By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

The name is new but the mission of ministering to women who might be considering abortions or even those who are suffering through post-abortive depression has not changed for the Woman’s New Life Clinic, located in Baton Rouge.  

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Kathleen Lee, left, director of the Woman’s New Life Clinic in Baton Rouge, looks over a report with assistant Rebecca Morley. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 

 

Formerly known as the Woman’s New Life Center, the name change better reflects the abundance of services, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling, all at no cost, offered by the clinic, which opened in 2012 next to the Delta Women’s Clinic, one of only three abortion facilities in the state, according to Woman’s New Life Clinic director Kathleen Lee.  

“We just want to open our doors to anybody who needs help,” said Lee, who was hired in December. “There is no judgment, no requirements to come in.”  

Lee, a Baton Rouge native and graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, compared the clinic to a hospital’s emergency room, saying staff members are “right on the front lines.” She explained the clinic offers services for women who might be wavering regarding a potential abortion or facing pressure from friends and family to follow through with the procedure.  

The clinic is staffed with a fulltime nurse and counselor trained to speak with women, couples or even men. She also passionately debunked the charges by some abortion advocates that the clinic is solely focused on preventing abortions, stressing that once a woman has made the decision to choose life she will be granted accessibility to other resources such as housing, jobs and education on how to be a mom. 

“Now that they have chosen life (over abortion) how can we support them through their whole journey?” explained Lee, who earned a theology degree at the University of Holy Cross in New Orleans after transferring from LSU. “We do that, we walk with women throughout their pregnancy and sometimes through multiple pregnancies because it is important to give them options.”  

She noted a critical focus of the clinic is to empower women, adding that a woman might need a little bit of time to understand and weigh all of her options to make an informed decision, as well as be told that they can have the baby and still attend college or pursue a career.  

She admitted the difficulty of the decision but was quick to add many women have successfully navigated such challenges.  

Raising awareness of the pro-life movement as well as what happens at the neighboring Delta clinic is Lee’s priority for Respect Life Month, which is celebrated during October. Referring to numerous conversations she has had in the past, she said many people are unaware of Delta’s existence and that abortions are being performed at the facility.  

Following a special showing of the movie “Unplanned” at the Catholic Life Center earlier this year, Lee said many of those in attendance were left appalled by what they watched. She said several people asked her if the film accurately depicted the abortion procedure and admitted they were not familiar with the horrors of the actual procedure.  

“Delta does not have a website, they don’t advertise because they don’t need to,” she said. “So it’s important to bring awareness that this is going on in our own backyard.”  

Lee said people don’t realize that perhaps the person next to them in the church pew might have had an abortion and is suffering from crippling post-abortive effects, which typically surface 10 to 15 years after the procedure. 

“Not only do we provide for women who are choosing life, who are family-minded, or women in immediate crisis, we also offer post-abortive counseling because they are still trying to wrestle with everything that is going on to justify what they have done to themselves,” Lee said.  

Partnering with 40 Days for Life is also a part of the October campaign as well as offering tours of the clinic, especially to students.
“We need to be able to see the issue, to see what goes on in order to claim it and address it,” she said. “When you see the reality of what happens to women it is easy to remember and to be active.”  

Free accessibility to an ultrasound is also a game-changer for many women considering an abortion, Lee said. 

“When you see the heartbeat, you can’t deny that something is living with you,” she said, adding that the ultrasound has nearly a 50 percent success rate in changing the minds of women who were considering abortions. “We have women come in who are terrified and get a positive (pregnancy) test, and then we take them to the ultrasound. They may still have (the abortion) but they have a picture of their baby to bring with them. For some women it is a case of to take a pause and really consider what the reality of what their decision is.”  

Lee, who said she has been impressed by the outpouring of support from the community and area churches, said the clinic sees about 15 to 20 women a week, with average age from 20 to 22. She added the majority of them are single, but there are some parent-minded couples who come in simply to find out if they are pregnant.  

Lee, who left a teaching career in Kenner to accept the position, said she believes divine intervention led to her hiring.  

“The Lord has put me in the right spot for myself and hopefully in the right spot for this place,” she said. “Hopefully I can be of service to the women, staff, donors and volunteers.”