Women#039;s clinic to host open house at new location

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 27, 2002

Four years after opening, the Southern Minnesota Women's Center has moved to a larger location.

The center, now called Rachel's Hope, moved from the basement of 706 Oakland Ave. to a house at 808 Oakland Ave. West.

"We needed more room," said Judy Asper, a Rachel's Hope volunteer.

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The center was started in 1998 after some area Baptist churches decided that young women needed a place to go for pregnancy counseling that also incorporated a Christian message.

Since its opening, 230 women have visited the clinic for services, Asper said.

Director Elaine Thon, of St. Ansgar, got involved with the center after she heard about it at First Baptist Church in Austin. She thought it was a good idea because she felt young women were being misinformed about abortion and sex.

"I believed there wasn't enough information. If they knew a baby was in there, they would keep it," she said.

The center offers free pregnancy testing, medical, adoption and prenatal referrals, free baby supplies, spiritual counseling and post-abortion counseling. The clinic receives its pamphlets from medical organizations that have Christian themes.

The clinic does not distribute any forms of birth control because it does not want to encourage sexual activity outside of marriage, Thon said.

All of the workers at Rachel's Hope are volunteers, some of whom have medical backgrounds. A board also oversees operations. The Center is funded by donations, many coming from area churches of all faith backgrounds, not just Baptist, Thon said.

The new name, Rachel's Hope, comes from a passage in the Bible, in which a woman named Rachel becomes upset after she sees that people are aborting their babies, Thon said.

Each patient receives a book with Bible passages to help them make decision or feel better about themselves, Thon said. But the volunteers do not push their Christian message without the women's permission, she said.

"We always ask before praying with them," Thon said. "We don't push them beyond what they want."

Rachel's Hope is planning an open house at its new location from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Anyone interested in the clinic and its services can stop by for coffee, cookies and information, Thon said.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at :mailto:cari.quam@austindailyherald.com