Birthright has been in St. Charles since 1981. We started as a branch of Birthright Counseling St. Louis and in 2010 became an independent organization in order to support the needs of the growing St. Charles community.
Birthright began in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1968, when Louise Summerhill, a busy housewife and mother of seven children, felt something should be done to help women through an unplanned pregnancy. The grassroots response to her idea was overwhelming, and the Toronto chapter quickly grew into Birthright International, the world’s first international crisis pregnancy service. Birthright International now works with more than 400 chapters worldwide, including Canada, the United States, and others in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Colombia. Birthright is a fully independent organization, not affiliated with any church or public agency. Its name and logo are trademarks.
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 life helped her understand the feelings pregnant girls might experience, including loneliness, fear of criticism, tension with parents, and even the shock of finding oneself unexpectedly pregnant.
Birthright began very humbly in 1968, with a one-room office and only $300 in the bank. But Louise’s steady leadership and powerful vision ensured that the new pregnancy service survived. In later years, Louise was glad the organization did not begin with a lot of money because it caused Birthright to rely on the “good hearts and hard work of volunteers” to provide “lots of love and common sense.” All these years later, Birthright International remains true to Louise’s original vision of personal, one-on-one contact in helping relationships. Louise’s Birthright means “approachability and informality” for clients and volunteers, instead of bureaucracy and meetings in highly structured, business-like environments.
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.” Louise recreated the supportive homelike environment they deserved to have. 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 outstanding reputation.
- Tax deductible donations as allowed by law
- Dedicated volunteers and professionals
- Non-sectarian, Non-profit 501(c)3 service organization
- Not involved in legislation, picketing, or lobbying efforts