Swapping independence for childcare: How an anti-abortion centre is persuading women to give birth

Z'Amora was born in a maternity home billed as an alternative to abortion.

Tucked away in a white clapboard building, in a town called Defiance, is a maternity home billed as an alternative to abortion.

From inside comes the sound of a baby, waking from a nap, and two toddlers bouncing a ball between them.

Light streams through the windows onto piles of toys and books, alongside statues of Mary with an infant Jesus.

The walls of Our Lady's Inn in Missouri, which has been open since 2006, are dotted with religious imagery

There are hand painted prints on the walls urging the building’s inhabitants to 'Live by Faith'. 

This is one of two homes in Missouri run by a charity called Our Lady’s Inn. 

It’s a proudly pro-life organisation, which means its resolutely anti-abortion. 

The motto here is “Rebuilding lives, one mother, one baby, one family at a time”, the mission is to convince reluctant mothers-to-be there is an alternative.

There is no doubt there is plenty of well-funded support on offer, from emergency accommodation and help finding more permanent housing to baby sitting and parenting classes. 

What there isn’t, is choice. 

Programme Director Denise Fondren is a softly spoken woman with a warm smile.

Denise Fondren, a programme director at the clinic, sees abortion as 'evil'

But there is a hardness behind her message.

“If someone calls us and they are considering an abortion, we can give them education” she says. 

Denise insists no woman is coerced here or stigmatised for ending a pregnancy.

But her organisation’s position is clear.

”I see abortion as evil” she sighs.

“‘It’s the woman’s right’, they say.  But life is the unborn foetus’ right”. 

Janetta, now a single mum of two, is one of the women who have called in distress. 

Janetta Perkins contemplated moving into her car before calling the centre for help

She was given an ultrasound and eventually decided to exchange her independence for a safe place to stay.

“I thought we would have to live in my car” she says.

“I was thinking about where we might be able to take a shower and my 5 year old said ‘Mom, we can’t live here.”

Janetta was too far along anyway to consider a termination.

She now has a newborn and not a single regret.

Janetta now has a one-month-old daughter Z'Amora

But she still believes any woman who wants an abortion should have that right.

“It should be a woman’s choice” she insists, shaking her head.

“Our bodies, our choice.” 

But in many parts of America, that choice no longer exists thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in June to end the nationwide right to abortion.

The staff helping Janetta raise her baby are delighted - the procedure is now banned in Missouri, making their job of dissuasion rather easier. 

“I’ve been here 14 years” smiles Denise.

“I can’t put an exact number on it, but a lot of lives how now been saved”.