IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno
By Steve Larkin
(CNS) — When Chris Bell was working in Times Square in the late 1970s, he was
shocked to repeatedly see young mothers entering crisis shelters with their
children, and he decided that he had to do something.
the help of Father Benedict Groeschel, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the
Renewal, and his spiritual director at the time, Bell founded Good Counsel, a
network of pro-life maternity homes.
Good Counsel operates six homes — four in New York state, one in New Jersey
and one in Alabama — and works with other homes all over the country. It also is
looking to both grow and expand its network.
Counsel is one of the founding members of the National Maternity Housing
Coalition,” Bell told Catholic News Service. “Most of the homes are small and
limited in what they can do, but we can help find a place for any pregnant
woman in the country.”
said that any pregnant women can enter the maternity homes for free, and the
homes will help provide them with opportunities to go back to school and find
Counsel will even assist pregnant women with drug addictions or mental
illnesses and help find suitable places for them.
also can help plan adoptions. Bell said that many women don’t realize that they
can choose the couple who would adopt their child and fear that the child will
be placed in the foster care system.
said that many women who are told that their child will have genetic defects
can benefit from maternity homes.
don’t know why the only response so many medical people have is to tell the
mother to get rid of it if it looks like the child will have genetic defects,”
he said. “Especially in the United States, where we’re rich and have the
technology to help them.”
told the story of a woman whose doctor told her that her unborn son had a
defect in every cell in his body, and the doctor recommended she abort.
then called Good Counsel, saying “I just want to be a good mother.” Good
Counsel took her in, found a different medical facility for her, and prayed
with her because she wanted to pray.
the boy was born, the fears of the doctor were unfounded. He had a hole in his
heart, which required two surgeries, but by the time the mother left the home
her son looked like any other one-year-old.
also told another story of a mother who already had a 3-year-old when she
came to Good Counsel.
she told the father that she was pregnant, he kicked her in the stomach and she
her first few months, she had obtained a home health certificate, and, after
having the baby and staying with him for a few months, she found a job.
I think about where she was when she came to us and where she was when she
left, it was a total turnaround,” Bell said.
said he thought that media coverage was one reason for a lack of awareness
about maternity homes.
think the media has a strong bias against anything anti-abortion,” he said.
that, he intends on continuing his work.
question I ask: Isn’t there enough love in the world for another baby? Where
there’s love, there’s life, and where there’s life, there’s hope. We can change
things by looking at one life at a time and one family at a time.”
Note: Information about the Good Counsel network of homes can be found by going to goodcounselhomes.org
or by calling (800) 723-8331.
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