“My personal conviction about the dignity of motherhood – without which I could not have summoned the courage to found Birthright – is based on scripture. It should, therefore, be meaningful to Protestant, Jew, and Catholic alike. In Isaiah 49:15, we read: ‘Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget,’ says the Lord, ‘I will never forget you.’ Again in Isaiah, 66:13, we read the Lord’s words: ‘As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you.’ When God likens his love for us with that of a mother for her child, we can surely see the dignity of motherhood.”
Louise Summerhill wrote those words in a foreword to a 1984 edition of her book The Story of Birthright (originally published in 1973). Today, Birthright International has chapters across the United States and Canada, plus chapters in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia.
People have asked me if I, personally, have experienced unwed motherhood since I seem to understand the girls so well. I have not had this experience, but I think I know what pain and suffering, heartbreak and despair are. I, too, know fears of the future, and many times I have come through a real crisis as to whether or not I am the person to continue directing Birthright. The demands of my family, my home, are many times in conflict with the needs of the girls, causing me great distress. As wonderful as the volunteers and clergy are in their support, of me, the final decision, whether or not to continue, must come from me, and many times I quail inwardly as the future looms dark and fearful.
Then, suddenly, clearly, I am able to see that God is asking of me, not just faith in His word, but a readiness to trust myself to Him. Always, once again the pathway opens up for me as I read Psalm 90: “You shall not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that roams in the darkness, nor the devastating plague at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, near you it shall not come.”
With God’s help, once again, I am able to continue.