“Birthright offers love, hope and support to each woman, to help her make a realistic plan for her future and the future of her unborn child.”
The Birthright of Fredericksburg Story:
In 1976, a few good souls knew that to combat the “choice of abortion” another choice needed to be made available to women in our community facing an unplanned pregnancy. Led by founder, Irene Hagerty, they simply asked, “How can we help you have your baby?” And so began the quiet, purposeful presence of Birthright of Fredericksburg!
Forty years later, we continue to provide needed services to women seeking our assistance and so by serving mothers, we serve their unborn babies As a result, many women considering abortion choose life.
We’re often asked how we measure our success. The following reflects one of the many hearts changed by the simplicity of BR volunteers being available to listen to the pregnant woman’s concerns and to show love for both mother and child.
Years ago, a young pregnant woman (Mary) came into Birthright seeking assistance for an abortion. The BR counselor explained that BR did not have abortion information and instead asked Mary what scared her most about being pregnant and having a baby and asked “How can we help you have your baby?” A heartfelt conversation followed and the counselor was convinced that the Mary’s heart had changed. Instead as Mary left, she thanked the counselor and said she would be seeking an abortion anyway. The counselor asked Mary to consider the conversation & to let her know that BR would always be open to her . When she left, the counselor cried. Imagine the joy when Mary came in 7 months later with a beautiful newborn. She simply said that after the conversation with the BR counselor she could not go through with the abortion. Both cried—this time with tears of joy. This is Birthright in a nutshell.
It is through generous donations and prayers that we have the courage to continue this Pro-Life work in whatever capacity we have been blessed with — one mom one baby at a time.
Love and Affection
Many Birthright volunteers and clients feel a special affection for Louise Summerhill- an ordinary woman who did something extraordinary to help others. Events in her own life helped her understand the feelings pregnant girls might experience, including feelings of loneliness, fear of criticism, tension with parents, and even the shock of finding oneself unexpectedly pregnant.
A Different, more Universal Approach
Birthright takes a non-moralistic, non-judgmental approach toward helping women through their pregnancy dilemmas. Louise regretted the fact that some young unmarried mothers were belittled or ostracized by their relatives: “I can never see anything wrong with any of them.” At Birthright, Louise recreated the supportive homelike environment they deserved. Moreover, Louise helped formulate a Charter, followed by all Birthright chapters worldwide, to define Birthright’s services, to ensure that pregnant women receive the same considerate treatment at every Birthright chapter, and to help volunteers preserve Birthright’s good reputation in the future.
Louise Summerhill’s Legacy
On her death, three of Louise’s daughters assumed the Co-presidency of Birthright International. To this day, Mary Berney continues to provide administrative and management support in her work at the Birthright Headquarters, while Stephenie Fox, a CPA, oversees financial matters. Louise R. Summerhill, Louise’s namesake, is a practicing lawyer who provides legal and other support as needed. All of them are committed to their mother’s vision of Birthright and to ensuring that her legacy lives on as long as Birthright is needed. Louise Sr.’s legacy has also taken hold in her family’s next generation: her granddaughter, Victoria Summerhill Fox, provides assistance to Mary in the office. This multi-generational legacy plays itself out in Birthright chapters all over the world!