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SMC senior works to support pro-life cause

Megan Loney | Monday, November 23, 2009

Senior Grace Lape, co-president of the Saint Mary’s Right to Life Club, is an advocate for demonstrating support for pregnant women — a cause she witnessed firsthand this summer as an intern with the Expectant Mother Care Frontline Pregnancy Centers in New York City.

Lape said the pro-life cause has been something she was interested in, and when she reached Saint Mary’s, she joined Right to Life.  Halfway through her first year, Lape became vice-president.

Though the club brings awareness to life issues, she said the summer internship was an opportunity to “really do something.”

The pregnancy centers where Lape interned are pro-life and pro-abstinence. They offer support for women who are pregnant by providing emotional and medical services. 

As an intern, Lape’s time during her six-day workweek was divided between counseling at the crisis training centers and sidewalk counseling. 

To her surprise, the sidewalk counseling was the part of the internship she loved the most, Lape said. 

“I talked to women and their husbands or boyfriends outside of the local abortion clinic. I would give post-abortive resources to the women or their significant others, so that they could seek out people who could understand what had happened to them. Sometimes, my job was making sure the women had a ride home after they left the clinic. My job really depended on the women and what they needed,” Lape said.

Lape said her sidewalk counseling experiences were “life changing.”  Being in close proximity to the abortion clinic, and being able to influence women who were planning to have abortions change their minds, made an impact on her, she said.

“Often times, you feel distant form the cause you support because you are unable to experience it first hand, but I was able to have such a direct contact with the situation,” Lape said. “That made the cause become that much more meaningful to me, and much more real.”

Lape said she often did not know the final decisions of many of the women she counseled.

“Sometimes you don’t know if you’ve saved a life or not,” she said. “You can’t keep track.”
However, Lape said sometimes the women would stay in touch.

“There was one 16-year-old girl that I stopped. I literally caught her between the sidewalk and the gate [to the abortion clinic], and I got her to step away,” she said. “She reminded me of my little sister; I knew the abortion would have destroyed her.”

Some of the girls she has counseled continue to send her texts with updates.  There is one text that Lape will never forget, she said.

“I always remember her as being really tragic,” she said. “She told me that she was set on her decision, and she was going to get the abortion. After two months of not talking to her, I received a text from her telling me that she changed her mind, that talking to me helped change her mind.”

The idea she had made a difference in a woman’s life through her counseling is humbling, Lape said.

“It’s humbling to be able to affect someone by doing such a small thing,” she said.  “It’s the women themselves who actually do all the work.”

Her summer internship made Lape realize and appreciate the effects of letting pregnant women know they do have someone to talk to and somewhere to turn for support.

“You hear it all the time,” Lape said. “I saw that women don’t want abortions. Women are forced to get abortions due to situations. If you support these women, you can save the life of the child, but also of the mother.” 

This is the message that has translated into the current Right to Life campaign that is represented by cutouts of pregnant women on Saint Mary’s campus with signs that state “Pregnant?  We support you.”

“In terms of supporting pregnant women, being a supportive friend and classmate to a pregnant peer can make a difference in their lives. There are so many things you can do. 
Abortion is everywhere; our ability to do something about it is just as present,” Lape said.

Lape acknowledges her idea of pro-life may differ from the norm.

“For me, my concept has become maybe more different than other peoples,” Lape said. “When I think about the pro-life movement, I think about the well-being of the mother and the well-being of the child as two sides of the same coin.”

Lape is glad for all of the attention — positive and negative — people have been paying to the current Right to Life campaign.

“I think it is great people are talking about it,” Lape said.  “A lot of people approach pro-life from the same angle. One of the best things we can do is to challenge what the pro-life movement is really about and how we can live out these pro-life values.”