Saturday, June 25, 2011

Catholics and the Baby Business

Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, a Benedictine run Catholic College, broke ground for its on campus pregnancy and aftercare maternity home called Room at the Inn. The Catholic organizers tout it as the first college-based maternity center in the nation.

I read the press release with a chilling reminiscence of another era of Catholic run homes for pregnant girls, the Magdalene Laundries, The Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers' homes. The girls at these homes were forced to raise their children for a year or two and then hand them over for adoption. The lifelong pain and anguish of their experiences is captured in two books, Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v. Wade and Mike Millote's Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland's Baby Export Business.

Yes, it's a different time. And yes, Catholic organizations reach out to those in need; but a Catholic college with a maternity home attached? What gives here? Catholic dogma still forbids sex outside of marriage; labeled a mortal sin. Catholic charities have historically run maternity homes for unwed mothers creating enormous profit centers for the Catholic Church. Those numbers have dwindled severly since Roe v. Wade and, as Catholics would put it, a secularization of society.

The college contends the maternity and aftercare facility will allow girls to continue their education. A noble mission. But what is going to happen to the children and the mothers after the two year period when they leave? Will the babies leave with their birthmothers?

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