“She’s pregnant,” it says. “Now what?”
Pregnancy Resources of Abilene, an agency that provides choices, freedom, hope and answers regarding pregnancy, according to its Web site, is advertising on a billboard on Ambler Avenue, directly across the street from Elmer Gray Stadium. The billboard features a confused 20-something man with these words in quotes near his head. Below the image is Pregnancy Resources’ contact information.
Holly Whitehead, executive director for Pregnancy Resources, said the advertising space, donated by an anonymous source, allows the message to reach its target audience of college students, particularly males 15-24 years old. The location was not chosen because of its proximity to ACU and the students who inhabit the surrounding areas, but it does help further their efforts, Whitehead said.
“We’re trying to increase visibility, and one of the main groups for that are college-aged students,” she said. “There’s a lot of students on college and high school campuses that don’t know we’re here and that we provide free and confidential services.”
These services include pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD testing and treatment. The organization also provides optional consultations about pregnancy, adoption and abortion, although the agency does not provide referrals for abortions.
Eunice Lara, freshman biochemistry major from Abilene, said she approves of the billboard’s placement and appreciates the services it offers that are not advertised on campus.
“It’s a really good idea, especially since ACU doesn’t really address it at all,” Lara said. “I want people to know help is there. This is a college campus, and there’s a possibility students might need it.”
Lara said she has seen campus advertisements that offer help and guidance for most personal issues, but the billboard is a step ahead of the university in openly offering assistance with unplanned pregnancies.
“I’m sure the Counseling Center would help someone in that situation, but it’s not addressed publically,” she said. “I see help for depression, suicidal thoughts, temptation, addiction and feeling sad, but what if you are afraid you might be pregnant?”
Steve Rowlands, director of the Counseling Center, said in such a situation, the Counseling Center would absolutely serve the student in any way possible.
“We are available to every student with whatever life brings their way,” Rowlands said. “If a student had an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, they could come and find a safe place to talk and think through what’s going on in their life.”
In addition to confidentially helping the student deal with the emotional side of an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, the Counseling Center would help students connect with local resources, Rowlands said.
“An appointment can be in a formal or informal way,” he said. Students can talk with a counselor one-on-one or attend a Soda and Solution meeting, which allows anyone struggling with an issue to talk about it openly and in a safe space. Rowlands said he encourages anyone struggling with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy to make an appointment with the Counseling Center, located in the lower level of McKinzie Hall, regardless of how the student wishes to address the issue.
Whether students glance at the Pregnancy Resources billboard and keep driving or find themselves in the same situation as the blond kid in the picture, there are people and places on campus and in the community willing and ready to help.