“We see lives transformed. We are seeing healed lives,” said Kristi Brown, executive director of Mountain Region Pregnancy Services . “We see lives turned upside down all the time in this ministry, and that’s our reason we get up every day and do what we do, and we do it with love and compassion. You often find that these families, even though they are in a very difficult situation, just need someone to listen to them. They need someone to look after.
Describing itself as a “life-affirming pregnancy center,” MAPS does not perform or refer abortions. Instead, he works with women and couples facing unplanned pregnancy or miscarriage, providing a variety of pregnancy and bereavement services. The center operates from a Christian worldview, though staff only discuss faith with clients who express a willingness to talk about it, Brown said – the 310 clients served last year included self-proclaimed Christians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Atheists and Agnostics.
The organization has been around since 1981, but until this week operated out of one location in Asheville. While MAPS provides medical services at pregnancy centers in Burnsville and Mars Hill, the new office that opened May 17 in Waynesville is its first true satellite campus.
“We know there is a need because we serve the women of Asheville County,” Brown said. “We had been engaged in a few attempts in the past to set up a pregnancy center here and for various reasons these never materialized.”
Last year, Brown said, “our hearts began to stir” once again to establish a pregnancy center in Haywood County, and MAPS formed a task force with friends of the ministry to pray and discuss the matter. Within about six months, the group had a “clear direction” moving forward, and MAPS signed the lease in December. Brown said they expected to open months earlier, but late equipment orders pushed the date back.
Now, MAPS is opening its doors amid national unrest over the future of legalized abortion in the United States.
If Roe v Wade is overturned, each state’s legislature will determine the legality of the proceeding. Unlike many other Southern states, North Carolina currently has no law in effect that would immediately restrict access to abortion if Roe v. Wade.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t affect us in the sense that we will continue to provide all of our services,” Brown said of the impending Supreme Court ruling. “Even if the law is changed, there will still be unplanned pregnancies and there will still be women in pregnancy crisis who need help and support.”
MAPS services fall into two categories: pregnancy resources and bereavement counselling.
For clients facing an unplanned pregnancy, the association offers medical-grade pregnancy tests and a limited OB ultrasound to ensure the baby is in the right place in the womb and their heart is beating. Clients can then receive counseling to discuss their options – adoption, abortion or parenthood.
“They decide what they want to do – it’s their choice,” Brown said.
For those who choose to become parents, MAPS offers free parenting courses. People who participate in the program walk away with over $350 worth of free baby supplies.
MAPS also provides bereavement services. Individual bereavement counseling is available for those who have lost a baby. Compassionate scans, for women who have lost a child and then become pregnant again, record the new baby’s heartbeat and put it in a stuffed animal for her to take home, a talisman to soothe the anxiety of the new pregnancy. MAPS’ “very unique” prenatal diagnostic program works with women and families who have been told the child they are carrying is unlikely to survive, Brown said, helping them plan the celebration of life and funeral services, creating memories with the baby, and understanding what happens to the mother’s body as the pregnancy continues.
The non-profit organization also offers post-abortion recovery classes. Brown is firm in her position that abortion is an inherently harmful procedure.
“If you truly understand the impact of abortion and what it does in a woman’s life, you would never say in a million years that it was quick, easy and painless,” Brown said. . “The consequences are so profound, and those consequences ripple through someone’s whole life. I’ve never met a woman who had an abortion who couldn’t recount every detail of that horrible day in her life. She remembers it like it was yesterday, even though it was 20 years ago.
Brown quoted a study published in January 2017 in Cambridge University Press which, after analyzing research published from 1995 to 2009, found a “moderate to strongly increased risk of mental health problems after an abortion”. According to the study results, women who had an abortion had an 81% risk of mental health problems, with 10% of the incidence attributable to the abortion.
“The strongest estimates of increased subgroup risk occurred when abortion was compared to full-term pregnancy and when outcomes were for substance use and suicidal behavior,” the study found.
Although the study is widely cited, it is also disputed. planned parenthood publication on the subject of mental health after an abortion points to an Academy of the Royal Medical Colleges exam of studies on the emotional effects of abortion published in English between 1990 and 2011. She concluded that rates of mental health problems among women with unwanted pregnancies were the same whether they had an abortion or had given birth.
Brown also said abortion, especially chemical abortion, is not without risks. She pointed a 2006 study published in Annals of Pharmacotherapy which analyzed 607 adverse event reports submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration over a four-year period involving the abortive chemical mifepristone. Of the 607 cases, 513 required surgery and the most common complications were bleeding and infection. Of 237 hemorrhages, one was fatal and 42 were life-threatening, while three of the 66 infections were fatal and four were life-threatening.
An FDA Questions and answers on the drug states that there were 26 reports of deaths associated with mifepristone between June 30, 2021 and the product’s approval in September 2000. However, the article states that the deaths “cannot with certainty be attributed causally to mifepristone due to concurrent use of other medications, other medical or surgical treatments, coexisting medical conditions, and gaps in patient health information and clinical management of the patient.
Although MAPS does not refer to abortions, Brown said he is committed to supporting expectant parents through what is often one of the most difficult seasons of their lives.
“Our mothers who choose life and our fathers who choose life, they always tell us when the baby comes, ‘I love my child, I can’t imagine life without my child, my life is so much richer thanks to my kid’,” Brown said. “You never hear the opposite.”
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