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|Hayley Matthews • 5/13/16|
The 411: Through its one of a kind services and social change strategies, Backline is creating a world where every person can be supported in making the best reproductive decisions for them.
Whether you’re pregnant for the first time, are considering an abortion, have just become a parent or are considering adoption, it can be difficult to find someone to talk to who will actually listen to your feelings without telling you what to do.
But that’s exactly what Backline does.
Founded in 2004 in Portland, Oregon, Backline provides unconditional and judgment-free support for all people when it comes to any and all reproductive decisions, and perhaps the best way they do this is with their national, toll-free Talkline.
“Our founders saw the need for a deeper exploration and safe space for people to have conversations across all of these issues,” said Shelly Dodson, Backline’s program director. “Our Talkline is the only national, unaffiliated talkline that offers support across pregnancy, parenting, abortion, adoption, pregnancy loss and infertility before, during and after any of these experiences.”
Powered by more than 30 volunteers, Backline not only provides a place where people can openly communicate, but it also creates opportunities for people to become engaged in conversations that expand their empathy and compassion, which become invaluable life skills.
“With our national Talkline, we don’t have a place that we need to get to with them,” she said. “Our only agenda is to hold that confidential space for people to have unconditional support, which is a rare thing to have in our country,” she said.
From hosting workshops and trainings to using social media, research and community dialogues to make a change, Backline’s vision has always been to revolutionize new and existing services, transform awareness and weave networks together.
The most recent way they’re doing those three things is with the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, a first of its kind center that will open May 2 in Bloomington, Indiana.
This new space will offer free pregnancy tests, peer counseling, materials like diapers and baby clothes, referrals for health care providers, abortion funding and more — all free of charge.
“It’s taking the vision and the work that we’ve been doing with the Talkline and making it a brick-and-mortar,” Dodson said.
Dodson added that this kind of center is particularity important for states in the Midwest, which often get overlooked in conversations about reproductive justice and reproductive health.
“People here want to be involved in that conversation. People here want to be engaged. People here are desiring this space for them to be heard and listened to,” she said. “We’re excited to put Indiana on the map for something positive that supports families and people.”
It’s easy to see that Backline has made a significant impact over the past 10 years, and the next 10 years look to be just as bright, especially with the launch of All Options.
“One of our goals is to open up a space that provides open-hearted and open-minded support for people across all of their pregnancy and parenting turning points,” Dodson said. “We’re going to be here for people with love, compassion and support regardless of what they’re going through or how they’re feeling about it. To feel that you’re heard can be really powerful and life changing for people.”
Future goals also include interacting with more organizations and community members, opening more pregnancy resource centers, expanding Talkline hours and providing more workshops and training sessions across the country.
“We want to create a space where people can come together regardless of what field they’re in,” she said. “We’re providing a space for people to dig down deep around feelings and experiences and values across pregnancy, parenting, abortion, adoption and infertility. We want people to ask themselves, ‘How do we support people, how do we unpack our own stuff and set it aside in order to support people in a better way?
To learn more about Backline, visit yourbackline.org. You can also call the Talkline at 1-888-493-0092 from anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.