Room at the Inn's future maternity center in Belmont showcased in D.C. forum
'We want (college-aged pregnant women) to look no further than their own campus for help'
Pictured: Room at the Inn's maternity center is under construction on the campus of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont. Construction is set to be finished in February. Room at the Inn is planning to open the facility sometime in the spring following completion of all the necessary licensing. (Mary Beth Worthington, Catholic News Herald)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For years, groups for and against abortion have engaged in an argument that goes something like this: the pro-abortion person asks: "What about the mother?" and the pro-life person responds: "What about the baby?"
According to Sally Winn at Feminists for Life of America, however, the pro-life response is evolving to: "Well, what about the mother?"
Surveys conducted by FFLA, Students for Life of America and Room at the Inn (a pro-life organization based in Charlotte that aids women in need and their children) show that while the pro-abortion argument is often seen as a defense of women's right to make their own choices, resources on college campuses don't provide choices for women: they provide abortion.
According to the RATI study conducted in 2005, 46 percent of abortions are to college-aged women, and while all of those women may not currently be students, the majority has achieved at least some college education. That's in part why RATI is building a maternity center on the campus of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont – seen as the first facility of its kind in the nation.
At the Students for Life of America conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, Debbie Capen, assistant director of RATI, explained the purpose of a maternity center on a college campus and what students can do to increase accessibility to resources and housing for college-aged, pregnant women in need.
"The best thing that students can do is to be vocally pro-life and to be true friends to their pregnant peers," said Capen, during the forum entitled "How to Help Women on Campus & Community After Abortion Ends."
Having faced a crisis pregnancy herself while in college in 1992, Capen explained that she "chose the tragic choice of abortion triggered by the avalanche of fear that I couldn't dig out of."
When she first learned she was pregnant, she desperately called the college health center. Staff there referred her to the yellow pages of the phone book for abortion services. The baby's father gave her $150 and never contacted Capen again.
Perceiving that she had no other option, Capen had the abortion. Her child would have been a freshman in college this year, she said.
"In 2005," Capen explained to the several hundred students who attended her session in Washington, D.C., "Room at the Inn discovered statistics that showed most abortions were among the student population. These were not abortions for economic reasons, but for societal pressure."
Women just don't want to be seen pregnant on campus, Capen said. "The Room at the Inn facility will surround these women with peers in a supportive environment where they can continue the college life and to help pregnant women to accept the unexpected blessings of a child, even on a college campus."
Capen and Winn explained that students can combine activities and outreach by providing resources on their campuses for pregnant and parenting resources – such as diaper changing areas, nursing rooms, daycare facilities and more comfortable desk arrangements.
For students Gabriela Figueroa and Bryan Trach at Indiana University/Perdue University in Indianapolis, Capen's message served as a wake-up call. Although they have a commuter-only campus, they learned through Capen's talk some practical ideas to meet a need they already recognize on their campus.
"I went with a female friend to the health center on campus to pretend pregnancy and discover the resources available," Trach explained. "When we were only given an abortion flyer, we knew we had to do something."
The three pro-life organizations have worked closely together for many years to provide a woman-centered pro-life outreach to combat the pro-abortion message prevalent on college campuses.
For example, former RATI intern Kortney Gordon went on to work at SFLA, the national organization that guides student pro-life organizations around the country. Gordon and another SFLA staff member were killed in a car accident last fall when returning from a pro-life conference; Gordon was pregnant at the time.
"It is an honor for our efforts to be recognized on a national level," Capen said. "Hopefully, these students will follow suit on their own campuses and in their own towns. When abortion ends, we want people to look no further than their own campus for help."
— Mary B. Worthington, correspondent
To learn more about Room at the Inn and its future maternity facility in Belmont, go online to www.rati.org.
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy