Calendar November 13, 2018 15:02

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Beautiful Beginnings Helps Pregnant Women

 

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Real Alternatives
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A Pennsylvania-based pregnancy support organization, Real Alternatives has served thousands of women through its pregnancy resource centers. Real Alternatives recently named Catholic Social Services as its Pennsylvania Service Provider of the Year for the fifth consecutive year. The annual honor recognizes the group that has assisted the highest number of pregnant women in the state.

As part of its service to women with unplanned or crisis pregnancies, Catholic Social Services operates Beautiful Beginnings, a program that has brought mobile pregnancy support services to women in Philadelphia and nearby counties. The program also focuses on supporting those becoming parents for the first time.

Beautiful Beginnings provides these new parents with resources ranging from seminars and workshops on parenting to free diapers. Parents can also take advantage of the program’s counseling services and make connections with other parents through events such as Parent Cafes.

For more information about Beautiful Beginnings and other programs offered by Catholic Social Services to support new mothers and fathers, visit cssphiladelphia.org/prenatal-and-parenting-programs/.

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Calendar November 9, 2018 00:16

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Kevin Bagatta's Pro-Life Journey

Real Alternatives operates pregnancy support services at centers across Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, offering women the support and resources they need to choose life. Funded through several government programs, Real Alternatives has seen substantial decreases in abortion rates under the leadership of its president and CEO, Kevin Bagatta.

Born in Long Island, New York, Kevin Bagatta received an early introduction to the importance of choosing life. His handicap father and mother understood the ramifications of the Roe v. Wade court decision legalizing abortion, partly from seeing the results of the lack of appreciation for the sanctity of life in Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany disposed of lives, including the disabled, it deemed not worthy to live. His father had been exposed to Nazism firsthand while serving in the military during World War II.

After graduating from law school while living in Pennsylvania in the 1990s, Kevin Bagatta saw an advertisement for a job with a pro-life organization to direct a program funded by the government. He ended up taking the job, becoming a pioneer in the pro-life and women’s pregnancy support services movement. That led to the establishment of the organization Real Alternatives and his executive leadership of services funded by the Pennsylvania Alternative to Abortions Service Program.

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Calendar November 9, 2018 00:12

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Pennsylvania Alternatives to Abortion Provides Essential Support

 

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Real Alternatives provides options to women in unexpected pregnancies, along with support throughout the first year of their babies’ lives. In Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives has achieved a significant decrease in abortion rates through the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Program.

Created to provide women facing unplanned pregnancies with free life-affirming support services, Pennsylvania Alternatives to Abortion encompasses 89 centers throughout the state. These centers provide women with free pregnancy test kits, references to agencies that provide everything from food to medical care and financial assistance, counseling, classes on birth and parenting, and other services.

Most importantly, centers funded by the program offer support from people who care. A national poll indicated that over 80 percent of women who chose abortion would have made a different choice with support from even a single person. Experienced counselors at these pregnancy centers become that person for any woman who wants to choose life for her baby.

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Calendar November 8, 2018 23:55

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Real Alternatives Serves Women in Indiana


Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives provides women with pregnancy support, as well as a diverse range of reproductive health services, information about adoption, and parenting assistance. Several states, including Indiana, have entered into contracts with Real Alternatives to fund centers that provide these services.

In 2015, then-governor Mike Pence declared that Indiana would support Real Alternatives in establishing 16 women's health centers to provide counseling for issues ranging from emotional and physical abuse to breastfeeding and child care. The contract, which stipulated $2.25 million in funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, ensured that thousands of women would receive counseling and support throughout their pregnancies and for the first year of their children's lives.

Prior to the announcement of the contract, the organization had already completed a year-long trial program in the state. During that time, it assisted more than 8,400 individuals at a cost of only $1 million to the Indiana State Department of Health, helping those feeling hopeless to find healing and support.

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Calendar November 4, 2018 19:57

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Four Tips for Coping with An Unplanned Pregnancy

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Real Alternatives
Image: realalternatives.org

An unplanned pregnancy can lead to stress and uncertainty; you may feel overwhelmed by the decisions you need to make and worry about the future. Taking the time to find healthy ways to cope with these emotions can help to build up your confidence and prepare you for this major change in your life. Here are four tips for coping with an unplanned pregnancy.

1. Seek support. Support from friends and family members will make it easier to cope with your pregnancy. Surround yourself with positive people, and avoid those who judge or criticize. You may find it helpful to meet with other women who are also learning to cope with an unintended pregnancy. It is beneficial to have a support network.

2. Look for resources. Many organizations provide resources for pregnant women who need help in continuing their education, affording life necessities, and preparing for parenting. Consult local nonprofit pro-life groups or blogs devoted to providing resources and information on pre-natal care and parenting. Some government-sponsored programs also offer resources and information.

3. Stay positive. You may feel apprehensive and worry about your ability to parent. Focusing on positive thoughts can help combat these misgivings and ease the stress of uncertainty. For example, try to imagine the joy of watching your child grow up, or watching him or her experience life’s firsts.

4. Don’t give up on your dreams. Refrain from equating motherhood with giving up on your dreams for the future. It may take you longer to achieve those dreams. There are resources available to assist and support you in completing your education, obtaining employment, reaching your goals and finding your dreams.

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Calendar October 29, 2018 15:52

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Real Alternatives Offers Empathetic Care to Pregnant Women

Real Alternatives works with women experiencing crisis pregnancies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana. The nonprofit provides free counseling, adoption referrals, and other services, all delivered with empathy and without judgment, to provide women with options outside of abortion.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of research, in fields as diverse as neuroscience and social psychology, on the effects of empathy in professional-client relationships. Numerous studies have indicated the improvements in patient outcomes when doctors demonstrate empathy. For example, a 2014 article in the Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health stated that medical providers’ empathy toward patients resulted in greater trust and a better exchange of needed information.

The Association of American Medical Colleges has even listed the cultivation of empathy as a core portion of the professional curriculum it recommends for medical students. Social workers and those in other nonmedical helping professions also cite the ability to show empathy as an essential skill for constructive engagement with clients.

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Calendar October 29, 2018 15:26

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Babies in the Womb Respond to the Outside World


Since the 1990s, Pennsylvania-based Real Alternatives has served as a resource for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. The nonprofit, now a government social service partner provider in three states, offers free counseling sessions, referrals for adoption, and a full year of support for mothers who choose to raise their babies. Due to Real Alternatives’ compassionate, caring approach, women have learned that they are not alone as they struggle against pressures to abort their babies.

Research has shown the extraordinary responsiveness of unborn babies to outside stimuli, and even to their mothers’ moods. These developing human beings are far from passive inhabitants of the womb.

As soon as the eighth week after conception, a baby has developed a sense of touch. Ultrasounds have shown that by 11 weeks, many unborn babies have begun to explore their own worlds by putting a hand to their mouths, or even by “walking” up the inside of the amniotic sac.

Unborn babies also display definite reactions to their mothers’ movements, often turning over in the womb, or striking back with an arm, in response to a touch from outside.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that emotion-triggered chemicals released into a mother’s bloodstream are transmitted to her unborn baby. Ultrasounds have also shown that when their mothers laugh, babies in the womb may respond with enthusiastic bouncing movements, and when their mothers are sad, they tend to become more quiescent.

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Calendar October 29, 2018 15:21

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The Creation of Ultrasound Technology

 

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Dedicated to assisting women throughout Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana who are experiencing crisis pregnancies, Real Alternatives provides much-needed counseling, material support, and parenting education to its clients, free of charge. Real Alternatives additionally supplies information designed to educate the public about the medical risks of abortion, and about the scientific basis for a life-affirming point of view.

Ultrasound technology, invented more than half a century ago, has become more and more accurate at delineating the development of babies before birth. The technique uses high-frequency sound waves, harmlessly bounced back from the physical body of the unborn child, to create black-and-white images of their subject.

In Glasgow, Scotland, Tom Brown, Ian Donald, and John McVicar worked together to create the first clinical uses for ultrasound technology, which they debuted in 1956. Brown was an engineer, Donald an obstetrician, and McVicar a gynecological registrar. They grounded their technology in a previous system used to pinpoint flaws in the design of naval vessels. In fact, Donald gained his early observations on the capabilities of echo-sounding technologies from his experiences in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Donald and his coauthors published an article on their work in a 1958 issue of the journal The Lancet. “Investigation of Abdominal Masses by Pulsed Ultrasound” offered the first ultrasound images showing fetal development, and went on to achieve landmark status in the medical profession.

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Calendar October 22, 2018 14:03

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Helping Pregnant Women in Crisis through Real Alternatives

Real Alternatives maintains a range of local crisis pregnancy and counseling centers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana. To date, hundreds of thousands of women have benefited from the free services provided by Real Alternatives; in one recent year alone, some 25,000 women received these services. The nonprofit offers a number of ways for interested parties to contribute to its mission.

Making a tax-deductible donation helps Real Alternatives bring its program to other states. These new programs fund counseling sessions focused on abortion alternatives for women in crisis, support parenting education classes, as well as connections to adoption providers and social services. Donors should know that theses programs also provide housing, clothing, food, and other necessities for mother and child for up to a full year after a baby’s birth.

The nonprofit also encourages people to let friends and family know about its toll-free hotline, 1-888-LIFE-AID. Additionally, sharing the nonprofit’s “Miracle of Life” video, available at RealAlternatives.org, helps to educate the public about the neurological development and full humanity of babies before birth.

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Calendar October 22, 2018 13:57

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The Value of Compassionate Crisis Pregnancy Counseling

 

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As a partner to government social service agencies in three Midwestern states, Pennsylvania-based Real Alternatives provides women with free, nonjudgmental counseling, referrals, and information on alternatives to abortion. The nonprofit works from a core value of compassion for every woman who seeks its services. Its toll-free number, 1-888-LIFE-AID, connects women experiencing crisis pregnancies with trained counselors who have either undergone crisis pregnancies themselves or assisted others in the same circumstances.

Experts in the field of counseling note that emotional intelligence – and the empathy and compassion that tend to come with it – is an essential trait for any counselor to develop. Counselors who demonstrate compassion and empathy enable clients to tell their own stories, going the extra mile to share and affirm their feelings at every step along the way. The counselors’ responsiveness enables them to form a strong connection with their clients, who feel heard and respected. As a result, the counselors pave the way for the women to make decisions in their own best interests.

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Calendar October 22, 2018 13:46

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How Ultrasound Technology Has Transformed Discussions of Abortion


A nonprofit organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives has helped hundreds of thousands of women through a compassionate approach that makes it easier to choose life over abortion. Now an official partner with government social services agencies in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, Real Alternatives also offers extensive information on the development of babies in utero as a resource for women contemplating abortion.

Ultrasounds, now a staple of prenatal medical care, provide detailed views of the development of an unborn child. In fact, the precision of ultrasound technology played a significant role in increasing public support for the pro-life viewpoint, as it enabled a new generation to see that unborn babies possess the physical characteristics of full human beings. As such, science has transformed the public conversation about abortion.

For example, in its 1973 decision on abortion, the US Supreme Court relied on then-current medical thinking that an unborn child stood a chance of achieving viability outside the womb at 28 weeks. Today’s advances have moved that figure closer to only 22 weeks.

A range of recent surveys show the influence of ultrasound technology on the public’s views on abortion. One of these, produced by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, reported that almost 80 percent of women surveyed chose to have their babies after viewing an ultrasound photograph of their child in the womb.

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Calendar October 17, 2018 00:48

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Real Alternatives’ History of Offering Help and Hope

 

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Calendar October 17, 2018 00:21

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are on the Rise


Real Alternatives serves women in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan through a network of crisis pregnancy centers that provide free counseling, adoption information and referrals, and ongoing material support for the first year of a baby’s life. In addition, the nonprofit offers resources on sexual health, including how to identify and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. 

The number of people affected by sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, has risen in recent years. The National Institutes of Health has differentiated some two dozen STDs to date and estimates that they infect close to 20 million people annually.

Individuals of any age or social background can contract STDs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults between 15 and 24 years of age, as well as pregnant women, are among the groups most at risk for common STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Many women do not know they have contracted an STD, because they may remain symptom-free, yet the complications women experience are typically more severe than those experienced by men.

A major reason for the increase in the number of STD cases is that sexually active individuals today often have a greater number of partners over their lifetime. The CDC points out that the most effective means of avoiding STDs are abstention from sharing needles and abstention from sex outside of a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship.

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Calendar October 17, 2018 00:01

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Help in Saying No to Unwanted Sexual Experiences

Since 1996, Real Alternatives has sought to provide free, compassionate counseling and support to women going through crisis pregnancies. The organization offers a practical path to make it easier for women to choose life over abortion. In addition to its crisis pregnancy services, the organization supplies extensive information on making healthy lifestyle choices. Real Alternatives has dedicated a portion of its website to educating young people on how to deal with the pressure to become sexually active when they are not yet ready to do so.

Contrary to the messages found in much of today’s popular culture, not all teens are having sex. In 2007, slightly less than 50 percent of students in high school had had sexual intercourse. In 2017, that figure dropped to about 40 percent. These numbers are significantly lower than the 54 percent who reported having had sex in 1991. However, studies show that more than half of teenage boys and close to three-fourths of girls reported wishing they had waited longer before taking the serious step of having sex.

The counselors at Real Alternatives have provided a number of practice conversations that young people can have if they feel pressured to have sex. Find more tips on the organization’s website, RealAlternatives.org.

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