A young Hawick woman is currently undertaking potentially life-saving work, in New York City, working in areas such as the Bronx and Queens as part of a frontline pregnancy advice organisation.
Former high school pupil, Vanessa Reith, 21, is taking part in a two-month internship counselling women in crisis on the alternatives to abortion.
Vanessa, who has just graduated from Edinburgh University with an honours degree in medical biology, is also a former president of the Student Pro Life Society in Edinburgh.
After initially reading about the internship online, Vanessa and a friend, Laura Seggie, who comes from Coatbridge, applied and were accepted for the two-month posting in New York.
Vanessa and Laura have both previously worked as volunteers in the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Centre in Glasgow over the last three years during holidays, gaining valuable experience and knowledge in helping vulnerable women in pregnancy.
The Glasgow centre was set up in March 1997 by the late Cardinal Thomas Joseph Winning who launched a major practical initiative to help women facing a crisis pregnancy. They recently celebrated their tenth birthday, and in those ten years have assisted countless women and their families, practically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Women from any ethnic origin, any religion or none, faced with a crisis pregnancy are welcome to contact the Pro-Life Initiative for help.
The New York internship requires the girls to work inside various clinics as well as street counselling. The aim being to take the crisis out of an unplanned pregnancy and offer real alternatives to having an abortion. The Expectant Mother Care (EMC) organisation, with whom both girls are working, is now in its 30th year of operation and has counselled some 42,000 mothers to an alternative to abortion.
As well as practical advice, the EMC offers free ultrasounds to pregnant women from a full-time, mobile clinic.
Parents, Stephanie and Cameron Reith, said: “Although the interns get the opportunity for mini breaks they generally work six days a week in very challenging circumstances. We are extremely proud of what both Vanessa and Laura are doing.”
Vanessa and Laura will return to the UK in September.
And speaking this week, Vanessa said: “Making people aware of all the options available to both the mum and dads-to-be is vitally important and something I feel very passionate about.”
And she added: “Very often decisions are made in haste and both parents can regret their decision in later life.”
She added: “My job is to try and take the ‘crisis’ out of the pregnancy and allow the women involved to make an informed choice – one which hopefully will allow the unborn child to be born.”
The Expectant Mother Care grouphas 12 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Jersey City and White Plains, which serve over 8,000 girls and women per year.