Centers offer stress-free alternatives for women

Ashley Ridgeway never thought her shopping list would include baby items. Last year Ridgeway, 21, learned she was pregnant.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics an estimated 1.3 million women ages 18 to 24 had children in 2001.

The women who are college students, are faced with what is at many times, a difficult set of options.

Those who decide to keep their children must find a way to cope with the stress and pressures of being a young mother in school.

Some students seek outside help in deciding what do when they learn they are pregnant.

According to Karen Luger, co-manager of the Pregnancy Help and Information Center, the number one concern of these girls is their goals will be interrupted.

“At the center, we offer various services such as free pregnancy testing, counseling options and post-abortion counseling,” Luger said.

“We also offer developmental and childbirth classes such as prenatal care, nutrition, discipline and bonding with your baby.”

“We also have a program called, ‘Earn While You Learn’ where mothers can acquire ‘mommy dollars’ and use them to buy necessities for their child, like diapers, baby food, books, cribs, strollers, car seats, etc.”

A Women’s Pregnancy Center is another organization that provides assistantce to pregnant women.

“Here at the crisis center, we provide girls with short-term peer counseling,” said Cindy Smith, the client services manager for the center.

“The girls learn about every available choice. We teach the facts of everything. And although we are a Christian crisis center, we provide counseling without judging.”

Luger said girls are devastated because they don’t want to be pregnant, and they have a greater vision for life.

“The majority of the girls who come in the center are college students ages 18 to 24,” Smith said. “Most of them don’t want an abortion but see it as their only choice.”

Ridgeway said she believes women have the right to choose whether they want an abortion.

“Whatever you do, let it be your decision,” she said. “And keep your head up because it is not the end of the road. There are programs that can help you and keep your purpose and fulfill what you originally set out to do.”

Khalia Joseph can be reached at