The ad says it all: “Aid to Women saved our lives.”  What a great thrill it is to look at the three babies pictures and know that they are alive and well today – know that they wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for Lifeline, a new pro-life organization.  Lifeline operates Aid to Women, a pregnancy crisis centre in Toronto committed to changing the thinking of abortion-minded women.

In operation only the past year from modestly appointed offices in downtown Toronto, Aid to Women has had considerable success in helping women face an unexpected pregnancy with loving concern, food and clothing when needed and financial aid – including rent money.  Women of all races and religions are welcome.

Jane (not her real name), who came from the east coast, and who had been living with her boyfriend, found herself deserted when she became pregnant.  She got a job as a domestic shortly after she arrived in Toronto.  She called Aid to Women with the idea of having an abortion.  But after being counseled and viewing a pro-life video, Jane decided to have her baby with on-going help from Aid to Women.  That’s a success story!  However, it happens on 40 per cent of the time.

Others don’t end so happily.  Many have been counseled (all counselors are registered nurses), have seen the videos and gone ahead with abortions.  One Toronto businessman was enraged when Aid to Women refused the bribe of a blank cheque to refer his mistress for an abortion.

That all volunteers are registered nurses is very important in dealing with medical problems that arise during pregnancy.  Volunteers often call pregnant girls in the evenings to see how they are managing, said Aid to Women Director, Richmond Cochrane.

“They are dealing with a matter of life and death,” He continued, “and they can’t shut off their concern at five o’clock.”

It is considered feasible, the women are shown videos pointing out the mental and physical hazards that result from an abortion.  The stress is always on a compassionate concern for the mother of the unborn child.

In one of the three pleasantly decorated counseling rooms, prior to the showing of any videos, the mother spends considerable time with a counselor discussing her problems.  Where the mother is considering an abortion, the counselor uses all her skills to change the thinking of the mother so that she will carry her baby to term.

Aid to Women addresses a sticky problem: When a woman is determined to abort, it is almost too late to talk her out of it.

Why do women seek abortions?  They feel lost and alone and there is no one to help them. They are embarrassed and afraid to trust the judgment of others.  Often they are poor and struggling with financial burdens.  And sometimes they have no place to go and feel they have been rejected because of the baby.  Circumstances of the baby’s conception – rape or incest, for example – make carrying the baby to term seem impossible.

Aid to Women tries to become a true friend – a sister – someone who can be called on with each new difficulty.  They do not judge, but they do want women to clearly see the evil of abortion.  Money has to be raised for their needs – jobs found and ways to educate them so that they can escape the trap of poverty.  They try to find warm-hearted people to house mother and baby.  Adoptions are arranged – even for sick or handicapped children.  (Some women elect to have an abortion because they are frightened that the baby will be sick or handicapped and they don’t think they can raise the child).

It is estimated that 75 per cent of Aid to Women clients come to them through the ad in the yellow pages.  The rest come through referrals.  This innocuous ad invites women who are pregnant – or think that they might be – to drop in where they can get all the information they need – everything except abortion information.

Aid to Women (called Aid for Women in the United States) was started in Deerfield, Illinois in 1977.  Its founder Tom Bresler, is a past grand knight and charter member of a Knights of Columbus council.

“After abortion was legalized 12 years ago,” he said at the time, “I couldn’t believe that women would accept killing their unborn babies.  When pre-born babies are slaughtered – painfully slaughtered – I can’t not do something about this.  I can’t.”

Bresler’s wife, Heather thought up the name.  She has worked along with her husband for the past 11 years.  In 1981 they opened up another office in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, a very busy area.  And in 1983, an ecumenical group was chartered in Waukegan, near the Wisconsin border.

Richmond Cochrane, after speaking to Tom Bresler on a number of occasions, agreed to visit Tom and his family and see their operation firsthand.

Toronto Aid to Women has no paid staff and receives no funding from any agencies.  At the present time it depends on donations from individuals and various Knights of Columbus councils in Ontario.  They need 60,000 dollars a year to keep their heads above water.  Visitors are welcome.

A grateful mother wrote them recently, saying in part:

“While I was feeding my darling daughter, I was inspired to write a letter of thanks to show my appreciation to you all for coming to my aid when you did.  Thanks be to God for choosing wonderful people like you to help others like myself to find hope when we’re in despair.

“To this I add a special blessing to each and every one of you at the centre, the founder, the family that opened the door of their hearts and home to me, my son, and unborn child when I was about to become homeless.”