Crisis pregnancy center opens in Pa.

December 05, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy have Real Alternatives to turn to, a new state-funded crisis pregnancy service promoting options to abortion.

Coordinated through Catholic Charities, the program provides free counseling and a variety of educational and supportive services for income-eligible mothers, fathers and family members of children from conception to 1 year of age.

"There are lots of ways a pregnancy can become a crisis," said Carolyn George, counseling director in the Chambersburg office.

Often, emotional and financial complications of an unplanned pregnancy lead to abortion, but Real Alternatives is set up to give parents "life-giving" choices, George said.


Real Alternatives doesn't limit its program to counseling pregnant teens, George said, though Franklin County ranks in the top 10 counties in the state in ratio of teen pregnancies to population, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Fulton County, historically number one, was ranked second highest in the state this year.

Program counselors also meet with married or separated couples, giving guidance on relationships, parenting, child support and other financial assistance, as well as adoption, George said.

"It fits a variety of different situations. It's not a narrow focus," George said.

The program also provides free pregnancy testing, referrals and networking for food, clothing, housing, and other supplies and services to families through the pregnancy until a year after the baby is born, George said.

"We try to help coordinate everything that will allow them to pull this together," she said.

There are few statistics available on the number of induced abortions in Franklin County since there are no abortion clinics in the area, said Linda Barr, executive director of Pregnancy Ministries Inc. of Chambersburg, which provides services similar to those of Real Alternatives.

Many women go to Hagerstown, Harrisburg and York, Pa., for the procedure, Barr said.

Money was earmarked for the Catholic Charities program under former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey's administration through the state Department of Welfare, George said.

Originally earmarked for women's general health care, including abortion and pregnancy counseling, the program was expanded to fund services for alternatives to abortion, George said.

Real Alternatives is offered free for low- and moderate-income families who apply. Eligibility is determined by calling 1-717-263-3765.

Counseling is available in the Chambersburg office on Philadelphia Avenue, the Waynesboro office on West North Street, or in clients' homes.

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