Emily Berning and her husband unwittingly started their business journey when they donated the last $1,200 in their bank account to a pregnant mom who was planning to have an abortion.
Berning, who is now president of a crowdfunding organization Let Them Live, told The Epoch Times’ Crossroads program on Feb. 25 that one of the most common reasons for women to have an abortion in the U.S. is financial hardship or poverty.
“We’ve found that 73 percent of women have abortions because of financial reason[s], which is a huge chunk,” Berning said. “So we realized those abortions are 100 percent preventable.”
A 2016 study by the Guttmacher Institute supports Berning’s claims that 75 percent of all abortions in the United States are the result of financial hardship facing the mother.
“The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the economic impact unplanned childbearing would have on themselves and their families. Most abortion patients say that they cannot afford a child or another child, and most say that having a baby would interfere with their work, school, or ability to care for their other children,” the study said.
Berning explained that realising a huge number of abortions occurred as a direct result of something preventable made her see an opportunity to help give these women a choice. This led her and her husband to set up an organization that crowdfunds financial aid for expectant mothers.
“And so really, that’s where we come in with the financial support for women that are facing that abortion decision, so they don’t have to make that choice, so that they can be a mother and take care of their finances, and make sure that they are stable and can take care of their family,” she said.
“We know that if we can crowdfund and we can put these stories out there that people will want to participate in saving lives from abortion. And so when somebody donates to Let Them Live, you know that you’re saving a life from abortion, and you are going to see a child born because of your donation.”
Berning noted that in shifting the focus of pro-life efforts to the mother, her organisation has found that many women choose to have their child instead of feeling trapped to choose the medical procedure.
“We wanted to make sure that women don’t feel like they need to choose between, you know, making their rent or paying their car payment and their unborn child’s life,” Berning said.
Berning noted that the organisation’s pro-women stance has also meant that many of those who have received assistance feel differently after they have come through a difficult time in their lives.
“We’re trying to tell women … you are capable of doing this, you are strong enough to do this,” she said. “And that’s why I think this entire idea of abortion is so anti-woman and anti-feminism because women can do it. They are capable, they are strong. They don’t have to make an abortion decision simply because of their circumstances.
“Circumstances are so temporary, and abortion is so permanent.”
Berning’s approach has met with support from both pro-choice and pro-life activists, with Let Them Live becoming a bridge between the two sides.
“In the last year, we’ve grown a lot,” she said. “We’ve also grown in pro-choice supporters and donors. So we have people that are so-called pro-choice that support abortion but they support us because they see that it’s another choice,” she said. “I do think that we have a unique opportunity to kind of stop the crazy noise around the conversation of abortion, and put that aside so that we can all band together and help that woman that is facing that decision.”
Let Them Live offers crowdfunded money to individual moms who find themselves without the financial support to progress with their pregnancy. Berning said the organization offers rent, car, groceries, and bill payments. They also have initiatives that offer help with education and financial counseling.
“So many women are abandoned by their boyfriends or their husbands and nobody around them is able to help them and they just feel completely alone. We have an entire staff of pregnancy counselors that are dedicated to 24/7 support of our moms, so that women in these situations know that they are not alone even though everybody in their life has abandoned them,” she told Crossroads.