Women’s Support Centers Are Making a
Our Women’s Support Centers (WSCs) are making
a tremendous difference in the lives of Russian women who are
seeking an alternative to abortion. Today, we have seven centers
that offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, prenatal
care, vitamins, and help with hospital costs to needy women who
are pregnant. Since 1998—the year we opened our first center—we
have assisted more than 10,000 pregnant women who have come to us
Some Historical Background
In 1920, Russia became the first nation in
the world to legalize abortion. The law presented women with the
opportunity to legally end a pregnancy at a state hospital at no
cost. It remained in effect until 1936, when Stalin outlawed
abortions in an effort to increase the number of Russian workers
and soldiers. Illegal abortions then became the norm until 1955,
when the law was overturned. The new reasoning was that legalized
abortion was necessary to “prevent the carnage of illegal
abortions and to help keep women in the labor force.”
Fr. Dan Maurer with an employee of the Owatonna, MN, Medical
Clinic (left) and Sandra Sonnen of the mission society. The
clinic was the first to donate an ultrasound machine to our
Women’s Support Centers.
||Induced abortion continues to this day as the
primary method of family planning in Russia. Estimates vary, but
most experts agree that the average woman will have between 5 and
12 abortions in her lifetime.
Many women openly admit to having 25 or
more. In truth, the numbers are difficult to pin down, as some
abortionists report not that they are performing the procedure,
but that they are conducting surgery to “regulate the menstrual
cycle.” Others, who operate private clinics, will not report all
the abortions they perform in an effort to reduce their stated
income and the income taxes they must pay.
From the time of their arrival in
Vladivostok, Russia, in 1992, Frs. Myron Effing and Daniel Maurer
knew that pro-life concerns would be among their highest
priorities. That year, they translated and published the booklet
“The Early Church Fathers and Abortion” from the American Life
League. Since then, they have published a variety of
Russian-language materials on fetal development; have arranged for
training of pro-life counselors; and have established the Women’s
Support Centers to provide prenatal care, counseling, and
assistance to women seeking help. These Centers are the first
such facilities in the entire Russian Far East.
and his mother
Changing Minds and Hearts
While the workload is daunting, there is
evidence that hearts and minds are changing. The gynecologist
director of one Russian medical center states that only a few
years ago, fellow physicians scoffed at any suggestion that
abortions had moral repercussions.
Today, she says, several of her colleagues
will explain to their patients that the fetus “is not just a bit
of mucus, but a human being.”
In 2005, Vladivostok gynecologists held a
program called “Doctors Against Abortion” and refused to perform
the surgery for a day. Instead, they tried to dissuade their
patients from having abortions, using the example of our Women’s
Support Centers. Better still, one local gynecologist, after
reading our pro-life literature, surprised everyone with the
announcement that she had decided to stop performing abortions
How You Can Help
Much like similar centers in the U.S., our
centers rely heavily on the generosity of donors and volunteers.
Women who come to us usually have many needs and limited funds.
Thus, we are a long way from being self-supporting. The cost to
operate just one center for a year can run upwards of $9,300.
This includes staff salaries, phone and utilities, rent, pregnancy
tests, ultrasounds, and much, much more.
Read on for one of our success stories or
click here to donate.
The Babies Given by God
written and translated into English by Mrs. Olga Berdnikova, the leader of the second women's support center in
This message we'd like to share with you the joy of good results of
our work doing to safe the life of pre-born babies. Though the second
WSC [women’s support center] is too young (it had been opened last
year), this autumn we are celebrating birthdays of the first babies
save by support of volunteers-counselors serve here, in this center.
Now we'd like to tell you the brief stories of the first babies'
One day of February, Irina, young lady came to our center. She knew
about her pregnancy but she would like to share this problem with
someone else. Unfortunately her boyfriend was on sail and she had no
ability to talk him about her pregnancy. As for the girl's mother she
suggested Irina to do abortion. She told to her daughter that the
abortion was the only way to solve her problem as Irina was not
We remember the first Irina's visit to the center--she was really
depressed and frightened--and her first words: "Please, help me I
don't know what to do. My boyfriend is not here, but my mom force me
to do abortion! Furthermore I don't know how he would take the knews
about my pregnancy." During the talking with the girl we'd found out
that only Irina's youngest sister was glad to accept the baby. Her
sister had even shared the good knews with her girlfriends at school
and told them she would be an aunt soon. We'd calmed down Irina, told
her about growing pre-born baby, and suggested to send express-message
to her boyfriend.
Bogdan and his mother, Irina.
|Two weeks later Irina had finally got his response on her message!
Arthur, Irina's boyfriend, was really happy to learn he would be a
father soon and asked her didn't do abortion.
For all her pregnancy we tried to be beside girl as her mother (and
also prospective grandmother) wasn't still accepting her pre-born
grandson. WSC counselor responsible for the girl came for several
times to girl's home to talk Irina's mother asking her do not disturb
Irina any more. It took the counselor two long months to convince
prospective grandmother to accept the baby.
One summer Irina had been sent for sonography. But sonographer and
Irina's attending gynaecologist, as they had found any deformation in
her growing pre-born baby, told her bad things about her baby and
suggested her to do abortion.
We told the girl didn't listen to those
doctors and their words regarding her child as at the time when we
were pregnant our attending doctors told us the same terrible things
about our baby who, in spite of all difficulties were born lovely and
healthy. We also refer the girl to another sonographer.
Soon, late of summer, Arthur came back to Vladivostok. Considering
what the attending gynaecologist said about their baby and our
referral they decided to do sonography again. But new sonographer
didn't see any deformation in their baby!
One month later, September, 18, they became father and mother! On
this happy day there was born a son, named Bogdan. On October Arthur
and Irina got married.
Now Arthur's and Irina's mothers appreciate us for the great work
we are doing to save the life of pre-born babies. Both of them say to
us that they can not imagine now their life without beloved Bogdan.
Next story is about the birth of baby-girl. Natasha, 21 years old
girl, came to our center in early spring seeking for help and
condolence. Her boyfriend left her as soon as he knew about her
pregnancy. Fortunately the girl's mother as religious woman, who also
went through the same situation at her early age and did abortion,
asked the daughter to keep the life of baby. Natasha lives together
with her mother and youngest brother in very small 1-room apartment.
This is very poor low-income family: Natasha and her mother work as
cleaning women at local factory. Natasha's brother is a schoolboy.
When he was 10 their parents were divorced. We tried to take care of
the girl for all her pregnancy buying medicines and vitamins needed
for her, preparing everything for the baby (baby-carriage, baby
One day of October she came to us with a good news smiling: soon
she would become the mother of baby-girl! And she added that she's
going to name the girl Katherine in memory of her beloved grandmother.
It goes without saying all of us were waiting for Katherine's birth
very much. And soon the time has come! On October, 25, Natasha's
mother called me to Caritas office to tell me about her newborn
granddaughter (weight - 3,300 g; height - 55 sm). She is so lovely!
On this remarkable day we visited Natasha at Maternity Hospital #5
and presented wonderful baby dress to her newborn Katherine. But we
were pleasantly suprized to meet Natasha's father there--he'd also
come to see his granddaughter. Who knows may be Katherine's birthday
would become the first step to unite their family? We are praying for
the babies, their families and all pre-born babies of Russia. Happy
birthdays to you, Bogdan and Katherine!
To help us assist more mothers and to protect and save more
babies, click here.