On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a historic win for the pro-life movement. But in the wake of the decision, many people have questions about what this decision really means, how it will impact the daily lives of women and families at a state level, and what this new season of the pro-life movement will look like.
Meet Leah Jacobson, CEO and founder of the Guiding Star Project, a national provider of healthcare services for women. A board-certified lactation consultant and mother of seven, Leah has been a champion of alternative pro-woman healthcare solutions for the past 20 years.
Radiant had the opportunity to speak with Leah about her efforts to educate women in true bodily autonomy and what healthcare could (and should!) look like in a post-Roe world when women and families are seeking resources and accompaniment more than ever before.
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Radiant: Can you tell us about the Guiding Star Project and its mission?
Leah Jacobson: The Guiding Star Project exists to make every woman happy and whole. We want women to understand and embrace the natural bodies they were given and to really see that they are unique, special and irreplaceable. At our seven affiliate locations across five states, we focus on telling women the truth about their goodness, specifically through healthcare.
Our four core services [are]: fertility, childbirth, breastfeeding and family life. Those are the things we use in our centers to really revolutionize women’s healthcare and how women view themselves.
So, Guiding Star not only serves women in our healthcare centers, but we’re also working to spark a women’s healthcare revolution nationally by putting out our worldview through publications and speaking and other media.
Radiant: Many women in crisis pregnancies feel isolated and think that abortion is the only option. What are some of the ways the Guiding Star Project creates alternatives for women that celebrate the beauty and dignity of motherhood?
Leah: We take a very proactive approach. Our approach to crisis pregnancy is to prevent it. We want to have relationships with women well before they’re even sexually active, well before they’re in a crisis situation.
We hope to engage with women for the first time when they’re nine years old in our Cycle Show, when we’re teaching them about the beauty of their fertile female bodies by learning about puberty and their cycles.
If they end up coming back to us in a crisis situation, we want to be their main healthcare provider. We want them to be getting their medical care from us. So, if they come back to us in a pregnancy that was unplanned or one they’re not really excited about, we work really hard to help her understand she can be the hero of this story.
We think she is strong, she is capable and she is not alone. We will be with her every step of the way to make sure she has a successful, empowering pregnancy.
Radiant: Around the nation, Guiding Star centers offer services such as menstrual-cycle education for young girls, lactation education and fertility chart reviews. How can addressing the lack of education that women have about their bodies and fertility be a healing and integral aspect of the pro-life movement?
Leah: Not only is it a healing and integral aspect, it is what the pro-life movement must focus on, especially in a post-Roe world.
No woman who truly loves, understands and embraces her natural body chooses an abortion willingly. The circumstances of abortion are horrible, and for a woman to feel that abortion is her best option, that she’s willing to destroy herself, it means we have really failed her.
We failed to help her see that she deserves bodily autonomy; that she deserves to be whole; that she can expect support culturally, professionally, spiritually and emotionally.
The work we’re doing educating girls about their cycle is teaching them that their bodies deserve to be protected and respected. The work we’re doing with childbirth preparation, lactation support and fertility chart reviews affirms that her body is good and deserves to be seen and understood.
Without those things, women are not going to choose life in difficult times. When you don’t understand the goodness of your own body, you cannot see the goodness of what your body creates. You can’t extend love for the baby growing within if you don’t have love for the body holding your baby.
So it is not just part of the pro-life movement; this needs to be something the pro-life movement is embracing, and embracing through the vehicle of healthcare. There has been so much trauma. We need to undo that trauma and insist upon healing through healthcare as well.
Radiant: There are many organizations within communities working to serve women who face unplanned and crisis pregnancies. Because they’re working in the same community, these organizations might find themselves competing instead of collaborating. How do Guiding Star centers create community and collaboration for different pro-life organizations within a community and increase resources for women and families?
Leah: This has absolutely been a problem in the pro-life movement for the last several decades. There has been a scarcity mindset, a feeling that there’s only enough money, only enough support, only enough for me to survive, and that I can’t operate with an abundance mindset.
But at Guiding Star we are of the opinion that a rising tide lifts all ships. So our centers are focused on collaboration and community building. We invite providers, individual entities and businesses into our center as tenants, as partners. We want to take the best in a community and put it all together for the ease and convenience of the women and families we’re serving.
We think our model works not only for the sake of the women, but also for the organizations because there’s no duplication of resources. We can save money when everybody is sharing space. When you don’t have to duplicate staff waiting room areas, break rooms and coffee machines, not everybody is paying for the exact same sort of business expenses.
That allows us to use this funding and this money to increase the number of services we’re providing, and also just direct that referral across the hallway. Instead of sending somebody to a like-minded provider across town where they can get an appointment in three weeks, you can literally walk them across the hallway to introduce them to the provider.
That’s the sort of holistic and integrative healthcare we need to be expecting and demanding. Otherwise, women fall through the cracks.
Radiant: What impact does the overturning of Roe v. Wade have on the Guiding Star Project and its centers?
Leah: Honestly, it doesn’t change the work we’re doing at all. The work we have been doing for the last decade has been to simply teach women about the goodness of their bodies. We were not in the business of lobbying for laws and working through legislative channels. We are in the business of heart change, culture change and education for women.
This doesn’t change the work we do day in and day out at every single Guiding Star center, [or] the work we’re doing nationally to change the worldview and definitions of things.
I think the need for our centers is better understood now than ever before. We have a proactive, preventative approach to stopping abortion, and that’s critical right now.
Radiant: Do you have any advice for ways women can get involved with their local pro-life centers and support women and families?
Leah: Just bring your authentic self. Whatever it is you are good at, offer it. It’s important to offer yourself as a volunteer if there’s something locally you can do.
It’s also important to put out a positive, hospitable, welcoming presence into our culture right now. There’s so much fear, and there’s so much misinformation. You can be a calm, loving, invitational source of truth,
Embrace your own feminine genius and your own motherhood. Your motherhood is really your ability to see the needs of others and the needs of the vulnerable.
As women in our culture, it’s critical we live out that motherhood. At this moment in time, our culture and our world is so divided. It needs the presence of women as peacemakers in order to end the fighting, hatred and division.
So I think women really embracing who we are called to be is step one. Then, allow that to pour over onto others. It might not be that you actually do volunteer at a pro-life center. It might just be you are a good neighbor, or you bring a meal to a mom you see is in need.
Being yourself and being available and present at this moment in time is the vital contribution we need from you right now.