Why I love Backline and why you should too

Today, the basics. Next post, more.

What is Backline? I’m glad you ask. Backline is a non-profit organization that promotes non-judgmental, unbiased and unconditional support for people in all their decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss.

What does that mean? If you’re a person who has had or are having any kind of experience with pregnancy in any way, shape, or form, and you have thoughts or feelings to process, we’re here for you. If you just found out you’re pregnant and you’re freaking out, we’re here to listen. If you had an abortion three years ago and you aren’t “over it” yet, we’re here for you to talk it out. If you’re trying to decide what your options are in your pregnancy, we can do options counseling with you. If you need to talk or process anything, we’re here for you. We’re also here for you if you just need info on finding ways to pay for your abortion. If you need some parenting resources, we can help with that, too. Backline is there to provide whatever support you need at the moment.

Do you provide support around issues of infertility and/or pregnancy loss? Absolutely! If it has anything to do with pregnancy, we’re here to help.

How can I get help from you? We have a toll-free number you can call (1-888-493-0092). You’ll reach one of our totally awesome peer counselor/advocates who have been extensively trained in non-directive client-centered counseling and values clarification, and they can have any conversation that you need to have in the moment that you’re calling. If no one answers, leave a message! We  make multiple attempts to return calls.

What’s the catch? Are you a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC)? No! We are NOT a CPC and there are NO strings attached to the help that we offer. We want to hold a space that supports people in all their decisions and feelings as they weigh their options and make the decisions that are right for them. These moments in our lives are difficult enough without having to worry about judgment or fulfilling extra obligations so we can get the support we need.

This sounds great! Is there a physical location I can visit to get help in person from Backline?  Great question. Unfortunately, Backline doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location from which we can offer our services. But you can help change that! We are currently raising money to open the very first of its kind All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center! This center will be located in Bloomington, Indiana, a little island of blue in a sea of red.

First of its kind? Something like this doesn’t exist already? No! Isn’t it crazy?

What does “All-Options” mean? It means if you need free diapers and baby clothes, you’d be able to get some from us. If you want in-person peer counseling, you’d be able to get that from us. If you need an abortion referral, you could get that from us. Need info on quality adoption agencies? You’d be able to get that from us too! “All-options” means that we are here to help you consider whatever options you feel are viable for you — parenting, abortion and adoption. We don’t specialize in one option — we’re ready to talk about all of them. 

Why Indiana? Unbiased, non-judgmental resources for pregnant people in Indiana (and across the nation) are shrinking. Bloomington is a central location in the state and we believe Bloomington has the community support to keep an all-options resource center alive once we get it going. Bloomington is a great little town. And, as Program Director Shelly Dodson says, “If it can work in Indiana, it can work anywhere.” Backline hopes that this All-Options Center will serve as a model for future AOPRCs all over the country.

I don’t live in Indiana. Why should I give you money for the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center? Because, believe it or not, All-Options Pregnancy Resource Centers do not exist already. Yes, it’s a great idea, and I know you want to start one in your community because it seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and funding for something like this is difficult to come by. Some places don’t want to give money to an organization that allows abortion to be part of the conversation. Some places only want to give money to an organization for whom abortion is the only option.

Why should you donate your money? Because you care. Because you (or your sister or your best friend or your daughter or your mother or…the list goes on) might need something like this someday. Because you (or they) needed something like this yesterday, last week, last month, ten years ago. Because you want to change the conversation around pregnancy/abortion/adoption from being simply about pro-choice/pro-life to being about offering unconditional support to a person regardless of the choices they make or will make.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about a time where you’ve found yourself in circumstances where you felt like you had no one to talk to, where you felt like you’d be judged if you told anyone what you were thinking or feeling. Could be pregnancy, could be abortion, could be anything else you can think of.

Imagine telling someone in your life about what you’re going through and finding judgment and shame there. Our lives and our situations are messy and complicated and we all want someone to just listen to us, to hear what we’re saying and treat us with dignity and respect. I truly believe that Backline and its All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center are taking the first steps toward creating a world where this is the norm, not the exception.


Want to read some articles about Backline? Sweet!

Our ‘Pro-Choice’ and ‘Pro-Life’ Labels Aren’t Working. Can We Move Beyond Them? (Think Progress)
Group Plans to Open First-of-its-Kind All-Options Pregnancy Center (RH Reality Check)


Where can I donate?

All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center – Backline’s Crowdrise Funding Campaign


In my next post, I’m going to talk even more about why I love and believe in this work and in Backline. Stay tuned.


I’ve got to get better at this.

Big sigh, imaginary readers. I feel like I’m always confessing things at the beginning of these posts, or writing a disclaimer that says something like, “I actually started writing this several months ago and forgot about it, but here it is now, oops!”

So here it is. I’ve been on a some kind of hiatus. I don’t know what kind of hiatus. It wasn’t one to rejuvenate, and it wasn’t one to get my shit together and come back in full force. It was just a hiatus where I couldn’t bear to look at a blank page and a blinking cursor. There were (and are) things I wanted to write about but I didn’t know how and I still don’t.

Since my last post about the YA love of my life, Mortal Instruments, my life has become much more complicated. I hope to be able to write about it here and elsewhere one day. Right now, I can’t. Because everything I’m feeling surrounding this event is still so fresh and new, I have no idea how to express it precisely — and precision is important. Especially when it comes to pain and feelings and emotions (I’ve just discovered feelings and emotions are two separate things). And anonymity for the people involved in this is important for reasons of safety and privacy. (Don’t worry — nobody’s dying.) And, simply, I’m not ready to announce this to the world. I realize this is pretty vague. You’re just going to have to live with it.

I feel like every blog has a thing, and I don’t know what my thing is. That’s not true. I do know what my thing is. My thing is wandering. My thing is the journey. It’s figuring out who I am and who I want to be, and it feels like those journeys should be written about. It’s easier to write about it in hindsight rather than in real time, and I want to challenge myself to write about things in real time. There’s no timeline to the journey, no set point where I’ll get to say, “Okay, that’s done. Now I can write about all this in hindsight.”

I do know that one day, my brother and I will co-write a book about our lives. At the very least, an essay. It will be funny. It will be heartbroken. It will be heartbreaking. It will be dark. It will be light. It will be full of love. We just have to make it to a moment where we’re ready to write it.

So here I am, trying to process in real time.


Since my last post, I’ve had 40+ hours of training in non-directive client-centered counseling and intensive values clarification. I’m a peer counselor. I listen to people talk about their lives, about the decisions they have to make. Sometimes they don’t want to make decisions, but they have to. Sometimes they’re forced to make decisions they don’t want to. Every time, their feelings are messy and complicated and contradictory (seemingly). My job is to listen. To make sure that each person knows that they’re not alone, that I am hearing them, that everything they feel and think is valid. That it’s okay to cry. That’s it okay to feel two, seemingly opposed, things at the same time.

It’s heavy work. At the end of a shift, my body feels exhausted. I struggle to keep my eyes open. My arms feel as if they’ve been holding heavy things for hours. All I want is to sleep. But I love this work.

This work has taught me to recognize my own shit and get over myself. When I sit with someone and listen, I have to be fully present. (They can tell if you aren’t.) I can’t be worried about what I’m going to say next. I can’t be preoccupied with trying to figure out how many different ways I can say “Tell me more” or “That’s hard,” so I don’t sound like a robot to myself. I have to sit and listen to the person who is speaking, be attentive and hear what they’re saying. I can’t have a wall of irony or pretension or self-preservation up. The person who is speaking to me is trusting me with all the things she feels she can’t talk to anybody else in her life about; there’s no place for irony, pretentiousness, criticism in that space. There’s only room for compassion, empathy, active listening. If I’m really listening to her, the next thing that comes out of my mouth will be the “right” thing because it won’t be about me. It will be completely and unequivocally about her (or him).

What this training and this process has also taught me is to trust my voice and my story. Every person I listen to has a story, and every person’s story is important. There is no throwaway story. There is no person I speak to where I think, “You don’t have it that bad.” After every person, I always think, “Fuck. That’s hard. I hope she’ll be okay in whatever happens.”

By holding that space for others, I learn that it’s important to hold that space for myself. To allow myself to contend fully with moments in my life whose importance I’ve minimized. That time I was groped on the playground in first grade? That’s huge. That time I was stalked by a strange man my entire vacation? Fucking important. And so on.

So now I’m writing again.