The Pro-Life Pregnancy Help Movement
45 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 5 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
More pro-life activists are said to participate in the “individual outreach” or “pregnancy help” wing of the pro-life movement than in any other wing, yet this form of activism has received little scholarly attention. The pregnancy help wing of the movement offers counseling, material assistance, and other services to pregnant women and their families, typically at community-based “pregnancy centers.” Its existence potentially challenges conventional wisdom about the pro-life movement’s orientation toward women and the welfare state, and it also presents its own puzzle: it has grown even while the pro-life movement’s political access has increased. This paper presents an overview of the pro-life pregnancy help movement, using data from original national surveys of pregnancy center directors and their staff, interviews of movement leaders, movement documents, and observation of movement activities. It explores the activities of the pregnancy help movement and the characteristics, motives, and political orientations of its participants. It also assesses the contributions of political factors - poor political access and prospects for outlawing abortion and a partisan alignment that offers few outlets for pro-life, pro-social welfare activism – in the development of the pregnancy help movement, concluding that their roles are minimal.
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