Pregnant? Alone? Scared? Require unconditional support? Birthright provides advocacy in a non-judgmental, compassionate, and active listening environment. It is a confidential crisis pregnancy service in Canada, which provides free counselling, resources and referrals to women seeking an alternative to abortion. Birthright’s objective: “It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth, the right of every child to be born.”
Birthright was founded in 1968 by Louise Summerhill, a Toronto housewife with seven children, and is apparently the first crisis pregnancy centre established in the world.
She was passionate about helping women carry their pregnancies to term, especially in response to Pierre Trudeau’s omnibus bill, federal legislation that partially legalized abortion in Canada. She was working with a group to halt this law as it weaved its way through Parliament. Soon, however, she realized more needed to be done. Thus, she met with a group of clergy, doctors, and laypeople to discuss the idea of a crisis pregnancy service available via telephone and walk-in. With $300 and a donated office, Birthright International opened it’s doors in Toronto on Oct. 15, 1968.
Louise Summerhill passed away in 1991, but not without gaining recognition and notoriety throughout the years. She was given numerous awards, including the Christian Culture Award from the University of Windsor and an honourary degree from St. Michael’s College University in Toronto. Since then, daughters Mary Berney, Louise R. Summerhill and Stephenie Summerhill Fox have continued their mother’s positive leadership by overseeing the international Birthright office in Toronto, to ensure crisis pregnancy services for women worldwide.
Today, Birthright chapters exist in major cities throughout Canada and the world. There are chapters around the globe, including 65 in Canada, 400 in the U.S., and others in South Africa, Columbia, South America and Hong Kong.
Birthright provides positive life advocacy by sending the message: “the woman can have her baby and her life too. We are here to help the woman have her baby”. As such, Birthright empowers the woman by offering services, resources and concrete assistance during a vulnerable time in her life.
Birthright provides a wide array of support, with services that include a 24/7 crisis hotline, counselling, education, pregnancy tests, prenatal information, parenting skills, transportation and maternity/baby clothes. Moreover, Birthright provides referrals to immigration, housing/shelter, educational institutions, legal services, and licensed adoption agencies. Birthright chapters in Canada are run by directors, regional consultants and approximately 5,000 pro-life volunteers. Birthright does not receive government funding, but instead relies exclusively on private donations. On average, 28,000 women per month visit Birthright centres worldwide.