By Peter Finney Jr.
As Angie Thomas gave Archbishop Gregory Aymond a personal tour of the glistening Woman’s New Life Center on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans on Oct. 26 – located directly across the fence from the regional Planned Parenthood clinic – she pulled out several black-and-white sonogram pictures of her unborn child, 21 weeks in the womb.
“It’s not a pro-life prop – it’s real,” Thomas, the center’s director, said with a beaming smile. “It’s quite a blessing.”
It may have taken 2 1/2 years for the birth of the 5,800-square-foot pro-life clinic, which will house both the Woman’s New Life Center and the Hope Woman’s Clinic, but Thomas said that was light speed considering the challenges the ministry had to overcome.
A pro-life neighbor
Once it became clear that Planned Parenthood would build its mammoth clinic on South Claiborne Avenue, Thomas began searching for nearby property where her organization could offer abortion-minded women a pro-life alternative.
It identified a sliver of land at 4612 South Claiborne, owned by the Maher family and located to the left of the Planned Parenthood site, and eventually raised a total of $2 million for land acquisition, construction and furnishings.
“I knew from the first moment of this project that it would be a very anointed moment in all of our lives,” Thomas told a crowd of supporters in the breezeway below the clinic at the grand opening. “The family who owned this land – four children – had opted out of selling to Planned Parenthood. And when they found out about us, they said, ‘This is what our father would’ve wanted us to do with this land.”
Archbishop spoke up
Thomas thanked Archbishop Aymond for his candid letter to the New Orleans business community that slowed by more than a year the building of the Planned Parenthood clinic. The archbishop published his letter in the Clarion Herald cautioning contractors, architects and other construction trade groups that if they participated in building the Planned Parenthood clinic, they would be participating in the evil performed there.
The Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans currently performs no abortions, but its officials stated their business model included performing abortions in the future. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S.
Thomas also thanked Dr. Susan Caldwell, the medical director of Hope Woman’s Clinic, who joined the staff to offer pro-life women’s health care. Four local contractors – FH Myers, Voekel McWilliams, Ryan Gootee and Landis – collaborated on the construction, Thomas said.
“These are people who normally would be competing on a day-to-day basis, but these four beautiful companies came together and made this happen,” Thomas said.
During fundraising for the new clinic, Thomas said the gruesome, undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials nonchalantly talking about tailoring abortion procedures to increase revenues from fetal body tissue galvanized the pro-life community.
“That was exactly when we started this project,” Thomas said. “Two days ago, they released their 15th video, further showing what Planned Parenthood provides right next door and the gravity of what they’re doing.”
Already serving women
The Woman’s New Life Center had a transitional opening two weeks earlier after moving all of its operations from Metairie, and during that time, Thomas said, at least two abortion-minded women had walked through their doors.
In fact, Thomas said, a secretary from Planned Parenthood walked over to the Woman’s New Life Center and said a woman had left the Planned Parenthood clinic to go next door, and she warned her car would be towed if she didn’t move it.
“I said, ‘I’ll be sure to let her know you said that,’” Thomas said. “She wasn’t towed, but she came over here and we got her help.”
Thomas said another woman who went to the city’s only abortion clinic on General Pershing Street was guided by a pro-life sidewalk counselor to walk five blocks to the Woman’s New Life Center.
“The sidewalk counselor called us and said she was coming over, and minutes later, she was here,” Thomas said. “We’ve been so busy since we’ve been here that it’s a true confirmation we are in the right spot to help women.”
Blessed the center’s chapel
Archbishop Aymond led a brief prayer service and then blessed the building, which includes a Blessed Sacrament chapel on the second floor.
“May this be sacred ground where life is respected and defended, and where those who work here be a sign of Christ’s love and presence,” Archbishop Aymond.
The Woman’s New Life Center provides free professional counseling for women in unplanned pregnancies, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, abortion pill reversals and counseling for past abortions.
Hope Woman’s Clinic, located in the same building, provides well-woman exams, adolescent wellness exams, STI screenings, pro-life fertility care and Natural Family Planning counseling. Medical insurance is accepted.
Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.