CHARLESTON, S.C. — An old, brick house in Charleston’s Wagener Terrace district stands out from its gentrified neighbors in several ways: It’s 14,000 square feet, built to accommodate around 30 people, and was constructed 90 years ago to provide shelter for pregnant girls.
It still does just that. Pregnant teenagers with few options, often escaping dangerous living situations, come here to stay, give birth at a nearby hospital, and then return to the home to learn how to raise an infant. In recent years, these girls have been as young as 12. They are often victims of sexual abuse.
The building is a vestige of a different era, and the nonprofit home’s mission harkens back to an earlier time, too, when sex outside marriage was more stigmatized and access to birth control and abortion were hard to come by. Charleston has changed in dramatic ways this past century, but the house run by the Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina essentially serves the same purpose — one that may prove increasingly necessary in the post-Roe v. Wade South.
Across the region, the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion could lead to higher numbers of pregnancies among teenagers and may very well affect the demand for maternity homes like the one in Charleston.
Relatively few such maternity …