Becky’s story starts out like many: she was young and in school when she found out she was pregnant, and she assumed she was alone. But she wasn’t, and that made such a difference she’s now reaching out through the StandUpGirl.com website to tell other young, pregnant girls about hope.
“You’re not alone. There are many who are facing the same situation you are facing,” she told WND she tells the girls who contact her through the site, which features blogs, chat, advice, information and an assurance that every single one of the thousands and thousands of contacts gets an answer.
Becky’s unplanned pregnancy was “devastatingly frightening,” she told WND in a telephone interview from her home, where she now lives happily with her child and husband. “I didn’t have anywhere to turn.”
Her friends were partying, involved in their studies, and she felt “stuck in a whole different world.” She was “mortified” to go into the local crisis pregnancy center in her small town because the desk clerk “was a girl I’d been going to school with.”
But she was fortunate in that her boyfriend, now her husband, remained with her, and she was able to assemble a support network that provided her reassurances when she needed them. That’s what now she offers through the StandUpGirl.com website, a non-profit that is run on donations.
“By coming to this website, they can gain new friends, new knowledge, and learn a lot more about their options,” she said. “We network together. Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, you find your daughter is pregnant, or you’re deciding whether to adopt, other people are going through it too, and we can put you in touch, help you process what you’re going through.”
Gayle Atteberry, director for the seven-year-old web operation, said Becky was the original StandUpGirl, and continues to have her story featured on the website intended for those who may not feel inclined to pursue help at a website run by an overtly Christian organization.
But this site, answering questions such as, “When does a baby’s heart begin beating?” reaches into those audiences. It also has testimonials, photographs of newborns, 3D and 4D ultrasounds, information about fetal development, columns on being a teen mom, “Biology 101,” forums divided into “Girl Zone” and “Guy Zone,” and 24-hour crisis pregnancy and adoption telephone contacts.
There also are a few cautions, such as one regarding the morning-after abortifacient: “How would you feel if your doctor gave you a drug and said, ‘Here. This can cause hemorrhaging, infection, and possibly toxic shock. It’s not 100 percent safe, but don’t worry. Only ten women have died in the past few years. I’m sure you won’t be one of them.’ Would you feel safe? Would it be worth it? I might take this risk for a life-threatening illness, but pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness.”
Now there are five StandUpGirls, each one of them busy answering questions from the casual to the urgent, such as from any girl who states plans to have an abortion.
“We came together with a goal to reach girls who do not consider themselves pro-life. They may or may not be, they’ve never thought about it,” Atteberry told WND. “They never in a million years would think about going to a pro-life site.
“We wanted to reach them and appeal to them with the human feeling side of abortion. What does it really do to me? That’s exactly what they’re concerned about,”
She said the range of emotions for the girls is inclusive: frightened, perplexed, scared, wondering what to do, resentful, angry.
The website’s goal is provide hope and courage: “They need courage to do what their hearts want to do, hope for the fact that it could be possible,” Atteberry said.
She said most, even young girls who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, do want to have their babies, but societal’s messages for the last 20 years have emphasized heavily the abortion route.
“They feel cornered, pressured,” she said.
But when girls visit the StandUpGirl.com website – as about 250,000 people do each month, for time periods of up to 25 minutes – there are amazing results, she said.
“We have kids writing in, saying, ‘I never realized this about abortion. I didn’t know it affects a girl. I’m changing my mind on the abortion issue. I know things I never knew before…’” she said.
One surprising side effect has been that many girls also are writing in that after their Internet education, they are choosing abstinence.
“My favorite responses are the ones who actually change their minds from abortion to life after going to the site,” Atteberry said. “In January, six girls wrote us, and we know that’s an absolute tip of the iceberg. So we think hundreds of babies have been saved.”
The StandUpGirls are there to respond to initial inquires from girls, come alongside of them, quell their fears and give good, practical tips on how to handle various parts of the situation – how to tell a boyfriend, how to tell parents.
The girls, Atteberry said, often come in thinking they are abandoned. “They just don’t think they can have this baby,” she said.
The site has been so successful – it’s always in the Top 5 of web sites to do with abortion in the world – that the organization routinely lives from donation to donation.
“It’s expensive. We are spending a lot of money on keyword advertising [in search of those who need help,]” she said. “We’re always raising money here.” (Note: Scroll to bottom of left column for “Donation.” The group is set up for online donations through PayPal made out to StandUpGirl.com.)
“The biggest help in the entire world [for the young and pregnant] is to talk to the StandUpGirls and realize they are not alone,” Atteberry said.
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