An audible gasp filled the room.
“We get about 30 placement requests a day, but we only have four beds.” The audience was stunned as Alexandrea Crutcher, Founder and CEO of The Lullaby House, painted a vivid picture of the teenage pregnancy landscape in the DFW area.
Every day, Alexandrea finds herself inundated with inquiries from social workers asking about available spaces at The Lullaby House, a maternity home located in south Dallas. The facility caters to girls aged 12 to 18 who not only face the challenges of teenage motherhood but are also part of the foster care system.
As a panelist at Council for Life’s spring neighborhood outreach, titled “A Future with Hope: Changing the Tragic Story of Unwanted Pregnancies and Abortions,” Alexandrea was joined by Dr. Steven Harris, a Partner at Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Dallas, and Lisa Freeman, the Executive Director of Thrive Women’s Clinic.
During the event, the panel of experts delved into the current state of unplanned pregnancies, with a particular emphasis on teenagers, and explored how the availability and use of chemical abortion pills are rapidly reshaping the reality of abortion practices.
The landscape of teenage pregnancy in the DFW area
Over the past three decades, teenage pregnancy rates have seen a consistent decline in the United States. Notably, there was a 20% decrease in teen birth rates from 1990 to 2000, followed by a 28% decrease from 2000 to 2010, and a substantial 55% decrease from 2010 to 2020 (source).
Despite this overall positive trend, Texas continues to rank among the top ten states with high rates of teenage births, and it faces a significant challenge with repeat teen pregnancies (source).
“Even though the teen pregnancy rate is declining, it’s not declining here in our backyard,” Alexandrea said. Dallas, specifically, remains the leading city in Texas for repeat births among teenagers.
Abortions in the post-Roe era
In some states like Texas where abortion is banned since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, pregnant women are still having abortions. They access surgical abortion services by traveling to states or even other countries where abortion is legal or obtain illegal chemical abortion pills online for an at-home, self-managed abortion without a physician’s care.
In recent years, the use of abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol has witnessed a significant surge. In 2020, chemical abortion pills accounted for 53% of all abortions, marking an increase from 44% in 2019 and 40% in 2018 (source).
Despite the challenges related to the availability of these pills, access to abortions for pregnant teenagers in low-income areas has become more feasible than ever before. “They used to have to go to a clinic, but a lot of them couldn’t because they didn’t have access to transportation,” Alexandrea said. “But now the abortion pill can be ordered online with a fake ID.”
Dangers of the abortion pill
The safeguards that were once in place to protect women seeking abortions are no longer as stringent as before.
Today, pregnant women are not required to consult with a doctor, undergo a sonogram to determine the stage of their pregnancy, or obtain a prescription. Instead, they can access abortion pills through telehealth services, online orders, or even by purchasing them from other countries like Mexico. “As a physician, it blows me away that you can show a picture of a pregnancy test to someone online and they can send you medication,” Dr. Harris said.
Women can then take the pills at home, in dorm rooms, or in any other location without the supervision of a medical professional. Many women experience heavy bleeding and cramping that can be intense.
Although there is a recommended time limit of ten weeks gestation to take abortion pills, this limit is not enforced. Dr. Harris explains that if a woman takes the pills beyond the ten-week mark of her pregnancy, there is a possibility that the pills will not be effective. This situation can lead to an incomplete miscarriage, which poses a significant risk to the mother’s life.
The existence of this ten-week window has created a heightened sense of urgency among pregnant women seeking access to these pills.
Dr. Harris further explained that in the past, a pregnant woman in crisis who was considering an abortion had the opportunity to change her mind after seeing a sonogram showing a live human being with a heartbeat. “Now patients are coming in, wanting to move as quickly as they can to order something online,” he said.
Lisa shared a distressing anecdote during the discussion, highlighting the challenges faced by pregnant women seeking abortion pills. She recounted the story of a woman who turned to Thrive but ultimately decided to terminate her pregnancy. “One of our patients ordered abortion pills from overseas,” Lisa revealed. However, there was a delay in shipping, and the woman was rapidly approaching the 10-week mark of her pregnancy. “The women said, ‘I really hope I get them in time.’” The company shipping the pills ultimately sent the woman more pills in case the standard two pills were insufficient.
Alexandrea, reflecting on the situation, expressed her concerns about the unpredictable nature of teenagers and their tendency to change their minds. She posed a critical question: “What happens when they change their minds after taking the abortion pill?” This is especially troubling for many of these teenagers who come from impoverished backgrounds and lack adequate support. Alexandrea expressed her deep concern, stating, “They’ll be left in beds bleeding without any help.” The devastating impact of such circumstances on this vulnerable population of teenagers cannot be overstated.
A future with hope
In addition to providing shelter for teenage mothers in foster care, The Lullaby House takes an active role in offering community education programs.
Within poverty-stricken families and at-risk communities, there is a prevailing belief that having a baby can be seen as an economic advantage. Alexandrea explained, “Having a baby brings more ‘wealth’ as they see it. What that means is there’s more food stamps, more government assistance.” The Lullaby House plays a vital role in educating teenage parents about the true costs of raising a baby, as well as informing them about child support and parental rights.
One of the most crucial skills that many of the teen moms Alexandrea encounters need to learn is how to establish and maintain trusting relationships with adults. Often, girls in foster care have been removed from homes where they have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma. The primary goal of The Lullaby House is to help these girls delay subsequent pregnancies, stay in school, and develop trusting relationships with supportive adults. “We equip and empower them to not only live lives with hope but also to move towards self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty,” Alexandrea said.
“What’s it going to look like five years from now?” Dr. Harris proposed, contemplating what the future of abortions versus choosing life holds. He acknowledged the existing divisions and expressed his belief that change will happen gradually. “We’re still going to be so divided. I think God’s going to change this one person at a time, one situation at a time.”
We express our heartfelt gratitude to our esteemed panel of experts and to all who joined us at the inspiring event, “A Future of Hope.” Your presence and participation are invaluable in advocating for the voiceless—the innocent unborn, each of whom is uniquely created in the image of our cherished Creator.
Your unwavering commitment to being bold and brave in raising awareness and speaking up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves is commendable. Together, we strive to foster a future filled with hope, where every life is valued and protected.
Once again, we extend our deepest appreciation to all who contributed to the success of this neighborhood outreach event. Your support and dedication continue to make a significant difference in the lives of those most in need.
Special thanks to:
- Neighborhood Chairs, Carla Zeller and Shirley Churchill, who planned and executed all the details of the Neighborhood Outreach event with such grace and excellence.
- Ready and John Bateman for their kind assistance, opening and closing prayers, and for hosting us in their beautiful home.
If you feel compelled to support agencies like The Lullaby House and Thrive Women’s Clinic, please donate to Council for Life. By donating to Council for Life, you can directly contribute to life-affirming agencies that provide crucial support to women, men, and youth, empowering them to choose life over abortion.
Your generous donation will play a vital role in ensuring that these organizations can continue their essential work of offering assistance, resources, and compassionate care to individuals facing challenging circumstances. Together, we can build a brighter future and promote a culture that values and protects every precious life.