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Pregnancy support requests more than double from financial stress and abortion normalisation

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pregnancy support centre - The Catholic weekly
Jennifer Gurry, CEO of Diamond Women, provides counselling services in her Castle Hill offices. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Cost-of-living woes and laws “normalising” abortion have seen requests for assistance to the Diamond Women support service more than double since last year, says its chief executive officer Jennifer Gurry. 

The service, which has offices in northwest Sydney and the Central Coast, saw a 135 per cent increase in calls for help between January 2023 and January 2024 and is on track to see a similar increase this year. 

“Already to date we are higher than the whole of 2022 and the number of women who are reaching out to us for help is up around 115 per cent on last year,” Gurry said. 

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The service has eight part-time counsellors, including volunteers, taking requests from across the country but mostly regional New South Wales centres such as Tamworth, Bathurst and Wagga.  

Gurry is preparing to roll out new programs in Wagga and Wollongong and says without government funding it is “always a juggle” to meet the needs of those who access the service for pregnancy or post-abortion counselling or mentoring, and material assistance. 

They include Helen* who reached out after seeing a flyer in her doctor’s office 2022 when she was pregnant with her first child. 

“I’d just come out of a domestic violence relationship and knew nothing about babies and without them I probably wouldn’t have had my daughter,” Helen said. 

pregnancy support centre - The Catholic Weekly

“I had to become a single mum and move house. They supported me with everything, free counselling, nappies, socialising opportunities with other mums, and they helped me meet my doula, who pretty much taught me everything.” 

Gurry said since the abortion law reform in New South Wales in 2019 more women call seeking advice on abortion, but there is also a noticeable increase in people contacting the service who feel crushed by their living expenses. 

“It probably is more of a 2024 problem that is putting enormous pressure on mums in terms of their decision-making process,” she said.  

“What we’re hearing is that I can’t have this baby because it costs too much, it’s so expensive, or I already have two kids, or three kids, and how can I ever afford this? 

“And I think it’s a trend that’s synonymous across the industry.” 

Pregnancy Help Sydney, which offers a free support hotline for pregnant and post-abortive women and their partners, has also seen an increase in calls for material support over the past year. 

Requests have varied from larger items such as car seats, cots, bassinets and prams to smaller necessities like nappies and formula. 

“We are fortunate that we can also work with local Vinnies shops and other organisations within our network when needed,” said a spokeswoman. 

*Name changed to protect the client’s privacy. 

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