It began last spring, the Saturday before the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday.
Entrusting our pregnancy center and our team to God's Mercy, I headed to Los Angeles Pregnancy Services to cover for one of our counselors who couldn't be there. I didn't know God was already providing the graces for one of the most unusual cases we've ever faced.
A young woman named Marjori soon walked into LAPS because she'd found us on Google. She didn't speak English — or Spanish. She was from Brazil and spoke only Portuguese!
While we quickly began to contact our Portuguese-speaking volunteers, we did our best to make her feel welcome and to understand her situation. Many disappointments and painful episodes in her life had led to this desperate decision.
The abortion center where she'd made an appointment quoted her a price for an abortion at four months, but when she arrived they found her baby was closer to five months. They told her the abortion would cost $2,000 more.
Marjori began to search for help on Google and found LAPS, just walking distance from the abortion center. Soon, a Portuguese friend of LAPS, Ana Ormonde, contacted us.
Ana had been on a Divine Mercy retreat and had her phone shut down, but something told her to answer her phone. As she read our request for help, she prayed to Merciful Jesus to give her the words to say to our young mom. When she phoned LAPS, she helped us communicate with Marjori and give her a beautiful, uplifting message of hope in her native tongue.
Ana's kind words helped Marjori to see there was still time to change course, and she agreed to go to Guadalupe Medical Center to have an ultrasound with pro-life physician, Dr. Paddy Baggot.
As she marveled at the sight of her beautiful daughter on the ultrasound screen, Marjori remembered the dreams of being a mother that she'd had while growing up. To allay her fears and concern, Dr. Baggot told her stories and fables with appropriate moral lessons.
Marjori laughed and smiled, and relaxed. She even remembered that as a child she had desired to have a daughter one day. “Anne Marie! She is Anne Marie.” Her fear dissolved in tears of joy. And she began to see that God's Hand had been on her all along, and she wholeheartedly embraced the gift of life.
Back home in Brazil, her family and friends rejoiced at the good news. She even handed the phone to me because a friend of hers wanted to thank us. "When she was here," the friend said, "we did all we could to convince her not to do it. You were able to reach her heart. Thank you!"
Said Marjori: "LAPS saved not only my baby but my life as well. Beyond my life I feel that you saved my soul and my happiness. I would have had an abortion on impulse without much information or advice from anyone."
What especially touched Marjori’s heart was Ana pointing out that “being pregnant means that you already are a mother.” Ana further invited her to consider that her baby had an important mission to fulfill in life.
Beyond intervening in that crucial moment, Ana became like a second mother to Marjori and her fiancé, Adriano. She brought Marjori to all her doctor’s appointments, listened to her fears and addressed her concerns, and even made her personal time and resources available to make sure this young family is safe and has all they need.
Marjori began accompanying Ana to her parish where the priests gladly blessed mom and baby-in-the-womb, whom Marjori made plans to baptize.
On September 8 — the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother — Marjori and Adriano’s much loved and awaited baby, Anne Marie, was born, in a delivery room filled with so much love, led by the kind and attentive Dr. Baggott.
Every day in Los Angeles, dozens, possibly hundreds of mothers face difficult pregnancy situations. In the pro-life apostolate of the Catholic Church, we strive to work together — pregnancy centers, pro-life medical professionals, and faithful parishioners and priests — to provide the love and support that is urgently needed, an effort that speaks of God’s Divine Mercy.
Astrid Bennett is director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services. To reach LAPS or Dr. Paddy Jim Baggot, call (213) 386-2606 or visit www.SaveLABabies.com.