By Monica Walton
FLOWOOD – Birthright of Jackson has added a new option to connect young men and women to free, non-judgemental and confidential help with an unplanned pregnancy – texting. Birthright offers guidance toward lifegiving options, so the expectant mother can make the best decision for herself and her unborn child.
Anyone can text BRJXN to 41411 and get an immediate response from a Birthright of Jackson volunteer. Birthright has been helping girls and women across the state of Mississippi since 1983, before personal mobile phones were even a thing. “We felt we needed to update the way we make ourselves available to potential clients,” said Dennis Riecke, Birthright of Jackson board president. “One of our board members suggested a texting program since that is an easy and discreet way for a young woman to reach out for help. We all agreed,” he added.
“Texting is something common to most girls in their teens and twenties which is the typical age of our Birthright clients.” Most Birthright clients have a cell phone, even those without a car or a place to live. There are more cell phones than people in the U.S. People stay connected. For a good percentage of the population, a cell phone is the only phone they own.
There is much research supporting this. According to Pew Research Center, texting is the number one way all teens get in touch with their closest friends, and 80% of people older than 65 own a cell phone and send an average of ten texts a day. (Aug 2015) In May, 2017, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reported in their National Health Information Survey NHIS, “Adults living in poverty (66.3%) and near poverty (59.0%) were more likely than higher income adults (48.5%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones [cell phones].”
Birthright volunteers noticed that people text so much, it’s no big deal when the person sitting next to you pulls out their phone to send or read a text. Others scarcely notice, and discretion is vital to the work of Birthright.
Imagine this…17-year-old Gabrielle missed her period and she is worried that she might be pregnant. She’s thinking to herself: “How can this be? It was just one night. We went a little too far. Who hasn’t done that once or twice? Surely I’m not…
What can I do? I can’t be seen buying a pregnancy test. I can’t risk taking the test at home.” Gabrielle certainly does not want to make an actual phone call asking for help. Someone might hear her say she needs a pregnancy test. She can’t even bring herself to think the word “pregnant,” much let say it out loud.
So, rather than having to speak the words, “I think I might be pregnant,” a simple text – BRJXN – to this number – 41411 – will get Gabrielle help, answers and guidance to navigate this time of uncertainty. It is available to anyone, any time.
Gabrielle texts BRJXN to 41411. A reply comes immediately, “Hey there! Text or call me at 601- 421-1818 so we can set up a time to chat and get the info you need! — BRJXN” She breathes a sigh of relief. Help is a quick text away. When she is ready, Birthright is ready. She knows someone cares and Birthright is waiting and willing to help. Simple. Discreet.
Gabrielle, and anyone else who is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, has a direct line to get the help she needs.
No counseling is done by text, but a local Birthright volunteer will be happy to chat on the phone or set up a time to meet at the Birthright Center. Birthright offers free pregnancy testing, emotional support, and all the resources a woman needs to follow through with her pregnancy.
(Monica Walton is the executive director of Birthright of Jackson.)
By Monica Walton