Guidelines for Responding to Crisis Pregnancy Situations Page

Some Dos and Don’ts

DO:

  • Trust that God has put you right here, right now, to help this person, in this situation, with all your talents and despite all your imperfections
  • Pray your way through the situation
  • As much as possible, get your facts straight before you intervene
  • Be courageous but tactful in broaching the situation
  • Make it clear that your intention is to help the mother do what is best for her (as well as for her unborn baby)
  • Be yourself, be genuine (no phony compassion)
  • Show interest in understanding the person and their particular needs
  • Listen carefully both to what the person says and their non-verbal language
  • Respond empathetically, eg. “This is what I hear you saying…”
  • Build trust and rapport (through your care and empathy) so that the person feels free to express their feelings and discuss the whole situation
  • Remember that your love, together with God’s grace, is the key to empowering someone to choose life
  • Express optimism about the mother’s capacity to make a good choice and deal with her future
  • Try to win the person rather than the argument
  • Deal with the social pressures facing the mother – especially any negative influence from the father, parents, close friends
  • Give practical suggestions and advice carefully and tailored to the person’s needs
  • Be gently assertive in expressing your point of view at the appropriate moment, e.g. “I really don’t think you’re doing the right thing…”
  • Follow the situation through, keep in touch with the woman to see how she is faring

DON’T:

  • Feel you have to be a counseling expert in order to intervene
  • Be hesitant in offering help even if you feel you will initially encounter aloofness or resistance
  • Be naïve, e.g. (1) assume that because a woman is from a churchgoing family she will not be tempted to abort; (2) believe everything people tell you – such as that they are not planning to abort when your intuition tells you otherwise
  • Count on any one tack doing the trick of persuading, e.g. offering shelter or adoption, showing prenatal information
  • Lay a guilt trip on anybody or get into a shouting match as opposed to demonstrating that you are on their side
  • Dwell exclusively on the baby’s right to life or on the duty to obey the Church’s teaching
  • Be reticent to build on whatever faith you find present, e.g. “Did you ever think that God may have allowed this baby to come into your life for a reason?”
  • Be reluctant to call on others to intervene, especially those with proven counseling skills or those who may have a special influence on the woman
  • Assume that because you seem to have won over the woman she will not turn around and succumb to the pressure of the situation
  • Be too discouraged if the woman has the abortion anyway (nor stop praying for her or offering help)

7 Steps to Follow

  1. Discern whether there is cause for concern, reason to intervene
  2. Discern what your role is in the situation [see 2.1 (a), (j)]
  3. In intervening, follow the list of “Dos and Don’ts” above
  4. If the woman will not talk to you, or is prevented from doing so by someone else (boyfriend, parent, etc.), see if you can find someone else more likely to get through
  5. (a) If the woman or involved parties are Catholic, early in the intervention contact the parish pastor. If he or his associates are unavailable to help, try another priest who knows the woman or family
    (b) If the woman belongs to another Christian denomination, contact the appropriate minister unless you have reason to think they will not be helpful
  6. Do not hesitate to contact pro-life counseling services for (a) advice in dealing with the situation; (b) information on available resources; (c) arranging counseling and other help for the parties concerned
  7. Persevere until the situation has been resolved or until you have found someone trustworthy to pursue the matter
Archdiocesan Pro-Life Strategy
1. Introduction: Some Shaping Principles 
  1.1 The Grace of Conversion 
  1.2 Impetus for a New Pro-Life Strategy 
  1.3 Primary Emphasis of Strategy: Prayer 
  1.4 The Strategy: More Than Prayer 
  1.5 Long-Range View 
  1.6 “Toward a Culture of Life
2. Elements of Strategy 
  2.1 Prayer 
  2.2 Crisis Response 
  2.3 Education 
  2.4 Civic Action 
  2.5 Ecumenical Relations 
  2.6 Liaison with Pro-Life Groups 

The Pro-Life Strategy was developed in 1993
Revised: May 1995, November 1995, February 2000


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