A Conformed Culture 

by Allie Brown

“Abortion is the conscious decision to terminate a pregnancy. A decision usually made out of guilt, fear, shame and often – selfishness,” says Michele Cheresnick, the Client Services Director at Choices Pregnancy Center. She has been working at Choices for three years now and is the head encourager and cheerleader for everyone at the non-profit organization. Nationwide, abortion has become an option for women who are pregnant. There are options for terminating a pregnancy by either taking two pills or having a medical procedure. An in-clinic medical procedure consists of a doctor or nurse using medical tools and suction to remove the baby from the woman's body. The other option, taking the pills, consists of taking mifepristone and misoprostol. The first pill, mifepristone, stops a certain hormone from being produced that is there to help the baby grow properly; since the hormone is stopped, it in turn stunts the baby’s growth. Next, the woman takes misoprostol; this pill causes the woman to have cramps that result in bleeding and the emptying of her uterus. This is compared to having a miscarriage. 

Choices Pregnancy center helps women who are thinking of doing one of these options or women who have done either option above. Cheresnick explains that 94% of women who come to Choices are abortion minded or abortion vulnerable and that each woman is 76% more likely to choose life if the man in her life says yes to the baby. She says that an abortions is “a decision made, very often without knowledge of when life begins, and made without an understanding of the value of life.” A lot of the time, the man and woman in this situation are not on the same page. One will have wanted to choose life and the other will have wanted to get rid of the baby, but Choices is there to help this process of choosing along. 

Overall, Choices focuses not only on the woman, but also on the man. The first step for each person is called Options

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Michele Cheresnick, the Client Services Director at Choices Pregnancy Center

Counseling; this is where both the man and the woman go into a private room on their own to talk to a highly trained volunteer. Each little room is located off of a white hallway with light brown, wooden floors and are filled with comfortable couches and chairs. Each room is clean, pretty, and inviting. These counseling spaces allow for each person to talk about what they are thinking for their baby without the pressure of another’s wants or thoughts and at the same time feel comfortable. The second step is having an Ultrasound. This allows the parents to have a visual of the life that is in the woman’s body. 

Cheresnick is also someone who can relate to many of these women. She has had an abortion herself, and she knows firsthand the experience and the feelings that come as a result. Cheresnick states, “If you don’t value yourself, how can you understand the value of another. And if you create life with someone you don’t value – Is what you created of value?” She mentioned that she had an abortion while she was in college and she explained that 10% of girls on a college campus are pregnant, but most of the time no one knows because they have abortions. A large amount of women drop out of college after having an abortion; they cannot focus on school and end up dragging around emotions of shame, guilt, sadness, etc. She said that is what happened to her. 

For women who have abortions, the age group ranges from around 15 years to 44 years, but this can vary some as well. The most prominent age group to have abortions is ages 20 to 24 years. In 2018, women in the twenties age range summed up to have had 57.7% of the abortions in the U.S., and 92.2% of all abortions in 2018 took place before or during the thirteen week mark of their pregnancy. 6.9% of abortions took place in the 14 to 20 week range and less than 1.0% took place after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Additionally, the Choices non-profit organization, Cheresnick mentions, focuses on ministry. They are there to tell these women, and men, the truth and they give it to them completely. She said that the women that come to their organization just want to feel loved and this is where God enters their situation. As mentioned before, 94% of women are abortion minded when they come into the Choices office, but 88% of them choose life after going through the program. When women who are post-abortive come to Choices for help, they are able to have counseling in the middle, secluded part of the building. This assures that they are away from the pregnant women and away from the women who have chosen life and had their baby. This gives them an opportunity to be comfortable to talk about their feelings away from any reminders of what they had before abortion or what could of been if they had chosen life. Cheresnick discussed that women who have abortions carry around their decision for the rest of their lives; it is not something that disappears once it is done.  “There have been over 62 million abortions since abortion became legal in 1973” and “of all the abortions performed approximately 39% are on Caucasian women, 34% on African American women, 20% on Hispanic women,” explains Cheresnick. 

The Choices building itself is planned strategically for the needs of the women and men that come for guidance and help. There are three entrances: one for Medical Services, Family Services, and also for the front entrance in the middle of the building. The Medical Services is for women who are pregnant and coming for either Options Counseling, an UltraSound appointment, or testing for STIs or just a simple pregnancy test. Choices offers STI testing and pregnancy tests for free. For women who come after being subject to trafficking, sometimes their perpetrator is sitting in the lobby. As a result, there is a strategic door for them to escape.  Post-abortive help and counseling is located in the middle of the facility; women can come in quietly for counseling around the corner. Cheresnick mentioned that she received post-abortive healing after becoming a Christian. This is parallel to what Choices offers women: the truth that is found in Christ. 

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Family Services is for women and men who come to take classes and earn baby bucks in order to go shopping for their baby. The store that is in the facility is set up like an inviting and quaint baby store; it is filled with clothes, toys, cribs, food, etc. The little store is surrounded by classrooms where parents can come and take classes that range from building a crib to budgeting to hearing a baby cry. Choices help women and men to set goals, and they also set parents up with agencies that can help them find better housing and also have the opportunity to go to college. 

As Cheresnick is working at Choices, she also pastors a church with her husband called Mission Bridge around this area, and she has three children. Before she worked at Choices, she was an accountant for 25 years. 

Overall, Cheresnick and Choices Pregnancy Center are here to help parents who are struggling with the choice of keeping their baby, who need post-abortive healing, or women and men who need help on the way to having their baby. Ministry is their focus and they offer the truth about the Lord and about abortion. Choices help women and men everyday to choose life over death. 

Choices Pregnancy Center offers local expecting parents a place to spend "baby bucks," awarded for attending classes at the organization.