By Christopher Bell
Looking into the soft brown eyes of a young girl who had seemed destined not to live made me shudder for a moment. Shudder for how easily this nation has allowed so many, many beautiful girls and handsome boys to literally miss seeing the light of day.
This young woman was alive only because of “that priest,” as her mother called him. The mother was walking into a Queens abortion mill when she met Msgr. Philip J. Reilly, the founder and executive director of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. Hour after hour, day after day, for decades, Msgr. Reilly was on the sidewalk, praying and also talking with women headed into the facility for an abortion.
More than one woman has come to Good Counsel — a group of residences for moms and babies on Staten Island and in the Bronx, as well as Spring Valley, N.Y., and New Jersey — saying, “That priest talked to me and told me to call you.”
Ever since abortion received government protection in New York state, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, pro-life New Yorkers have been offering help to women in crisis pregnancies.
From private homes to storefronts, through maternity homes, foundling services, and many other creative approaches, the pro-life community has sought out ways to offer help and hope to any woman in a crisis pregnancy.
Today, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a woman may safely “abandon her infant child” in an appropriate “safe location and immediately notify an appropriate person” that she is leaving the child. Good Counsel homes, like a police station or hospital, are such “Safe Havens.”
No pregnant woman needs to take the life of her child for any reason.
I started Good Counsel homes, in part, because I saw too many homeless pregnant women, and women caring for their babies, while I was working in a Manhattan shelter. The long story short: I believed God wanted me to establish a home to give mothers and their children a better start by helping them get back to school and find work. With the help of my Franciscan spiritual director, Father Benedict J. Groeschel, we opened our first home in Hoboken, N.J., in 1985. The first mom to walk in was from Bay Ridge.
More than 8,000 women and children have walked into a Good Counsel home since then. Tens of thousands of women have been given guidance via Good Counsel’s national helpline and the online resources at GoodCounselHomes.org.
Since Roe v. Wade, more than 63 million babies in the United States have not seen the light of day. Every single child aborted is as unique as every person alive. Many years after my first realization of the need, the shudder comes back to me with this thought.
I work and pray every day that this great country becomes more life-giving and hope-filled so that all conceived children will see the light of love. We all can work and pray together so seeds of hope, which God is always planting, will continue to yield miracles that save and transform lives.
Christopher Bell is the co-founder and president of Good Counsel, homes for women and children before and after birth.