When asked if he had noticed an increase in women seeking services from Good Shepherd in light of there being one remaining abortion clinic in the state, Meehan said that they have noticed an increase, but that they are unsure whether it is directly connected to the closing abortion clinics.
According to data from 2005 from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice organization, the top three reasons that women seek abortions are: having a child would interfere with education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%).
Knowing these statistics, Meehand said that it is Good Shepherd's goal to help women remove as many of these obstacles as possible so that they can keep their babies.
"We are about removing perceived obstacles," he said, "which typically isn't a baby. It's a violent relationship, it's pending homelessness, it's deep and desperate poverty, it's a perception that this is impossible, I'm just not going to be able to do it, the baby would be better off not being brought into the world."
In recent years, Meehan said, Good Shepherd has done even more work to "get the word out" about their services so that women know what resources are available to them.
"The message is that the Church wants to control women, the Church doesn't care about women, the Church only cares about women until they're born and then couldn't care less," Meehan said. Those messages are easily proved false, he said, "if anybody bothered to look a smidge more deeply."
And it's not just the Catholic Church, or even religious organizations, that are providing life-affirming help to women and children in the St. Louis area.
Birthright of St. Louis is a secular non-profit that does not accept state or federal government funding. The goal of the agency is to provide women with the care and support that they need to be able to handle unexpected pregnancies, and to offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion.
"We just focus on the woman one-on-one," Maureen Zink, the executive director of Birthright in St. Louis, told CNA.
"Our focus is that you have to be a quiet place where women can come where they don't feel like you have an agenda and just talk about why this pregnancy is so hard for them," she said.
Birthright provides a variety of services to women free of charge, Zink said, including professional counseling, pregnancy testing, and financial aid and scholarships for women who are still in school.
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They also have a program called Melissa Smiles, which supports mothers whose children are disabled and connects them to the resources that they need, she said.
"Pretty much anything a woman needs, we'll work with her," Zink said. "We love to be able to take care of the women, so that they can take care of their babies. The goal is that they'll be able to provide a loving, safe, and nurturing healthy home for their babies."
Every service provided by Birthright is free, Zink said, but women do not necessarily have to demonstrate a financial need to seek out help from the agency.
"There's college women that find out that they're pregnant and they're overwhelmed and they need help sorting it out," Zink said.
Zink said that she has not noticed an uptick in women seeking services from Birthright in light of the closure of all but one abortion clinic; things have remained "pretty steady."
"I think our services will always be needed no matter what the laws are," she added.