Maternity homes a key reply in abortion debate

Christopher Bell, Co-Founder of Network Caring for Moms and Babies, Can Tell of a “Best-Kept Secret” 

NORWALK—Getting the news out about America’s approximately 400 pro-life maternity homes is one way to respond to the coarse rhetoric with which Netflix program host Michelle Wolf recently celebrated abortion and mocked its opponents. An online video from July 8 shows a stream of comments, uninformed to say the least, such as this put-down: “These anti-abortion people don’t care about life, they just care about birth.”

The words with which this “comedian” disturbed so many indicate that maternity homes—whose round-the-clock, wide-ranging acts of compassion bring new hope to women’s and infants’ lives—are the best kept secret in the country. Wolf’s audience and all Americans need to learn more about these homes and their supporters, whose mission celebrates birth as a centerpiece of a broader story that can unite people of good will.

Christopher Bell, president of Good Counsel, the country’s largest network of homes with this pro-life, pro-woman, pro-child story, can discuss many individual cases of empowerment. For example, one formerly drug-addicted mom transformed her life while in residence, taking courses that led her to a job as a veterinary assistant. Later, grateful for renewal in her life with her child, she came back to Good Counsel to volunteer at one of the homes.

Beyond individual stories, Bell describes a big picture with these seldom-discussed features:

  • Maternity homes, like the seven currently operated by Good Counsel, welcome pregnant women who are homeless and offer them a sense of community and family.
  • Many times, a woman’s homelessness has resulted from a publicly funded system that excludes those who do not terminate a pregnancy. The background may also entail abuse, illness, drugs or mental health issues.
  • The maternity home staffs provide a range of care to their residents, with the goal of healthy mothers and infants, before and after childbirth.
  • Care and mentoring typically extend beyond childbirth, spanning a number of months—opportunities to improve wellness, gain parenting skills, pursue education and credentials for careers, and also save money from their jobs to help buy vehicles and homes. Moms and their children who stay the course can emerge from their maternity care communities to live as sustainable, independent families.

“Too many folks, including Catholics, think of pro-life maternity homes as quick-fix places,” says Bell, who co-founded Good Counsel 33 years ago. “Offering an alternative to abortion is step one—an option a woman deserves immediately when she is pregnant and homeless. But we’re ready to accompany women and children on a journey that recognizes human dignity through ongoing options.

“Society sometimes favors the wrong fixes that return a mother to desperate conditions,” Bell says. “She emerges without any change in her long-term perspective and may repeat tragedies. Those quick fixes are poor responses to homelessness and family or economic conditions that can keep women trapped.”

No pregnant woman should be homeless, he emphasizes.

Moreover, in a society subjecting more women to domestic violence and depriving them of dignity, maternity homes have stepped in with a wider range of services, for which pro-life donors provide the funding.

“We know we can end homelessness among pregnant women in the United States,” Bell says. Good Counsel’s network—now located in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Alabama—follows an “open intake” model. Various causes of homelessness can equate to lifelong challenges for some moms and their babies, so Good Counsel front-loads a unique feature to its encounters with the marginalized.

The homes have a policy of turning no homeless, pregnant mother away, even if problems such as mental illness or drug addiction may require special care. Counselors and experts on Bell’s team connect these moms to additional services.

Tireless personal commitments to the lives of women and children, far from a focus on birth only, are demonstrated quietly but persistently among today’s generation of maternity homes. Representing investments and sacrifices made around the country, with little personal gain or publicity, these homes offer responses when uninformed mockery polarizes society on the subject of abortion.

Bell is ready to discuss the responses he has seen first-hand so that a best-kept secret can inform and inspire more people of good will.

Malta House Malta House is the only home for pregnant women above the age of 18 in Fairfield County, and one of a limited number of programs for young homeless mothers and their babies.

Malta House is located in Norwalk and promotes the dignity of God-given life by providing a nurturing home environment, support services and independent living skills to pregnant and parenting mothers of all faiths and their children.

Mothers at Malta House receive on-site counseling, financial education, parental development followed by transitional and post-residential support.

To contact Malta House: 5 Prowitt St, Norwalk, CT 06855; Phone: 203 857-0088

Christopher Bell co-founded Good Counsel with Franciscan Fr. Benedict Groeschel in [1985].

To contact Chris Bell and Good Counsel: Bill Schmitt  | | 574.276.0340