With abortion law looming, Woman’s New Life Center offers hope
Regardless of the status of legal challenges to the new state law scheduled to take effect Sept. 1 requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, the staff of the Woman’s New Life Center, a pro-life counseling and medical center for women with unplanned pregnancies, is gearing up for an expected increase in women seeking its services.
Angie Thomas, CEO of the Woman’s New Life Center, said the staff at its two locations in Metairie and Baton Rouge have discussed for the past several weeks the impact of the new law on its pro-life work.
Woman’s New Life Center has its offices strategically located next to abortion clinics in Metairie and Baton Rouge. Women seeking an abortion sometimes walk into the pro-life centers.
“We have that happen fairly often, and first, we just want to make sure there is no deception and make sure they are aware of what we offer,” Thomas said. “If it’s clear that they are looking for an abortion, we tell them we don’t provide or refer for abortions, but here’s how we can help.
We are a safe place where they can talk about what’s going on in their life. We want them to give themselves the gift of time.”
Unclear about closures
It still is unclear whether or not any of the state’s five abortion clinics will close as a result of the new law, which mandates that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. There are two abortion clinics in the Shreveport area, and one each in Metairie, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Benjamin Clapper, director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, said he did not think legal challenges to the law would be successful.
“We don’t think they’ll be able to enjoin the law from taking effect,” Clapper said. “And, we believe there’s a high likelihood that abortion facilities will close because they can’t meet these common-sense standards.”
Three abortion clinics – two in the Shreveport area and one in Metairie – and two unnamed doctors filed a federal lawsuit Aug. 23 to block the state law from taking effect. The filing asks the federal court to temporarily block the new restrictions from being enforced. The suit also claims the state, by signing the bill into law 81 days before it was to take effect, did not give doctors the minimum 90 days to go through a process for gaining admitting privileges.
According to the court filings, only one doctor performing abortions has admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Ready to serve women
No matter what happens with the legal challenges, Thomas said, the Woman’s New Life Center will be ready to serve women who walk through its doors.
Woman’s New Life offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling services and case management that helps direct women in unplanned pregnancies to the resources they need to give birth to their baby. About 18 women every week come to the Metairie center for services. Many come in “abortion-minded,” Thomas said.
“Our counselors tell us that the thing they might be stuck on is financial, or it might be the relationship, or lack thereof, with the father of the baby,” Thomas said. “Whatever is the concern, we try to work on that with them.”
Susan Mire, who founded Woman’s New Life Center 12 years ago, said she expects more women to walk in the front door, especially if the abortion clinics in Baton Rouge and Metairie close.
“I would imagine women will show up there to start the process to attain an abortion,” Mire said. “If they walk into our center, there is no deception whatsoever. We explain that that’s not what we offer, but here is what we do offer. These people are in a rush, and they want to go, go, go. We ask them to slow down for a minute and take a deep breath.
Baby often is ‘scapegoated’
“We can offer an ultrasound. That’s a big deal. We have professional counseling available. We can address whatever mental or emotional issues are happening, and that decreases the scapegoating of the unborn baby. In that triangle formed by the mother, the father and the baby, the baby becomes the problem. We want to know what’s going on with the father, what’s going on in the woman’s life. Maybe she’s depressed. If that is addressed well, that lessens the likelihood of an abortion.”
The Woman’s New Life Center in Metairie (3032 Ridgelake Drive, Suite 101) is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center in Baton Rouge (760 Colonial Drive) is open Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Fridays, mirroring the hours of the Delta Women’s Clinic, which performs abortions, next door.
On the side of the Woman’s New Life Center in Metairie is a large billboard-sized poster that looks out onto the parking lot of the abortion clinic. It has three messages: “Trust in your abilities”; “There is another choice”; and “Choose with HOPE.”
“The ‘Choose with HOPE’ is a very important message,” Thomas said. “Every story is unique, and we need to choose with hope. Women going into that abortion clinic are choosing with fear. If there were the slightest bit of hope, she wouldn’t be walking in there. There is another choice.”