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Human trafficking survivor and the mom of a son addresses March for Life: 'We are here to save souls'

Jean Marie Davis, the executive director of Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in Vermont, told her story to Fox News Digital during the March for Life.

Jean Marie Davis, a pro-life activist and the director of a pregnancy center in Vermont, has an unexpected background story for someone who does what she does.

Her journey to becoming pro-life started 10 years ago, when she was 29 years old. At that time, she was pregnant, using drugs — and running from her pimps. 

Trafficked across 33 states since she was just two years old, Davis told Fox News Digital in Washington, D.C. on Friday that by the time she was 29, she was "abortion-minded." 

She had already had one abortion at the insistence of her pimp.

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But when she came into contact with a pregnancy center in New Hampshire, the encounter would change her life. 

"They allowed me to hear the heartbeat of my son. And when I did that, I looked at them and said, ‘Now what? How can you help me?’ And they shared Jesus with me," she told Fox News Digital on Jan. 19, 2024, at the 51st annual March for Life event in the nation's capital. 

Davis credits Phyllis Phelps, the woman at the New Hampshire center who helped her as a pregnant 29-year-old, with saving her life — and the life of her son.

Phelps eventually encouraged Davis to apply for the position of executive director of Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in nearby Brattleboro, Vermont. She assumed the role two years ago. 

At Branches, "we do so many programs," said Davis. 

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"We just implemented two new programs, which help women who are being trafficked right now, [as well as one for] domestic violence," she told Fox News Digital.

"I actually teach that support class," Davis said. 

Davis told Fox News Digital that her work means she is "constantly helping" women in need. That includes during a call that came in at 5 a.m. that very morning from a woman who was requesting counseling. 

"We also provide diapers, formula," she said. "We help women who just need a place to nurse their children, because a lot of them are homeless, or they live in low-income housing, and they don't feel safe where they are."

Branches Pregnancy Resource Center is "a place that they feel safe," Davis said. 

Operating a pregnancy resource center in Vermont — a state in which the right to an abortion is in the state constitution — comes with additional challenges. (In November 2022, voters approved a proposal that "enshrines reproductive freedom in the Vermont constitution," notes the Center for Reproductive Rights on its website.)

SB37, a state law signed in May 2023, prohibits Davis' center and other pro-life pregnancy resource centers from advertising their services, among other things.

"We're always being labeled or looked at as [if] we're pushing an agenda of forcing people to do something, and that is not true," Davis told Fox News Digital. "They think that we are trying to mislead people and [are] doing things that we don't."

Instead, she said her organization is "just there to help" women who need it, both during and after their pregnancies. "Our motto is, ‘We do life with each other,'" she said. 

Last July, Davis joined a federal lawsuit challenging SB37, something she says is "personal." 

"I was a client," said David, meaning of a pregnancy center.

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"If it wasn't for the pregnancy center, I'd be dead. And now the government in Vermont is trying to shut us down because they have this false narrative that we're misleading, and giving out misleading information, which is so not true at all."

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and two pregnancy care centers in the suit, according to its website.

"Women who become unexpectedly pregnant should be empowered with life-affirming options, emotional support and practical resources," said Julia Payne, legal counsel for ADF, in a statement on the organization's website. 

"Vermont’s law, however, does the opposite — it impedes women’s ability to receive critical services during a difficult time in their lives and suppresses the free-speech rights of faith-based pregnancy centers. Pregnancy centers should be free to serve women and offer the support they need without fear of unjust government punishment."

Fox News Digital reached out to the Vermont governor's office as well as the attorney general's office for comment, but did not immediately receive a response. 

Davis invited anyone from the Vermont government to "come in and look at one of our centers and see what we're doing." She said they're providing much-needed help to women who were just like her at one time.

Davis shared her personal life story during the rally before the March for Life in D.C. 

Addressing the crowd, Davis said that when she was homeless, pregnant and using drugs, "I wanted to die, I wanted my son dead" — feelings that went away, she said, after she contacted a pregnancy resource center. 

The crowd roared as she shared her testimony of choosing life for her baby and accepting Jesus. 

"We are here to help, no matter what," said Davis. "We're here for the babies! We're here to save souls and save lives. God bless you!" 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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