Members of First Congregational Church, Coaldale, joined with thousands of churches across the United States on Sunday, Jan. 23, in observing Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Suzi DeMara, of Care Net, Lehighton, a pro-life, nonprofit pregnancy resource center, addressed the congregation and explained how the organization provides support to those facing an unplanned pregnancy and encourages healthy choices in sexuality, relationships, and parenting.

Since 1983, Americans have observed Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (SOHLS) as a day to celebrate the intrinsic value of all human life.

This important day also provides an opportunity for pregnancy centers to make the public aware of the work they do to bring life-affirming resources to their communities and to empower women and men to choose life for their unborn children.

The observance is held on the Sunday in January that falls closest to the day on which the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973.

According to DeMara, over 50 million abortions have been performed since the law was enacted and over 1.3 million women have terminated pregnancies.

By the age of 45, she said, one in every two-and-a-half women will have had at least one abortion.

Every day, she added, approximately 4,000 women undergo abortions.

According to statistics, one out of three girls become pregnant before the age of 20, and one in three sexually active girls contract a sexually transmitted disease before the age of 24, she said.

In addition to counseling by certified Care Net volunteers, clients can take advantage of a number of programs including the Earn While You Learn program and post.

Counseling is also available to women suffering post-abortion stress, which affects over 90 percent those who have had abortions.

Care Net depends wholly on the contributions of churches and individuals for its support, as it does not receive any federal or state funding, said DeMara.

Following the service the church's Youth Fellowship group distributed baby bottles to the congregation for saving change which will be donated to Care Net.

Luminaries were also given to members to take home and light in memory of loved ones.

Presenting readings during the special service were Youth Fellowship members, Robert Knipper and Luke Strauch.

Care Net is located at 531 Mahoning St., Lehighton. Information can be obtained by calling (610) 379-0411 or the Care Net hot line, 1-800-395-HELP.

DeMara is available to speak to local churches, civic and social organizations about Care Net's work. She can be reached at the aforementioned number.