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With 'Texas Heartbeat Act' in effect, maternity home ministries prepare to help more women with unexpected pregnancies

One Austin-based maternity home ministry has already started receiving more calls asking what services and help they can offer.

AUSTIN, Texas — Once the so-called Texas Heartbeat Act took effect, preventing most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Jeannine Floores started preparing to help more women with unexpected pregnancies.

"I know people are angry. I don't have time to participate," Floores said. "I'm grateful that these tiny little people are being seen as, as unborn people, not just somebody's choice to get rid of."

Floores started Breath of Life Maternity Home Ministries more than 20 years ago. Before she started it, she went through her own unexpected pregnancy and ended up giving her baby up for adoption. Now, she helps women navigate pregnancy and choose what's best for them: being a birth parent or putting their own baby up for adoption.

"We take four girls at a time in this house. It's a small unit because I want to have one-on-one time," Floores said.

RELATED: Texas abortion rights advocates again ask Supreme Court to intervene in challenge against new law

Floores opened "Sarah's House" a while back to provide a home for women who don't have a good support system to go through pregnancy. If a woman and Breath of Life agree for her to live in the home, she has to agree to a particular schedule of helping around the house and figuring out work, as well as joining a daily devotional and church on Sundays. 

Most women who find help with Breath of Life don't stay at Sarah's House but still find support with Floores and her volunteers.

"We are working with twice as many women outside the housing portion of the program in counseling and resource connection and helping them find jobs," Floores said. "Sometimes, it's just sitting at Sonic drinking a Coke, getting to cook with them, going, 'How are you doing?' Or sending a card."

There is no cost to the women who go to Breath of Life for help but there is an interview process. 

Crystal Burket sought help with Breath of Life in 2015 after getting pregnant unexpectedly. She did not live in Sarah's House, but found an apartment and moved in with her mom.

RELATED: Texas 'Heartbeat Act' is in effect. Here's what that means

"They were here to help me just navigate the situation, really. I was in a position where I didn't have a whole lot of support, I didn't have a lot of support from the father-to-be," Burket said.

Burket gave her son up for adoption. She still sees him every year, visiting him and his adoptive parents outside Texas. For privacy reasons, KVUE is not naming the state where Burket's son lives.

Burket needed support getting maternity clothes and going to counseling and Lamaze classes. She said Floores was kind of like a second mom to her. 

Floores prides herself on being reliable.

"[Women] don't run out of here with their whole world put together, but they know where to go when things fall apart," Floores said. "They know we're still going to be here loving them. The end result is to establish a strong relationship with her so that she has the support she needs to do what she believes is best for her child."

While Floores supports the Texas Heartbeat Act and was admittedly pleasantly surprised that it passed, she knows that being a parent, giving up a child for adoption and abortion can all co-exist.

"We have volunteers who are pro-choice and truly believe there should be a choice and an option ... not just life or death," Floores said. "I think this is a neutral territory where both sides can come together and say, 'Let's work together and try to understand each other better.'"

Women who stay in Sarah's House can stay there for up to approximately two years: the months they are pregnant and the year after giving birth. Floores said about 70% of the women she sees end up keeping their child, while 30% put their child up for adoption. 

Since opening Breath of Life Maternity Ministries, Floores estimates they have helped 400 women a year with some sort of support: taking them to classes, providing items like strollers and baby clothes or simply lending an ear to listen. Three hundred women total have stayed in Sarah's House over the past 20 years.

WATCH: Abortion providers surrounding Texas swamped with calls after Heartbeat Act takes effect


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