Precious Children of Portland photo
A young mother gathers with people who are supporting her after she decided against abortion.
Precious Children of Portland photo
A young mother gathers with people who are supporting her after she decided against abortion.
Abortion rights activists sometimes ask pro-lifers if they'd be willing to support these lives they're fighting for.

One Portland group opposing abortion has answered in the affirmative.

The story begins on Oct. 30 of last year. That day, a pro-life contingent was holding vigil outside the new Planned Parenthood center on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard. Everyone was lining up for a photo. But one vigil keeper, Marie d’Ermengard of nearby Holy Rosary Parish, noticed a young woman emerge from the building.

D’Ermengard, a disarming octogenarian who often strikes up conversations with pro-choice demonstrators, spoke briefly to the woman, but then found that a Spanish speaker was needed. Another vigil-keeper stepped forward.

It turned out the 21-year-old, was two months pregnant and afraid. She had an appointment for an abortion in four days.

Bill Diss, a member of Holy Rosary and leader of the protest group called Precious Children of Portland, took the young woman to Mother and Child Education Center, where she spoke on the phone with a Spanish-speaking counselor. Then Diss invited her to share in a potluck meal the pro-lifers had assembled.

"Near the end, she looked more peaceful and less shaky," says Therese Ruesink, a member of The Madeleine Parish and a leader of the vigils.

Diss and Ruesink took the woman to the grocery store and bought her all the supplies she wanted. As they dropped her off at her apartment, Diss told her in makeshift Spanish that Precious Children of Portland would help her through every step of the pregnancy. She has a toddler son already and works in a store near her home.   

The woman was linked to Catholic Charities, which offered support, including pre-natal care at Providence Portland Medical Center. The girl decided she would keep her baby and give birth at Providence. Her due date is June 10.

Volunteers have kept in constant contact, transporting the woman to appointments. On April 2, Holy Rosary Church hosted a baby shower, gathering funds and needed supplies.

People attendded from many other parishes, too, including Ascension, St. Sharbel, Madeleine, Holy Rosary, St. Agatha, Resurrection, Our Lady of the Lake, St. Joseph the Worker, and Holy Rosary.  

"The young mother was so overjoyed," says John DeZell, who has been part of the Planned Parenthood vigils.

"She is truly sweet and humble," says Ruesink, who was asked by the mom to be the godmother. "At the end of the shower, she thanked us and said that we gave her strength and courage, so she could decide to keep her baby."

The presence is continuing at Planned Parenthood though Lent.