60% Abortion Drop in Texas? Now Is the Time for Walking With Moms in Need
Working to take the crisis out of pregnancy, this new parish-driven pro-life ministry is a lifeline for new moms and babies.
As reports surfaced last week of a 60% abortion drop in the state of Texas with the Texas Heartbeat Act now in-effect, the urgency for Catholics to care for mothers who are choosing life has grown exponentially. The Lonestar state performed 5,404 in August with the number dropping to just 2,197 in September with the passage of the six-week abortion ban.
As so many states are moving to advance pro-life legislation and others attempting to codify Roe v. Wade into state law with the pending Dobbs decision, it’s a critical time for the pro-life community including the important work of Walking With Moms in Need.
Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications for the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, spoke to the Register about this new pro-life ministry. She pointed out that it's a pivotal moment for this pastoral initiative.
“It’s also important that, as some states implement aggressive abortion legislation in anticipation of the outcome of Dobbs, we have abundant, comprehensive pregnancy-care resources available to help women choose life with confidence, Talalas explained, adding: “We also have to effectively market and communicate these resources, so that women in those states are aware of meaningful alternatives to abortion. Walking With Moms helps parishes do both!”
The new ministry’s creation came as an answer to several states advancing extreme pro-abortion legislation in 2019, the year One World Trade Tower in Manhattan was adorned in pink lights as then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated the Reproductive Rights Act, allowing abortion up to the very moment of birth. “Our team was praying about how to help the bishops in these different states,” Talalas said. “We also wanted to do something to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II’s landmark encyclical, which talked about creating a culture of life. We prayed a novena to the Holy Innocents, and this was the result.”
Walking With Moms in Need invites all concerned to empathize with pregnant mothers who don’t know where to turn.
“If I was alone, pregnant, without money or friends, what would I need? To get what I need, where would I go? Would I know how to find it? Would I come to the Church, or would I feel scared, afraid I would be rejected?” Talalas mused. “Walking With Moms invites parishes to enter in to the hearts of the most vulnerable women in our communities and to see through their eyes. Ultimately, it invites all women in need to come to the Church for help and to be embraced as our sisters.”
The parish-based ministry works to connect pro-life resources already readily available to vulnerable mothers and streamline the process of disseminating this information. Too often, resources and opportunities are never thoroughly explored or exhausted. And regardless of where laws stand, the Catholic call to caring for the most vulnerable can never be forgotten or ignored. As Talalas told the Register:
“No matter what any court or legislature decides, we must do all we can to create a culture that respects women and every unborn human life. We do this by strengthening marriage and family life and also in seeking to serve and understand women who may be vulnerable to abortion. Through the expansive social ministries of the Church, we do a lot to help mothers in need, but there are tremendous opportunities on the local and parish level to reach out to women who are pregnant and to provide them with the support to choose life.”
Launching Walking With Moms in Need in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic did create some real challenges, but it also shed light on many needs mothers face that are often overlooked. “Little did we know how much the world would change that month,” Talalas said. “Blessedly, the timeline of parish phases and activities was always designed to be adaptable. Most dioceses initially delayed or modified the timeline, and many are launching now.”
In spearheading this new pro-life ministry for the USCCB, Talalas brings an impressive background to carry out this important mission. With a long history of working with pro-life groups, coupled with a strong legal background, she understands the urgency of Walking With Moms in Need, given the Supreme Court’s looming decision over Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
“My greatest hope is that every Catholic parish will embrace the Walking With Moms in Need process, so that any mother in need can walk in to any Catholic parish and be embraced with love and concrete help. This will be all the more important if the Dobbs case does overturn Roe v. Wade, and states have the ability to create pro-life protections that in turn happily result in more mothers bringing their children to term. These mothers will need our help, and the Church needs to ‘walk the talk’ now more than ever.”
Several dioceses are already launching this new ministry including the state of Texas. Talalas pointed to the dioceses of Dallas, Fort Worth and Galveston-Houston, applauding their efforts on the ground.
Parishes located in Southern California in the Diocese of Orange have also been integrating the mission of Walking With Moms in Need and seeing many fruits of their labor. Atlanta is also very active in the pastoral initiative.
Because this ministry relies on parishioners partnering with their own local pro-life community, there are unique opportunities to make it one’s own and respond to the real and unique challenges that many moms-to-be are facing in specific regions. Talalas spoke of how one parish created a lifeline for new moms in the community by creating a strong relationship with the local pro-life pregnancy center.
“They ultimately started a mentorship program where moms in need are ‘matched’ with mentors at their parish. These mentors are literally ‘walking with moms,’ offering spiritual and emotional support, as well as the practical and material support the pregnancy-care center offers. They say the interest in the mentorship, and its impact, has been awesome.”
Walking With Moms in Need is not about “reinventing the wheel,” Talalas told the Register, adding that it can be a great integration for parish groups already in action, such as local “Respect Life” ministries. It’s about “adopting a process that ultimately integrates the good that is already being done in pregnancy-care ministry with other parish and diocesan ministries,” Talalas elaborated. “It makes sure that pregnancy-care ministries are supported by the local Church for maximum effectiveness and communicated for maximum awareness.” For this reason, no funding is necessary for those interested in creating this ministry at one’s parish. All the online resources are offered for free.
“The process involves discerning more effective ways to communicate the help that is already available to women locally and, ultimately, also involving new parishioners in a whole-church response to fill the gaps of what is not available, Talalas explained. “Basically, Walking With Moms is a process that helps ensure pregnancy-care ministry is integrated into all aspects of parish life and community life.”
This new pro-life ministry is working to help all women — not just Catholic women — and children in need. It is a true Catholic response to take the “crisis” out of pregnancies — and providing the opportunity for women to embrace their own maternity.
As Talalas stated, “No one authentically loved and cherished women more than Jesus did. And no one loved Jesus quite like the women who were ‘the first at the Cradle and the last at the Cross,’ in the words of Dorothy Sayers. Catholic teaching expresses women’s incredible ‘feminine genius’ and unique capacity for spiritual receptivity, for love and for maternity. The Church advances this in word and in action.”