As abortion businesses and elected officials across the nation attack Texas for a new pro-life state law, Sylvia Johnson-Matthews and the Houston Pregnancy Help Center are continuing their mission of serving women and saving children—now more than ever.
The recent fight
On September 1, the Texas Heartbeat Act officially took effect statewide. The act, approved by the state Legislature in May, makes it illegal in Texas to kill a baby in the womb once the child’s heartbeat is detected—though the law still does not protect a baby in the first few weeks of his or her life.
The act came after more than 53,000 babies were aborted in Texas in 2020 alone.
Since May, the Heartbeat Act has also sparked a wildfire of backlash, with pro-abortion businesses, media, and elected officials (including President Joe Biden and his administration) raging against the law and suing to halt it, though the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed the act to continue while the challenges are being litigated.
The Pregnancy Center’s response
Amid the national fight in the courts and media, Sylvia and her team are focused on helping more women and saving more children in their local neighborhoods. Sylvia is the executive director and CEO of the center, a place of “life affirming alternatives to Planned Parenthood,” where they provide women with free help and resources in their greatest time of need.
“That woman in crisis is our priority: the woman that’s in an unplanned pregnancy today, the woman who’s thinking about having an abortion today. That is our priority,” she told Texas Scorecard. “That is who we want to reach. That is why we exist.”
Sylvia said the center, started in 2004, has two physical locations as well as two mobile medical units in the Houston area. They’re strategically located in the urban communities, “the same minority urban neighborhoods the abortion industry targets,” with one location within walking distance of the largest freestanding Planned Parenthood abortion facility in the United States.
Since the Heartbeat Act took effect nearly two weeks ago, Sylvia and her team have been helping more women than ever before.
“In a normal week, we usually provide 150 pregnancy tests and around 75 ultrasounds, but in one week after the law, we did 302 pregnancy tests and 140 ultrasounds,” she said.
They also provide antidotes for life-killing abortion drugs. Common abortion pills disintegrate the child’s connection to his or her mother, then induce heavy bleeding and cramping to expel the dead baby’s body from the womb.
Sylvia said after she saw that Planned Parenthood wants to do 65 percent of their abortions chemically, she wanted to get more involved in helping women. The center began sending out their mobile medical units to provide antidotes and services, especially since women who take the first abortion pill have only hours to reverse it and save the baby’s life.
On the frontlines with full and free care
Furthermore, the Pregnancy Help Center also provides a wide spectrum of care and resources to women, doing everything they can to save the baby and support the mother.
“I told my staff, you’re not in control of [the woman’s decision to kill her baby], but you do have this wonderful opportunity to give her facts, to allow her to see her womb, to let her know [there are] resources available to help her, that we will assist her until her unborn child is 36 months old,” Sylvia said. “Free diapers, brand-new baby clothes, support to help them continue their education and college, housing support, adoption education—all of these resources are available to them free of charge. There’s no cost to her for this service. We have a nurse on board, we have a medical consultation, we have medical case managers that will assist her in applying to have her medical bill covered through programs here in the state.”
And regardless of the firestorm in the media, Sylvia said her team’s role is to focus on helping the women they see every day.
“I tell my staff every day that they’re the soldiers, the frontline workers, because the real focal point is the one-on-one with the woman coming through the door. I tell them, ‘You cannot be distracted by what’s in the peripheral,’” she said. “We must stay focused on her. She matters. She matters most of all—caring about her and serving her [with] the utmost respect, in a non-judgmental way, without any influences from the lies out there in the media.”
The racism and horror of abortion
Speaking of the media, Sylvia added it’s absurd they are outraged over saving babies—and won’t recognize the racist history and operations of the abortion industry.
“From a personal standpoint, I find it very strange that the most racist institution in the United States today is the abortion industry. You will not find one more racist,” she said. “You can take down all the statutes across this country yet allow Planned Parenthoods to continue, and there, right there, is the root of racism at its finest. It started with the founder and it perpetuates today, when 95 percent of their locations are in the black neighborhoods.”
“We as a people, African Americans, have allowed them to convince us to pay them to kill our unborn children and then to sell our unborn children’s baby parts. This is the reality of it.”
What can citizens do about the atrocity?
“One mistake we as pro-lifers don’t need to make right now is to be silent. We were silent back in the early ‘70s, and that’s what gave us Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Now fast-forward 40 plus years, and we see the horror of the abortion industry,” Sylvia said. “When you look back in history and see the people who were not quiet during the hard times, their stances against what the entire country or world was saying at that time, their voices of righteousness, is what shifted history.”
Pray, host a baby shower for a girl who’s pregnant, support maternity homes, encourage young fathers, reach out to young men, encourage your pastor to say something affirming to the congregation, comfort those in the church who’ve encountered abortion (1 in 7 women in church, according to one statistic).
We’re serving every day on the frontlines of helping the moms, but we can’t do that without people helping us by praying for us, dropping off diapers for the moms, and assisting us financially so we can pay the people who help the women.
And all of those efforts earn a priceless reward: On September 19, the Pregnancy Help Center is hosting a baby dedication at a Houston-area church, to celebrate and dedicate more than 50 babies recently saved by their work.
“I’m challenging the people in this church to go out of their way to affirm these mothers, speak words of encouragement to them and their children, let them remember church as a place where people made them feel welcome.”
“That woman in crisis is our priority,” Sylvia concluded. “That is who we want to reach. That is why we exist.”