Health leaders, parents and their infants gathered on the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade to witness Archbishop José Gomez launch the App for LIFE, a mobile App designed to unite the pro-life community into an online team for prayer and action.
The Jan. 22 press event was held in the chapel at Guadalupe Medical Center in Los Angeles, a pro-life OB/GYN clinic that last year provided medical services to an estimated 360 pregnant women primarily referred from sidewalk counselors and pro-life pregnancy centers.
“Today we are taking a big step to expand our circle of care and concern for unborn children and their mothers,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Through this App we are launching today, we are creating a network of prayer and practical support to help women facing crisis pregnancies.”
Noting that about 220 women end their pregnancy by abortion every day in the greater Los Angeles area, the archbishop said that no woman should ever face her pregnancy feeling like she has no other options.
“With this technology,” commented the archbishop, “we will be able to connect women to medical care and services offered by the nearly 80 crisis pregnancy centers in our region,” among more than 3,000 such pro-life pregnancy help organizations in the nation that includes pregnancy resource centers, pre-natal clinics, maternity homes and adoption agencies.
The archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace partnered with Options United, a Pasadena-based nonprofit, on creation of the App, available for smartphones and iPads by visiting http://archla.org/ouapp. (The link is also on the homepage of the archdiocese: www.la-archdiocese.org.) The App lists pro-life pregnancy centers all across the country and the services they offer, such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and post-abortion healing.
Archbishop Gomez officially launched the App at the press event by sharing it on his Facebook page and asking followers to join the virtual community as well as share the App among their own circle of friends. The interactive App allows users both locally and nationwide to register themselves and affiliate with their favorite pregnancy center, prolife group/organization and church/school.
Astrid Bennett, executive director, Los Angeles Pregnancy Services --- whose counselors have helped more than 3,000 pregnant mothers considering abortion to choose life for their babies since it was founded in 2000 --- said the staff at LAPS is very excited about the new App.
“Families will be able to easily find the help they are looking for, especially when they discover the numerous organizations that surround them: pro-life centers and [agencies] waiting with open arms to help them,” said Bennett. “The App will also help different organizations collaborate and work together to pool resources to help families who need it [and] we also hope the App will maximize the capacity to serve many more families in need.”
Irene Beltran, one of two women who gave post-abortion testimonials, praised the App as a valuable resource for women in a crisis pregnancy. “This is crucial because so many mothers are terrified and are not aware of these pregnancy centers,” said Beltran. “I wish this was available 11 years ago. If I would have known where to turn to, I would have gone there for help. My daughter would be alive today.”
Thomas Rudkins, president of Options United which developed the App in consultation with national and archdiocesan pro-life leaders over an 11-month period, said the App was built as a common platform for the pro-life community, to share information, resources and, particularly, to inspire more people to pray for life.
“We hope this App can bring more visibility, more marketing power and more help to these [pro-life pregnancy] centers and, also, it helps churches become more involved,” said Rudkins. “This App is about prayer and action.”
He explained that the App promotes five different “actions” which users can engage in. “You can pledge [financial donations] for life, pray for life, refer [people to the App or pro-life centers] for life, make a sacrifice for life or volunteer for life,” said Rudkins.
kathleen-domingo, archdiocesan respect life coordinator who has been testing the App for several weeks, told The Tidings that she especially appreciates the App’s real-time push notifications, alerting users to prayers requested by pro-life pregnancy centers on behalf of women in crisis pregnancies.
“I have found the App to be transformative for me and my family,” said Domingo. “Having those notices come in, sometimes 15 to 20 times a day, of women who are making a decision right now about their pregnancy and are in need of prayer right now --- we stop whatever we’re doing.
“It has helped ground me and focused me more on what’s really the purpose of the ministry. This is not an intellectual pursuit; this is not a political fight. This is about women right now who are in need of help, who need resources to make a choice for life and that I, through my prayer, can be doing a positive action to help them get what they need right now.”
Founder of Guadalupe Medical Center, Eduardo Verástegui, star of the 2007 pro-life film “Bella,” told The Tidings that he was excited about the App’s pro-life potential, particularly for the younger generation accustomed to using Apps to access information.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful tool that we all can promote and put out there on our websites and Facebook,” said Verástegui. “I can only imagine how many babies will be saved through this technology. This is where technology meets the defense of the most sacred, which is life.”
Eighteen-year-old Jerome, who cradled his four-and-a-half-month-old son in his arms during the press event, agreed that the new App is a good idea. When his girlfriend became pregnant, he told The Tidings, he searched online to find resource information on teen pregnancy.
Fortunately, information about LAPS came up --- right after the first link for Planned Parenthood. After several visits to LAPS as well as the Guadalupe Medical Center for an ultrasound and pregnancy check-ups, Jerome’s girlfriend decided not to keep her appointment for a late-term abortion, and the happy couple recently celebrated their baby’s 100th day of life.
Jerome said the App will be very helpful, particularly to underage couples in crisis pregnancies. “Knowing that there’s an App where you can look for those [pregnancy centers] and know that those centers are real and not just another gimmick to promote abortion” is a good thing, noted Jerome.
“You feel safe, like there’s some people out there who actually care for you. That’s why we like the fact that you’re no longer alone, you have some way to get support. When you’re in that situation, you think no one’s on your side.”