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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Women’s Week: Center educates women, men on pregnancy

By Tayler Covington

Education is a powerful tool when making choices about a pregnancy, said Tamara Anderson, the executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Salt Lake City.

“We want women empowered with information and the correct, truthful information,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of empowerment that comes from being able to make a very informed choice, not just a partially informed choice.”

The Pregnancy Resource Center provides support for people unprepared for pregnancy and educates them about options when it comes to having a child.

The center was founded in 1985 by two couples and since then has served more than 15,000 clients free of charge. It offers free services including options counseling, free pregnancy testing, adoption assistance and is set to offer ultrasounds in the near future. Maternity clothes, diapers and other parenting necessities are donated to the center and are available for those who need them.

Jacquie Markowski, who works in client services, said the center encourages the pregnant women it serves.

“Some of the clients we see don’t have a support system,” Markowski said. “They don’t have parents or friends or someone who really understands what they’re going through at that time.”

Anderson said a lot of the conversations they have at the center might be uncomfortable for a young woman to have with a friend or even a family member.

“We’re a safe place,” she said. “We’re confidential. It’s not going anywhere else, and we talk openly about it every day. It’s part of what we do here, so it’s very easy for them to ask the questions they need to ask or get the support they need.”

Support is not only offered during the decision-making period. If a woman chooses to have an abortion, post-abortion education and counseling are provided to both men and women. Markowski said that an abortion not only affects the woman who received it, but everyone around her, including her boyfriend or husband.

“We run (into) small groups of men and women who have had an abortion and have now come on the other side of it knowing that something happened,” Markowski said. “There’s life before abortion, and life has somehow changed after abortion. A lot of the symptoms after abortion are very similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

The facilitators for the counseling have also gone through an abortion. Anderson and Markowski said that the facilitators understand what the client is going through because they’ve gone through it themselves.

If a client chooses to carry her baby to term, the Pregnancy Resource Center provides assistance in parenting needs. Cribs, formula, diapers, baby clothes, maternity clothes and other items are given to clients who need assistance. Community members donate items. Volunteers then sort the items into categories, such as age groups. Clients can receive parenting support free of charge for as long as they need to.

“We do not have any time limits on support whatsoever,” Anderson said. “Our doors and arms are always open.”

Parenting and abortion aren’t the only choices a woman has. The Pregnancy Resource Center also promotes adoption.

“Most people turn away from (adoption) out of ignorance because they don’t know what adoption has to offer today,” Markowski said.

She said that a woman chooses a pathway through the adoption plan and can change her mind anytime through her pregnancy, even after the baby is born.

“We don’t provide who they’re going to go through an adoption with,” Anderson said. “We always give three or more referrals. We want them to make that choice for themselves, but we’ll be here to assist.”

Anderson said the center provides support for clients no matter the situation.

“We’re the place that’s going to offer that unconditional safety net to allow that girl to fall if she needs to fall and help her pick back up and be able to go out and have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

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