By Matthew Wagner, Education Director
Editor’s Note: This post is a continuation of a series of “Pro-Life Heroes”…individuals who are making a difference for the pro-life movement in their communities.
It is often said that today’s youth are the pro-life generation. Juliana Kriner and her young friends exemplify that message. Juliana is the Vice President/Director of Outreach of “reLOVE.” Enjoy her story. You can find reLOVE on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/reLOVEnational/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/reloventl/ .
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for future “Pro-Life Heroes” blogs. If you know of someone we should talk to who is making a difference for those who can’t defend themselves, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Matt: Tell me about yourself. Why are you pro-life, and what does that mean to you?
Juliana: I am a 15 year old sophomore in Williamsport. I love the band Fall Out Boy almost as much as I love my niece (and my other [preborn] niece and nephew). I’m an avid activist for social justice and I definitely consider myself a feminist. I’m pro-life because I’m such a huge feminist. Every single human being on this Earth is valuable and deserved the utmost respect, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age. I believe, as our feminist foremothers did, that abortion is a tool of the patriarchy and a result of greed. Abortion allows women to be taken control of by others. Over 60% of women say that they have been “pressured” or “coerced” into having an abortion, often by the men in their life. Truthfully, most men who consider themselves pro-choice, just don’t want to be responsible if their girlfriend or wife becomes pregnant. Abortion enables men to take advantage of women. It’s as if men view women as less worthy if we become pregnant. In the end, abortion does a fantastic job of supporting men who simply refuse to grow up.
Matt: What is reLOVE, and how did it get started?
Juliana: reLOVE is an organization geared toward helping mothers and women of all kinds: pregnant, new, post-miscarriage, and post-abortive. We are three teenagers that uphold the consistent life ethic. One of my best friends, Purity Thomas, came up with the idea for reLOVE a few months after she was assaulted outside of Roanoke’s Planned Parenthood…She knew that the best way to combat hate was through love. (Editor’s Note: For more on the story of Purity’s assault, click here) She messaged me and asked if reLOVE was something I would be interested in. I was ecstatic that she had asked for my help. Soon, we asked my friend, Taniya Smith, to help us as well. Taniya, who runs a popular pro-life Instagram, was just as excited as I was to help women. Thus, reLOVE was born.
Matt: What do you do for pregnant mothers?
Juliana: For pregnant mothers, every situation is different. One mama might only need directions to her local pregnancy center or a pack of onesies. Others might need help getting insurance or paying their utilities. Really, we help these women based on their needs. We don’t turn anyone down either. It’s important to us that if these women need help, we’ll be here to provide.
Matt: How do these mothers find out about you?
Juliana: So far, social media has been the most popular place for women to find us. We also actively seek out to find these mothers that need help in unplanned pregnancy support groups or through mutual friends on Facebook. Really, social media is the connection point. A lot of these women are very active on these platforms so it’s especially important to put ourselves out there and to be as visible as possible.
Matt: I know you’ve only been in existence a short time, but can you share some of your success stories?
Juliana: We’ve had the absolute honor of helping 4 different women in our short time. Our one mother is 4.5 months. When she came to us, she was 8 weeks along and had just come out of a domestic violence situation. We got her set up with a birth center where she’s excited to have her baby later this year. We’re helping her manage her debt and budgeting in order to save for her baby. She came to us nervous, not sure how she was going to manage being a mother, now she can’t wait to find out the gender of the baby and enjoy the rest of her pregnancy.
Matt: Often pro-lifers hear that they are not really “pro-life” but are just “pro-birth”…implying that we don’t really care about the baby or mother after he or she is born. How do you respond to that?
Juliana: I’ll be honest, that argument really does upset me. I don’t think a lot of people understand how many pro-lifers really do care for the mother and the baby. Our organization is an example of that love and support extending past pregnancy. One of our amazing mamas is 10 months postpartum with her adorable daughter. She’s been having trouble with rent and utilities. We’ve set up a GoFundMe for her rent and utilities as well as an Amazon wish list for her material needs. She’s so grateful for all those people who helped her. She sent us a bunch of pictures of her little girl with a pair of the gifted socks on because she was just that excited. It just really warms your heart when you see these women so thankful over simple things that most people would take for granted.
Matt: What do you hear the most when you tell people about ReLOVE, and how do you respond?
Juliana: Most people are very supportive and are pretty impressed that two 15 year olds and one 16 year old can run an organization, go to school, and work part time jobs. It’s really about the passion though. We all love what we’re doing and we get emotional quite often about how lucky we are to meet these powerful women and be able to walk with them through their journeys. Other people however, are skeptical. They wonder what these teenagers are doing with the donated money. Trust us, it’s going to these mamas. We even raised enough money for one of our mothers (who was going to place her baby into an adoptive family) to take a few days off of work after she suffered a miscarriage. We were the only ones there for her since she hadn’t told anyone other than us about the pregnancy. We thought it would be best for her to rest, emotionally and physically, during and after her miscarriage. That’s what the money goes to, nothing but supporting the mothers and our mission.
Matt: What would you say to a pregnant mother considering abortion?
Juliana: The most important thing to say to a woman considering abortion is “you are so loved.” When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, there’s so many emotions going on. It’s easy to panic and throw information at her about how far along she is or that her baby has a heartbeat. Right now, she just needs someone to talk to. Empowerment is key. Let her know that she can do it. That she is strong and nothing can break her. Be sure to let her know that you care about her. So many people make the mistake of focusing on the baby but the woman is who you’re here to help. If you’re not helping that mama, you’re not helping anyone. Without the mama, that baby’s not even there! Lastly, make sure she knows that regardless of her decision, you’ll be there for her. If she chooses abortion, ask her what you can do to help. Sometimes, you can’t save the baby, but you can still care for that mom.
Matt: If people want to get involved with ReLOVE, how would they do so?
Juliana: If people want to get involved with reLOVE, just message us! There’s always something to do! We might be having trouble finding some resources in a certain area or maybe there’s a pregnant mom near you who just needs a friend to talk to. We can find you something you’d love to do.
Matt: What do you see for the future for reLOVE?
Juliana: The future of reLOVE definitely comes when we officially file as a nonprofit. Since we’re all minors, we have to find someone to actually sign the paperwork for us! Right now, we’re just focusing on getting more funds and helping more moms. Now this is a huge step but I believe that a good goal to strive for is to have a reLOVE representative in every state. Right now, we have Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Washington state covered. Things can only get better from here!