Building on faith: New pro-life pregnancy center hopes to meet needs despite abortion ban

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MISSION – After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a non-profit group decided to push back its opening date, believing that its services would be needed more than ever. But their services will not focus on reproductive health or abortion resources. Instead, he will try to convince women not to have abortions elsewhere and to manage their unplanned pregnancy.

At the heart of Mission, Audrey Jo Muñoz prepares the opening of Jo-Nic Bloom, a non-profit faith-based organization that aims to counsel pregnant women through the word of God. However, Muñoz is adamant that this is a judgment-free zone open to all.

“This is a pro-life organization, but regardless of their position, we open our doors,” said Muñoz, the association’s founder. “No matter what you believe, we’re here to convey Bible truth, but ultimately it’s between God and them.”

Their pregnancy and wellness studio will offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and faith-based counseling for pregnancies, divorces, or other difficult situations.

The facility will have two training and discipleship classrooms, three consulting rooms and an ultrasound room. They will also have a boutique with free clothes for mother and baby, access to computers, Wi-Fi and printers, and a coffee bar.

Their services will be free but are currently seeking financial assistance from the community to help them get started and run.

Just past the lobby, at the entrance to their main hallway, hangs a bell that Muñoz says they will ring for “any salutes that occur.”

Muñoz explained that if a pregnant woman came forward considering an abortion, she would first confirm that she was pregnant.

“The hope is that she will also have the ultrasound,” she said, “and then through the conversation, through the consultation with the Bloom Coaches, if the conversation lends itself to talking about Jesus Christ and biblical truth and she decides to give her life to him, we will say the prayer of salvation and then we will ring the bell in his honor.

CONCERNS

Muñoz is very open that Jo-Nic Studio is a faith-based organization that hopes to deter people from having abortions, which not all crisis pregnancy centers do.

Dallas family physician Dr. Stephanie Mischell says that while she doesn’t know Jo-Nic Bloom specifically, she has a lot of experience with patients who come to crisis pregnancy centers and says she finds them harmful to patients.

“These organizations primarily exist to convince people not to have abortions and have been known to take really drastic measures to do so, including providing false or misleading information,” said Mischell, a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health.

“I have had many patients who come to pregnancy centers under the impression that they can access abortion care or that they will actually discuss it as an option only to find out that it is not the case,” she said.

In those experiences, Mischell said care was delayed because a crisis pregnancy center told patients they had to wait to access services like an appointment ultrasound, or that they received incorrect information about their own pregnancy and especially incorrect information about optional abortion.

“When I hear this type of organization popping up, it’s hard for me to believe they’re actually going to provide patient care,” she said. “Regardless of what you personally think about abortion, I think it’s just wrong to lie or mislead someone about their own health or their own pregnancy.”

And while Jo-Nic Bloom is clear about her intentions to dissuade people from having abortions, Mischell said she believes there’s still potential for harm, particularly because they aren’t held to the same level of care than health professionals.

Mischell also pointed out that people seek abortions for different kinds of reasons, whether it’s because their health is at risk, because their mental health is at risk, for financial reasons, or it’s just the right option for them.

“And while I certainly want everyone who is pregnant to have access to the resources to have a healthy pregnancy, although every pregnant person had access to health care, had access to things to take care of a newborn — all of that sort of stuff that we really don’t have, especially in Texas — there would always be a need for abortions,” Mischell said.

“There are no amount of services that can replace (abortions) that don’t still force someone to carry a pregnancy to term,” she said.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Despite losing the battle for abortion rights in court, pro-abortion groups still worked hard to provide whatever resources they could to those in need.

Volunteers working with South Texans for Reproductive Justice spent a few hours on a recent Saturday preparing care packages that will be shipped for free to anyone who requests them.

They were filled with one dose of emergency contraception, three condoms, two packs of lubricant, two pregnancy tests and a resource kit with information on abortion, consent and other resources. , according to Melissa Arjona, founder of STRJ.

The group prepared packages during the “packing party” in anticipation of the increased demand they have experienced since the Supreme Court ruling.

“We’ve had them more frequently since SB 8,” said Noemi Pratt, STRJ’s board secretary, referring to state law that banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy that went into effect. in September.

“The first week after the cancellation of Roe v. Wade, we shipped about 618 packages and this week, which is the second week, we received another 93 requests,” she said. “We’re definitely seeing people wanting to have a plan B at home ready just in case, so it’s just another preventative to try and not get pregnant.”

This year, they have already shipped around 5,800 packages. Throughout the last year, they shipped around 2,000.

People can request a package through a link posted on the organization’s Instagram page.

OPEN DOORS

Muñoz said one of the reasons she was inspired to open her pregnancy studio is that she had ended up with an unexpected pregnancy before it led to an abortion.

“I went through this, (an) unplanned pregnancy when I was a teenager,” she said. “No one has told me the biblical truth.”

“They all said, ‘You have a good life ahead of you; why do you want to have this baby, you will never finish college,” she continued. “Through all these stages, no one ever said, ‘But let me just tell you the Bible truth.'”

She says now she has to live with the thought that if only someone had pointed her to the word of God, things might have been different.

“But God works everything for good, so if we can be the place that just provides biblical truth…we’re not God, so if she chooses otherwise, it’s between her and God,” Muñoz said, “but we have done our part.”

But if a person chooses to have an abortion and needs bereavement counseling afterwards, Muñoz said her doors would also be open to them through what she calls “Bloom by His Grace Curriculum.”

For people considering an abortion because they don’t have the resources to care for a child, she said they would first try to make sure the pregnant person is in a safe environment. safe and has emotional support.

They would also contact the community if she needed housing and try to partner with the community to make sure she is safe and has a safe place to live, Muñoz said, adding that they would try to get them housing assistance and help them. register for Medicaid benefits.

“We are not, per se, declaring that we have all the answers, but we know we serve a good God and with the help of the community we will find out,” she said.

She said her main concern was that there was a misconception of what it means to be pro-life, which for her means being about all of life, not just the baby’s life.

“We are here (so) that when mom walks through the door, she is our priority. Baby’s second,” she said. “There’s a misconception that we’re going to condemn her and we’re going to point fingers at her and I’m afraid that will keep women out.”

PRECAUTIONS

The pregnancy studio is currently due to open in August, but its total number of staff is still unclear and depends on how much money it is able to raise from the community.

Jo-Nic Bloom is affiliated with Friends of the Great Commission, a 501(c)(3) that provides donations, administration, accounting, and compliance services to officers performing ministry work.

Although the new nonprofit will ultimately leave the decision to have an abortion up to the individual, Mischell suggested a few ways for individuals to protect themselves from the risks of being misled by pregnancy centers in the event of general crisis.

“One of them is really asking blank questions like, ‘Do you provide abortion services? Do you offer abortion referrals? What are the qualifications of the person performing this ultrasound? Michelle said. “It’s about asking really direct questions so people can’t help but answer them and be suspicious if people don’t give you direct answers.”

“There is also a website called CrisisPregnancyCenterMap.com where people investigate different organizations and try to find out whether or not they provide real care there at the crisis pregnancy center,” she said. . “So looking at things like that could potentially be helpful.”

Mischell said that in a newer place like Nic-Bloom, who she reiterated she’s unfamiliar with and unfamiliar with their practices, it might take a while to really find out if they’re providing genuine care. . Either way, she warned that patients should know who they are talking to, what their background is and have a blank list of the types of services that are provided.

With the abortion ban now in place in Texas, another possible concern among people considering an abortion is sharing private information such as their period or other information that could indicate their pregnancy status.

Muñoz, however, assured that privacy is among their highest priorities and reiterated that they will not judge anyone who asks for their help.

“First and foremost, we care about mom; we want to make sure she’s comfortable, that she’s safe,” Muñoz said. “We are non-judgmental. If she doesn’t want to talk about Jesus, we don’t have to talk about Jesus. She’s going to help lead this conversation with love, and again, we’re not judging here.

“We can only give him Bible truth, tell him what’s available in the community, how we can help him, what his options are,” Muñoz added. “She ultimately makes this decision herself and we support and love her regardless.”

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