What can Orthodox Christians do besides advocating for the overturn of Roe vs. Wade? Roman Catholicism in many areas in the United States sponsors crisis pregnancy programs that offer support to pregnant women who decide to carry their child. These programs offer counseling, financial aid, medical and housing assistance, clothing, and other essential services. When I served as a priest in Toledo, the agency with which our parish worked was Heartbeat of Toledo. So if there are no Orthodox resources in your area, I would encourage you to volunteer and get involved in similar programs.
However the good news is that there are crisis pregnancy ministries sponsored by Orthodox churches. The first that comes to mind is ZOE for Life. ZOE offers a full functioning ministry in Cleveland, OH and maintains a smaller program in Michigan. These are the two that I know of. The following description is from the ZOE for Life in Cleveland web page:
ZOE serves as a conduit, guiding women to a wider range of support organizations, providing them with a more attractive set of options and hopefully a more promising outlook on their situation. For example, there is counseling, housing assistance, medical assistance, prenatal care, adoption and other services available that usually unknown to most women in crisis pregnancies. It is ZOE’s goal to offer more options to women in distress to empower them to make life saving decisions for their babies as well as themselves. (http://www.zoeforlifeonline.org/)
In Chicago we have the Martha Mary House (under the Metropolis of Chicago in the GOA) in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. (There are other locations throughout the country). The Martha Mary House provides a residency program offering a variety of services to single young women who are pregnant. Here is a summary of what they offer from their web page:
We are here to provide free help to you and your child, and to welcome you into our home…. Located in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, we provide:
- Housing in a safe, family-style home
- Healthy meals
- Access to medical care
- Spiritual guidance
- Career preparation
- Parenting and life skills classes
- Referrals to counseling services
- Our goal is to offer practical, emotional and spiritual support through pregnancy and childbirth, and to help you choose the best path for both you and your child going forward.
As Orthodox Christians we should be advocating for the development of such ministries through our Pan-Orthodox clergy and lay groups. It would be great if Zoe for Life Chapters could be started in different places throughout the Midwest. In Chicago there is an Orthodox Christians for Life Chapter. Father Herman Kincaid of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Burr Ridge is the representative; and he may be contacted to learn more. Ask your parish priest for further guidance regarding all of the above.
Ministries like ZOE for Life and Martha and Mary House are wonderful examples of how we can be pro-life through actual deeds of love and kindness. Contact them and see how you can volunteer to help, or work towards initiating these or similar ministries in your area.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
+Paul of Chicago