The phrase “crisis pregnancy center” may not be familiar to some. To help the local community understand our mission and purpose, here’s a little background about who we are and what we do.
WHO IS LIFE’S CHOICES?
Life’s Choices began in 1986 as the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Kutztown located in a small college town in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Like many like-minded centers across the nation, we were born from a desire to offer women facing pregnancy decisions solid information and practical help as they grapple with difficult, highly personal pregnancy choices.
Today, we have two offices, our original site in Kutztown and a second location in nearby Hamburg, Pennsylvania. It is our desire to reach our community with the information and resources needed to make healthy, life-affirming decisions for individuals and families. By providing prenatal resources, personalized education and relational support, we hope to build a positive Berks County for future generations.
We are not a political organization. While we are faith-based, we welcome anyone who comes into our doors regardless of their beliefs, gender or background. The services we provide are always free and confidential.
WHAT DOES LIFE’S CHOICES OFFER?
As a non-profit solely supported by donations from individuals, businesses and churches, Life’s Choices provides women and families with a variety of beneficial resources. Here is a breakdown of what we offer to clients:
Our staff is trained to offer self-administered urine pregnancy tests with clients. We talk them through the process, explain how the test works and make sure they time and read the results properly. We also share with these clients factual information on abortion, including info published by Pennsylvania Department of Health, while being transparent that we do not recommend or perform abortions.
We are also not an adoption agency but can provide referrals for clients considering this option. In addition, we share information to clients considering parenting their child (more on that below). Regardless of the test results, clients leave with good information and a promise of our support whenever they need it.
A professional sonographer conducts ultrasounds in our Kutztown office for clients who have a positive pregnancy test result. This is a limited obstetric scan which determines if there is a viable pregnancy in the uterus as well as the gestational age.
All pregnant women need an ultrasound to medically confirm a pregnancy, including those considering abortion. Clients can take home a picture of their baby from these scans if they wish and all are encouraged to follow up with a doctor.
We work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to provide testing for two of the most common sexually-transmitted infections: chlamydia and gonorrhea. Our staff is trained to walk clients through these self-administered tests, generally urine tests for males and swab tests for females.
We use fact sheets from reliable sources such as the Center for Disease Control to help clients assess their personal risks factors related to STDs and discuss with them how to reduce or eliminate their risks going forward. Test results are available within a few business days and clients return for results and, if needed, treatment for positive tests with a registered nurse.
Our offices stock a supply of commonly needed baby items. These include diapers and wipes, baby clothing, blankets, toiletries and formula. Clients may receive items every three months as needed. Those desiring more items can earn them by participating in our individual education program, Earn While You Learn.
Clients meet weekly with a staff representative for education topics related to their needs. We utilize evidence-based curriculum such as Bright Course and topics range from prenatal education and parenting classes to life skills and personal development. We also offer healthy relationship mentoring.
Many pregnant clients utilize our free, personal childbirth classes with a registered nurse. If they choose, all clients can accumulate points from their classes to earn items needed for their family from our in-house boutique. Others earn gift cards to local stores.
A unique part of our Earn While You Learn program, the Baby Bundle is a special offering of prenatal resources. Often with a partner or support person, pregnant clients take twelve educational classes plus childbirth classes. They can also earn lots of extras including a new infant car seat and newborn photo shoot with a professional photographer.
Life’s Choices offers a range of one-time events for the community from time to time. Past offerings have included early-reading readiness and healthy eating for families. On the horizon are classes on baby sign language as well as a series of classes just for dads. We want to support everyone in our community and this is another way to do that!
Again, we welcome every individual who comes to our office for whatever reason. This includes any woman who has had an abortion. If she chooses to share this part of her story, she will be met with love, compassion and encouragement. For women who want to participate, we offer a small group Bible study to help women process their abortion experience and find closure alongside others with the same experience in their past.
What they say is true — it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes many in our community to provide support to the men and women who walk through our doors. We have actively built connections with many other organizations both locally and nationwide to provide referrals for specific needs.
From housing or financial concerns, to signing up for medical insurance or finding a doctor, to connecting with a community of faith, we are grateful for our network of friends with whom we can connect our clients. Life’s Choices is humbled and grateful to be just one of many arms supporting those in tough circumstances.
WHAT IS LIFE’S CHOICES MISSION & METHOD?
When a client comes to either our Hamburg or Kutztown office for the first time, it’s our goal to offer them a safe and welcoming space to talk about what brought them to Life’s Choices. For clients in a crisis pregnancy situation, our first and foremost concern is the woman in front of us. We want to offer her compassion, not judgment, and we present solid, science-backed and evidence-based information as she considers her choices. We don’t pressure her in any way. As we discuss her situation, we look for ways to see what concerns are on her mind and find ways we can address those needs.
Life’s Choices is a member of Care Net, and we highly endorse this umbrella organization’s idea that we are not simply pro-life but “pro-abundant-life.” While some criticize the pro-life community as having no interest in women once we have “saved the baby,” the reality is that we are a pro-woman organization as well and offer individuals ongoing support regardless of their choices. It’s our goal to offer genuine, caring and practical support for women and men no matter where they are on their journey.
To read some of the myths sometimes spread about crisis pregnancy centers, check out this blog post.
HERE TO SERVE YOU
If you’re seeking to know more about pregnancy centers, we encourage you to reach out and ask us! We are grateful to be able to serve our community, and we love what we do.
And if you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, we welcome you to contact Life’s Choices today for help and support at no cost to you. We are here to offer judgment-free, compassionate and confidential care, and we would love to be a free resource for you.