A Time to Speak — Students take a field trip for life

Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

By Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

As the cars and TARC buses rushed passed Market Street, Ed Harpring’s voice could be heard praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with me, my principal and 40 seniors from Holy Cross High School.

We were standing in front of the abortion clinic in downtown Louisville on Nov. 30. Ed, the pro-life coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville, informed us of the 3,500 abortions performed there each year.

He also gave us hope, explaining that 20 mothers changed their minds during the prayerful 40 Days for Life campaign (last fall) and emphasized that prayer is the most powerful tool at our disposal.

Our students huddled together and recited, “Have Mercy on us and on the whole world.”
That was just the beginning of our first pro-life field trip. Danielle Wiegandt, principal of Holy Cross, said, “We want our students to
understand the plight of a woman with very little resources who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. Our goal for this field trip was to look at this issue with compassionate eyes — it is not to ‘look down’ on those who make the abortion decision; but rather, to help us understand the responsibility we all have in making resources available to women in crisis.”

We boarded the yellow school bus to the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center on West Oak Street. Ellen Wichmann, director of the nonprofit organization, shared with us stories of teens who needed guidance, pregnancy tests and feared telling their parents of their
unplanned pregnancies. We watched an educational video of the choices these pregnant women must face and the realities of abortion, parenting or adoption. Some of our students were moved to tears when they learned of the procedures of surgical abortions.

With heavy hearts, we ventured another stop to hear from Melanie Bishop, an adoption specialist for Catholic Charities’ Pregnancy and Adoption Services. Melanie informed us that only one percent of unplanned pregnancies result in adoption. She explained that adoption is born out of loss — loss of fertility for the adoptive parents and loss of the baby for the birth mom. However, the child has everything to gain. Melanie said it is the most selfless choice ever made, to allow your child to be raised by other parents so that he or she can have a better life.

It was eye-opening to hear that the majority of birth moms are college-age women and only a few in the past decade have been high school-age teens. The ages range from 19 to 42.

In a bit of shock, we traveled to another side of town down by River Road to Life House Maternity Home to meet Joan Smith, its founder.

The maternity home houses a maximum of 12 pregnant women and 12 women who have had their children and are trying to rehabilitate their lives — earning educational degrees or working through job training to prepare to be a single mother. Life House opened its doors in 2008; 56 babies have been born there and six have been adopted. The women can stay up to four years if they follow the program. It is a place to go if the woman wants to change her life and the future of her child.

When we climbed the steps of the yellow school bus for the last time, our minds were overloaded, our hearts were aching and our spirits were filled with hope for life.

Kayla Swearer a Holy Cross senior commented, “During the trip we got to see and learn about all aspects of what women go through when they find out they are pregnant. We learned stories about women struggling with the choice of abortion, whether they choose that path or not. We talked about what they went through after and how it directly affected their lives. It was an overall great learning experience and put perspective on the hard decisions that women struggle with daily when they find out they are pregnant.”

My prayer for my students is that they learn from this experience. If put in the situation they will be armed with knowledge, have stood in the places that can help, have talked to the voices on the other end of the hotline and know that there is aid available and a reason to choose life in a desperate time of need.

Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp teaches theology at Holy Cross High School and blogs at www.faithfilledmom.com.

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