Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be a scary experience. For those women who are young, alone, or unsure of what to do next, feelings of fear, pressure and confusion can take over.
Helping support hundreds of women in our region through these feelings is local charity Pregnancy Choice.
The volunteer non-profit organisation equips and supports women facing a crisis or troubled pregnancy. They do this by providing free pregnancy tests, counselling, educational classes, and practical support with baby clothes, equipment, and referrals to other organisations.
Their counselling service focuses on ensuring women get complete information on all their options whilst recognising women ultimately have the right to choose. The experienced counsellors provide a non-judgmental ear to listen and caring advice, either in person at their Support Centre, over the phone, or online chat.
Since its establishment in 2013, Pregnancy Choice has supported thousands of women.
Rob Kampen, Pregnancy Choice Administrator, says the work they do is filling a gap.
“We are here to ensure women have all the information and support around them so they can make a decision without undue pressure. We want to help them to make a choice they can live with and are comfortable with.
“There is nothing else like it in New Zealand. We are neither pro-life nor pro-choice – those are two very polarised positions. We keep out of the political debate; we are here to help. What we do is, provide a neutral space, let people step back and breath a bit and examine all the options, rather than just defaulting to abortion and then maybe living with regret thereafter.”
These options include adoption, and the customary Māori practice of whāngai whereby children are raised by someone other than the birth parents — usually a relative. Pregnancy Choice also lets women know if they have their baby, they are not alone and will be supported by the charity along the way.
Rob says they often have clients come through dealing with complex situations that require wrap-around support.
“We had one client on a study visa who could not afford to be pregnant, and because of her culture would be thrown out on the street if people knew. She was panicking, wanting an abortion and feeling suicidal. In the end, we helped relocate her out of the city and assisted her in adopting her baby out to loving parents, as in her heart, she did not want to have an abortion. It was a complex situation, and we see it a lot.”
To help fund their operations, Pregnancy Choice run the Graced Opp Shop on the corner of 11th Ave and Christopher St. It’s a unique opp shop unlike any other in the city, featuring a playroom, café, and vast selection of babywear, adult clothing and household items. Its warm, welcoming atmosphere is not only great for shoppers, but for those pregnant women hesitant about seeking support.
Another source of funding for the charity is long-time supporter TECT. The local trust has supported Pregnancy Choice since 2014 with $146,500 in funding, and this year, a further $25,000 TECT grant was approved to help the charity cover their operating costs.
Rob says it can be quite challenging to find support for those operational costs.
“Being supportive of paying operational costs is a huge help for us, as everybody wants to fund buildings and projects – because is something you can see, take a photo of and say I contributed to that.
“The funding we receive from TECT hits the ground right here, helping cover wages and rent. We were originally set up as a phone counselling service and would get a couple of calls a month, but now we get one or two people through a day. It’s a significant ramp-up of people we are able to help thanks to TECT funding. We really appreciate having TECT’s support; every dollar helps and allows us the flexibility to do some more.”