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Pro-Life group banned from YMCA

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The Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice showdown is spilling out into the community. One student group says they were banned from the YMCA.

Worn out from a 30-hour bus ride and an all-day visit to the Capitol, students with the group Students for Life of America decided to hit the showers.

They worked out a deal with the Town Lake YMCA to stop by every night between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"We went there without incident Monday night. It was probably 9:30 when we were there. We went in and out everyone took 5 minute showers. All the students were quiet, they were tired," said member Alexa Coombs.

On Tuesday morning, Alexa Coombs got a call from the YMCA saying they were no longer welcome.

Coombs recalls her conversation with YMCA staff, "Everything was fine. We have no problem with you. There were some pro-abortion supporters there who saw you and talked to our staff. The staff even felt threatened, so pretty much these pro-abortion supporters bullied the YMCA."

"We were shocked. It was a Christian founded organization. A lot of our students are Christian, we're pro-life. They should be pro-life too or at least not take a side," said Coombs.

Coombs says the group of 56 was left scrambling to find a place to bathe. St. Dominic's Catholic School in North Austin opened its doors and saved the day.

YMCA staff posted this statement on their website:

"As a volunteer-led nonprofit organization, it is not our intention to inject ourselves into this issue, nor do we take a position on this issue.

We strive to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to all, where people of all backgrounds are comfortable.

That's what we were striving to do in accommodating the Students for Life group who were in need of a place to shower.

Unfortunately, in this instance, it caused the political debate to come into the Y.

If any person or group enters our facilities and creates an atmosphere that is disruptive, we have an obligation to our members and program participants to ask that person or group to leave or to refuse them access.

There are appropriate places in which to conduct a political debate, and that place is down the street at the State Capitol, not at our YMCA. "

The group denies conducting a debate or saying anything other than thank-yous to the staff.

"We were so thankful for the YMCA and their graciousness to open up to us and let us shower and cool off," said Hannah Solem.

YMCA staff, who would only reply to our requests for comment by email, refused to go into detail about what happened.

We asked customers what they thought.

"I feel like they were pushed into a situation where they felt they had to take a side," said Nic Loayza.

"I have my opinion, but I certainly respect your opinion. That's what it's all about...tolerance," said Heather Deatherage.

The YMCA has invited the students to once again shower. Instead of during business hours, staff has asked them to come after hours.

Wednesday afternoon, the group was still undecided.

"This has definitely left a bad taste in our mouth about the YMCA," Coombs said.

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