safety concerns.

New also makes a strong point correlating stricter abortion regulation and protection of the unborn, noting “[t]hese incremental laws serve both a protective and an educational purpose. For instance, the debate over banning partial-birth abortion clearly demonstrated the extremely permissive nature of abortion policy in theUnited States. Perhaps pro-life efforts to protect the unborn are more extensive than Jahr realizes.”

Jeanneane Maxon responded eloquently by highlighting her experience working with Pregnancy Resource Centers. She recounted that at the time Jahr’s op-ed was published Maxon was attending a CareNet conference, an organization that supports over 1,000 pregnancy resource centers around the country.

I was surrounded by more than a thousand staff members and volunteers who have given countless hours of time, and countless dollars, to compassionately care for women facing an abortion decision. From age seven, I’ve witnessed and shared in the loving responsibility of providing whatever assistance a pregnant mother might need, as my own mother worked tirelessly as an executive director of a pregnancy care center. Pro-life Americans understand this kind of daily dedication — responding with money, time and treasure to nurture the potential of every unborn life with tangible resources.

I, too, have been involved with Pregnancy Resource Centers since I was a child and as an adult, became a trained counselor. There are no more selfless, caring, and loving people than the men and women I served with at Pregnancy Resource Centers. We worked not only to promote life, but we also provided a shoulder to cry on, transportation, clothing, diapers, and countless other resources to women throughout pregnancy and well beyond.

Women in crisis pregnancies and their unborn children are also protected by the very laws groups like the Family Research Council and Americans United for Life advocate. Maxon notes that legislation pushing for stronger clinic regulations and more informed consent for women serves to create effective and much-needed protections.

Maxon also noted that events such as the March for Life are a necessary component in effectively aiding women and children in crisis: “(A)t the March for Life thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life charities, churches, synagogues, non-profits, individuals, and business leaders — join together to reconfirm their belief in something larger than themselves. Family celebrations are a perfect way to recommit to the reality of life and all it demands. Sometimes the best way to show your love for people is a party or a memorial, a celebration of the hope that draws us together.”

Far from being a disservice to women or the unborn, pro-life legal efforts and pro-life events serve to create stronger protections for women and unborn children and also serve to educate the public — generating more supporters, funds, and loving care.