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Pro-Life Counseling Service Helps Pregnant College Students, Celebrates Milestone

Heartbeat International recently announced in a press release that its pro-life hotline, Option Line, has assisted its two-millionth contact. Option Line, which has been in existence since 2003, recently shared with The Cardinal Newman Society some of its experiences, especially those pertaining to college students.

Heartbeat International is a network of pro-life ministries intended to meet the various needs of those facing unplanned pregnancies, and as its website advertizes, its pregnancy helpline is reachable by phone, text message, email, or live chat, at any time of the day or night, to provide support for women in need and to link them to the affiliate ministries nearest them. Heartbeat’s affiliated ministries include maternity homes, pregnancy help centers, medical clinics,and adoption services, and its current affiliates number more than 1,800 around the world.

When asked if there were any frequent characteristics or common threads between the college students who reach out to Option Line, director Sabrina Laycock noted that students of colleges and universities almost always consider abortion either because they are afraid that their pregnancy will interfere with their ability to graduate or because a partner or family member does not want them to keep the baby. She also mentioned that students of religiously-affiliated colleges frequently fear the loss of their reputation.

“You really need to deal with the crisis first, and then introduce God’s love through that,” said Laycock, who worked as a phone counselor before becoming the ministry’s director. She emphasized that Option Line works by easing a young woman’s emotional storm before doing anything else. Only after the woman’s immediate pain and fear have been ministered to does Option Line begin to counsel the woman that the choice is hers and no one else’s, and then begin to offer her abortion alternatives.

When asked what kinds of campus-based initiatives work best for meeting the needs of these women, Laycock replied quite simply that pregnancy centers work the best.

Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, which is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity, has established the MiraVia residential facility on campus to give pregnant mothers and their children free room and board.  The mothers take classes at local colleges and receive material assistance, classes on basic skills, tutoring help and more.  The College of St. Mary in Nebraska announced earlier this year a new dorm for single mothers and their children.

Laycock mentioned that it is increasingly helpful to be present to college students through electronic means. College-age women are more likely to reach out to Option Line through text messaging and online chat than other age groups, and many find out about Option Line through pregnancy apps such as “StandUpGirl.”

Finally, an unfortunate reality that Laycock addressed is the prevalence of date rape among college students. Option Line has counseled many victims of the crime, accompanying them through the traumatic aftermath and putting them in touch with the police, a hospital, or both.

Overall, as Heartbeat’s president Peggy Hartshorn put it, “Every person who contacts Option Line is treated with respect and love. That we have reached the two million mark, one precious life at a time, is astounding. ”Option Line hopes to continue to grow in its ability to encounter abortion-minded women with compassion and care for them in their most acute time of need. 

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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