Lauren Castillo grew up as a pro-life supporter, which was no surprise.
She was Catholic and her father was even the deacon of her church. But then in Castillo’s senior year of college, her pro-life philosophy was put to a real-life test when she had an unplanned pregnancy.
“That was a moment I had to say to myself, ‘now you have to walk your talk,’” Castillo said. “It truly rocked my world and made me redefine my relationship with God.”
God continued to test Lauren. She found herself struggling to fit in the desks in her classrooms and few professors took notice. She was already plugged into awareness groups on campus, but she found herself questioning why the university lacked standardized ways to assist a pregnant student. She was told the university handled it on a case-by-case basis.
Lauren’s due date was also her graduation date for her double major, honors program, but God had another plan and her son was born five-and-a-half-weeks premature. This challenge came with a whole new set of barriers.
“I walked into my first pediatrician appointment and they said, ‘you don’t have insurance because your policy doesn’t cover a child, so we can’t see you,’” Castillo said.
She acknowledges these obstacles are even more intense for women who only speak Spanish. The pressures felt from doctors, family members or even the community can be overwhelming.
Castillo, who had done homework while in labor, delivered on a Thursday and was back in class the following week. She was trying to figure out where and when she could nurse and change diapers. She leaned on her mom a lot at this point for help with her son, but her mom was also recovering from Leukemia treatment at the time.
The student mom made it through that challenging time in her life with the grace of God. She went through marriage preparations classes with the Archdiocese of Denver and married her son’s father. Her seven-year-old son now has three younger siblings — the most recent is only a few weeks old.
Castillo never regretted her decision to give her son life and her unplanned and difficult pregnancy strengthened her family and their faith. It also reinvigorated her pro-life support and her passion to help women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Now, Castillo works with 1,250 college and high school campuses — 41 in Colorado— to let expectant moms know: “There are people who will care for you and your baby and there are many organizations and resources that exist to help.”
These resources stretch to communities of all sizes throughout the state and they address some of the cultural barriers for Hispanic women, Castillo said. Organizations and government agencies exist that can help with affordable insurance, housing, bill pay assistance, job placement and food. Lower and no income moms can still have access to high quality OB/GYNs and pediatricians, and these services are not just bi-lingual, they can address cultural differences for pregnant moms in rural Colorado to downtown Denver, Castillo said.
There’s an unfortunate narrative out there that the pro-life community only cares about the unborn child and it’s just not true, said Castillo, Development Director of Students for Life. We see the mom and baby as equal humans needing our help and support, she added.
“The moms need to know there are people and groups who will love them, they need to know they are still loved,” Castillo said. “There is no question these women would be met with love and the help they need.”
That’s why this mom who faced her own unplanned pregnancy is pleading for voters to vote yes on Colorado’s Prop 115 this November.
“Our mission is to make these supportive services known. There should never be reason that seeking late-term abortions is the answer,” Castillo said. “Our moms and pre-born babies deserve better. Our state should do better.”
Respect Life ministries and programs supporting moms, like Castillo, and their unplanned pregnancies are supported by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. Show your support at archden.org/GiveCatholic.