Young people give pro-life movement urgency

Peter Finney Jr.    Angie Saponara Thomas, then a third-year student at Loyola University Law School, remembers the day she took a final exam in Louisiana Civil Procedure and transformed herself into the Evelyn Wood of speedwriting.
    Thomas’ mother had told her of a high school student who had confided in her that she was planning to go to the Metairie abortion clinic later in the day. Angie, a 1997 graduate of Archbishop Chapelle High School, felt a desperate need to race to the clinic and try to convince her to keep her baby.
    But there was this little problem of the final exam – filled with essay questions.
    “I was very much uninterested in that, but God totally provided for me – true to the Chapelle motto of ‘God will provide,’” Thomas said. “I finished the final exam in an hour and ran over there. It was so ‘of God.’”
    Let the record show that Thomas, now the mother of three girls, ages 6, 4 and seven months, got an A on the test. And, she also got the “bonus” question – driving quickly to Metairie to get to the sidewalk just in time to see the student walking toward the clinic entrance.
    “I went out there to pray, and the girl actually recognized me because I look a lot like my mom,” Thomas said. “She came over and talked to me. She told me her mother was forcing her to have an abortion. And, here I was, a voice of reason. She ended up leaving the abortion clinic.”
     Thomas, 32, long had harbored a desire to be an attorney who focused on pro-life causes, and she is living out her dream today as the chief executive officer of the Woman’s New Life Center – a resource center for pregnant women located directly across the parking lot where she first pleaded with that teenager to save the life of her unborn child.
    Thomas remembers her heart stirring about pro-life issues at Chapelle, when a class discussion turned to how Christians could deal with difficult challenges in life such as cancer.
    “One of the girls raised her hand and  asked, ‘What if God sent the cure for cancer to a baby, but that baby was aborted?’” Thomas said. “That was so profound for me. That was one seed. Later on in college (at LSU) when I was discerning what I wanted to do in life, I began to become passionate with pro-life ministry. Then, my sister had a baby, and I was able to follow her on her journey. That fueled my passion.”
    In law school, Thomas started out volunteering for Susan Mire at the Woman’s New Life Center and with Dorinda Bordlee at the Bioethics Defense Fund. After two years at the Woman’s New Life Center, Mire asked her to join the board, and she later joined the staff as assistant director and then director.
    Ironically, one of the common threads Thomas has seen while studying the abortion culture up close is the lack of “choice” so often experienced by women with unplanned pregnancies.
    “The first thought that comes to me is they are feeling hopeless,” Thomas said. “That’s really been our role – to give them hope. How can we physically, emotionally and spiritually give them hope? So many of these women feel coerced into an abortion. That flies in the face of so-called ‘choice’ and ‘being empowered,’ which is what the other side plays it out to be. In reality, it’s not like that.”
    Changing hearts, especially of young people, is beginning to bear fruit, Thomas said. A group of 15 teenagers from a Mississippi youth group came to the center recently, and Thomas gave them a tour and coordinated a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the center’s chapel.
    “Their youth director happened to be eight months pregnant,” Thomas said. “She was comfortable with us doing an ultrasound. My goodness, it was just beautiful. There was such a resoundingly positive response from the young people seeing the ultrasound of a person they knew.”
    Just a thought: How moving would it be to really take that show on the road? Can you imagine the impact of gathering an entire high school in its gym and showing a live ultrasound on a large TV screen?
    What are you going to believe, a tired platitude (“it’s a choice”) or your eyes (“it’s a living, breathing, kicking human”)?  
    “That would be powerful,” Thomas said. “I am so encouraged by our younger generation. The younger generation is kind of putting its foot down and saying, ‘We are stopping (this) here.’”
    The eyes have it.
    The Woman’s New Life Center will hold its annual Fais Do Do Nov. 4 at Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive, New Orleans. Call 496-0212 for ticket information.
    Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org.
   

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