Coming soon: Planned Parenthood’s competition
It is a narrow sliver of land – 50 by 120 feet – directly to the left of Planned Parenthood’s mammoth regional abortion clinic rising from the ground on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans.
But for Angie Thomas, director of the Woman’s New Life Center, the new $1.8 million Hope Woman’s Clinic
will stand in stark, pro-life contrast to the facility next door.
Thomas said the Woman’s New Life Center has launched a fund-raising campaign to build the new facility – a full-service women’s health clinic – and she hopes the financing will be in place by the end of the year to begin construction at 4612 South Claiborne Ave.
“We want to be a voice of hope and light for women,” Thomas said.
The project began to fall into place when the Woman’s New Life Center hired Dr. Susan Caldwell earlier this year to staff Hope Woman’s Clinic, located next to the abortion clinic on Ridgelake Drive in Metairie. Caldwell is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. Her salary is being underwritten through a grant from the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Full scope of women’s care
Hope Woman’s Clinic in Metairie offers a “full scope of women’s health care,” Thomas said, including well-woman exams, testing for sexually transmitted infections, NaPro technology to help women with infertility problems, crisis pregnancy counseling and post-abortion counseling.
When Planned Parenthood announced its plans two years ago to build a regional abortion facility on South Claiborne Avenue, Thomas said the Woman’s New Life Center’s board of directors began to investigate if it could open a pro-life women’s clinic close by.
The plot of vacant land that was available for sale – to the left of the Planned Parenthood facility – had been used by pro- life advocates for their rallies and prayer services over the last two years.
The owners of the property – the siblings of the late Dr. Fred Maher, a Catholic orthopedic surgeon – previously had rebuffed offers to sell the land to Planned Parenthood.
“I think Planned Parenthood had approached my brother, and they said they didn’t do any abortions – they just helped people,” said Anne Batt, Maher’s daughter. “We just felt it wasn’t right. We just didn’t want our dad to be remembered like that.”
Batt said her father, a former parishioner of St. Pius X Church in New Orleans, would be thrilled by their decision to sell the land for the purpose of constructing a pro-life women’s clinic.
“We are just delighted,” she said.
Thomas said a private donor came forward to purchase the property in June at a cost of $167,000.
Well-located for transit
Thomas said the 4,500-square-foot, two-story facility is in a great location as a safe haven for women in crisis pregnancies. It is easily accessible by public transportation and very close to Loyola and Tulane universities.
“The women can’t miss us,” she said. “They will see this as a ray of hope before they walk in. All of this is amazing. We got the funds to hire the doctor, we got the doctor and now we have this land. I think people just realize that the Holy Spirit is at work in this because we couldn’t have
planned it this way. I’m just sitting back in awe watching the Holy Spirit at work.”
Thomas hopes to be able to bring women to the clinic before they become clients of Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood’s strategy has been to provide health care to women, and if they become their providers of contraception and then the women show up at Planned Parenthood with a crisis pregnancy, they can offer them abortion,” Thomas said. “Our strategy is to provide health care with no strings attached. We want to be able to truly provide these women with women’s health services and hopefully become their provider. They can come to us for all their needs. If they do find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy or find themselves infertile, we have services to meet the needs of every woman at every stage of their lives.”
Quick action needed
Thomas said the fund-raising timeline is ambitious, but she believes donors are lining up in part because of the gruesome, undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood administrators talking casually about selling aborted baby parts and tailoring surgical procedures to produce better “specimens” for research.
“I truly believe that these videos are waking people up to the reality that we have known to be true for our 15 years of being in this ministry,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen the face of abortion. We’ve worked with abortion clinic workers. We know the ugliness that goes on next door. And it’s much bigger than what most people think abortion is. People are coming out of the woodwork wanting to support us because they want to do something tangible. They want to stand up against Planned Parenthood and what Planned Parenthood stands for.”
As for arguments made by some Planned Parenthood supporters that the videos were selectively edited, Thomas said: “You can’t lie about images that you see on the screen of baby parts.”
Thomas said the Woman’s New Life Center plans to keep its women’s clinic in operation in Metairie as long as there are abortions taking place at the Ridgelake facility next door.
The Hope Woman’s Clinic was a longtime dream of Susan Mire, who founded the Woman’s New Life Center 15 years ago, Thomas said.
“From Day One, Susan had a bigger vision of women’s health care and having a doctor available,” Thomas said. “We’ve been talking about this for years, but it’s all in the Lord’s timing. To see it all come together in this way at this time in history, when Planned Parenthood has never been hit like this before with these videos is an absolute joy. So many people are willing to say yes to this calling.”
For more information about the fund-raising campaign, call the Woman’s New Life Center at 831-3117 or go to womansnewlife.com.