These Four Women Faced Unexpected Pregnancies. Where They Turned for Help Changed Their Lives.

baby toes

“I’m in labor; pardon me,” Courtney says cheerfully, planting herself cross-legged in the armchair next to me.

She’s already been to the hospital, but it won’t admit her until she’s further along. A thin blonde, she is one of four young mothers living together in Borromeo House. The house, surrounded by a white picket fence in a residential part of Arlington, Va., is part of a nonprofit program that shelters girls between the ages of 16 and 22 and their children, who otherwise might be homeless.

Borromeo Housing was founded in 1988 by St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington. During the two-year program, the mothers are required to attend school and learn to save for their futures. It’s one of several free, privately administered resources for women dealing with unplanned pregnancies in the Washington D.C. area.

Pregnancy centers also discourage repeat unplanned pregnancies by providing information on the health risks women may face as a consequence. From 2001 to 2011, the abortion rate in the United States declined by four abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, according to The Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity. The services pregnancy centers provide might help explain that decline.

Nationwide, there are at least 2,000 pregnancy resource centers. And that’s just counting the centers affiliated with the major U.S. networks—Care Net, Heartbeat International and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. The Family Research Center reports that, in 2010, these centers served more than 2.3 million women. This took the efforts of 71,000 volunteers, working for 5,705,000 uncompensated hours.

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