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10/5/2012 10:48:00 AM
They aim to turn surprises into families
Mother and Child Education Center photo by Tim Baker
Children play during a Mother and Child Education Center weekend session.
Mother and Child Education Center photo by Tim Baker
Children play during a Mother and Child Education Center weekend session.

In the respect life effort, politics is not their thing. They know advocacy in the halls of power is important. But they prefer to change surprise pregnancies into families one baby at a time.

Birthright in Hillsboro, Newport and Salem, 1st Way in Eugene and the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland are pregnancy resource centers offering support to women and families who otherwise might consider abortion. Free pregnancy tests, clothing, diapers, food and parenting education are available at these Catholic-inspired locations. Some offer ultrasounds and hotlines.

In each center, volunteers are the heart of the operation. Scores offer vital background support while others are trained to meet one-on-one with pregnant women.

Hildy Boespflug, a nurse from Turner who has been involved with Birthright of Salem, has called the volunteers “midwives to the hearts of women in crisis pregnancies, helping to give birth to their hearts of motherly love for their unborn children.”

Regardless of what happens in the public policy arena, there will be a need for these ministries for a long time, Terry Ianora, director of 1st Way, told the Sentinel in 2007. “There will always be women distressed about their pregnancy.” There are a lot of resources in Eugene, she says — kind doctors and ways to meet living expenses.

But the women need to have hope. “We try to bridge that uncertainty,” Ianora said.
Just across from a bustling Trader Joe's parking lot in Northeast Portland, a cozy house offers a lot of what parents or expecting parents really need.

"Everything we do is about helping the mom have confidence in herself and feel ready to be a mom and feel good about being a mom," said Martha MacIver, director of the Mother and Child Education Center since 1993. "We're here to serve women who know they're pregnant, women who hope they're pregnant and women who are afraid they're pregnant."

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