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Published October 30, 2012, 11:35 PM

Plants for Patients: NDSU grad makes planters for post-abortion patients

FARGO – Meg Roberts started Plants for Patients as a way to support post-abortion patients at the Red River Women’s Clinic here. The 24-year-old Fargo woman wanted to combine her interests in art, community involvement and social activism while promoting humanitarianism.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – Meg Roberts started Plants for Patients as a way to support post-abortion patients at the Red River Women’s Clinic here.

The 24-year-old Fargo woman wanted to combine her interests in art, community involvement and social activism while promoting humanitarianism.

What started as a six-week trial for her senior thesis at North Dakota State University recently became an officially state-recognized nonprofit organization.

Roberts, who graduated this past spring, says about 300 patients have taken home handmade ceramic planters since the clinic director gave her the OK in February.

Patients receive a letter with their check-in paperwork explaining the project and giving them the option of taking a plant from the display when they leave.

“Between 65 and 75 percent of women who come in to the clinic take a plant,” Roberts says.

The ceramicist chose succulents to place in the cup-like pots because of their wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Like the women who come to the clinic, she says, they’re similar but different. They may be there for similar reasons, but their circumstances are different.

“For some women, abortion is a relief, and for others, it’s a tragedy,” she says.

Included with the pots are notes from supporters with messages like, “You are loved. You are beautiful. Today might have been a tough day for you, or it might have been a blessing. Just take it easy for a while. Everything will be fine!”

“Most women are astounded by the fact that they’ve got a handwritten card from a complete stranger,” Roberts says.

They’re also given the option to interact with the volunteers afterward with a questionnaire on the nonprofit’s website.

“Overwhelmingly, it’s been really positive for people,” she says.

One woman wrote out her thoughts about the experience, adding a note saying, “I hadn’t actually talked to anyone about this, and in writing out this questionnaire, I really feel like I have talked to someone.”

Roberts says the project is about showing compassion without judgment.

“I think it’s an idea that works in a controversial area, but in and of itself, it’s not controversial at all,” she says.

She made the conscious decision not to label Plants for Patients as either pro-life or pro-choice.

“When it comes down to it, the program is about mentoring these women,” regardless of stance, she says.

However, she does want to encourage conversation about abortion within the clinic setting and elsewhere.

“I hope that our society starts to change the way it’s talked about, because these are life-changing decisions people make, one way or the other,” she says.


How to help

• For more information, go to www.plantsforpatients.com or www.facebook.com/plantsforpatients.

• Donate online using Paypal or send a check to PO Box 385, Fargo, ND 58107.

• Plants for Patients founder Meg Roberts is looking to expand the program to other communities.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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