By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY – Two multi-denominational, pro-life prayer vigils are scheduled for March 12 — one at a former abortion clinic in Bossier City and another in Shreveport, which is one of only two remaining clinics still perform abortions in the state.
The goal of the vigils, according to co-organizer Brian Gunter, pastor of First Baptist Church Pollock, is to bring together different denominations and groups from around the state to pray peacefully for all abortions to end in Louisiana.
“My goal is when we get to the Shreveport clinic we would have the sidewalk surrounding the building with a line of people hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder praying,” said Gunter. “We need to pray the Supreme Court will uphold the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. We need to pray God would change the heart of the doctor performing abortions inside the Shreveport clinic. And we need to pray God would cleanse our state of the blight of abortion.”
Chris Davis, director of 40 Days for Life in Shreveport-Bossier, is also an organizer.
The first vigil begins at 10 a.m. at 1505 Doctors Drive in Bossier City, the site of Bossier City Medical Suite. At the completion of the first vigil, the group will travel for a second at 210 Kings Highway in Shreveport, where Hope Medical Group for Women is located.
KSLA-TV in Shreveport reported Saturday a handful of pro-choice demonstrators gathered outside Hope Medical Group for Women, holding up signs containing messages of support for the clinic.
According to a Feb. 26 article in the Los Angeles Times, Hope Medical Group for Women performs the largest number of abortions in Louisiana. The Times reported the clinic’s abortionist does not have hospital admitting privileges and he is nearing retirement age.
The Times also reported the clinic’s administrator Kathaleen Pittman said she did not know how much longer the center would remain open.
“We’re now down to two clinics and two physicians serving approximately 10,000 women across the state,” she said. “It’s just not sustainable.”
Earlier in the month, Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie shut its doors.
On Feb. 25, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported the Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge on Colonial Drive stopped performing abortions and now only gives abortion counseling. Also on that same day, a receptionist who answered the phone at Bossier City Medical Suite said their facility was no longer performing abortions, which Louisiana Right to Life was able to confirm.
Both facilities remain open, offering services but just offer services that do not include abortions.
This leaves just Hope Medical Group for Women and Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans as the only two clinics performing abortions in the state.
Gunter is hopeful when the women who is considering entering Hope Medical Group for Women on Saturday see such a large group praying for them, they will reconsider their decision and not have an abortion.
He added if any woman on Saturday feels led to change her mind, Gunter’s family will adopt her child.
“I can’t do this for every woman and child, but we can do that for at least one,” Gunter said. “In the eight years I have worked with the pro-life movement, the saddest thing I have seen is the regret of the women after having an abortion. It’s not something they look back on and say I did the right thing.
“We want those women who are considering an abortion to know we love them, we are praying for them and there is another option out there other than going through with this procedure,” Gunter added.
As each abortion clinic shuts down in the state, the goal of Gunter and other pro-life advocates is to have an emergency pregnancy care clinic in its place.
Though most metropolitan areas in the state already have an emergency pregnancy care clinic in operation, the Alexandria-Pineville area is currently without such a facility.
Gunter is working to change that face and is hopeful a location in Alexandria or Pineville will be secured by later this year.
Already, First Baptist Pollock has sought advice and help of pro-life advocates in the state, as well as researched requirements to establish this ministry. His congregation also has secured donations from local businesses and a fully-functioning ultrasound machine.
Churches will primarily fund the clinic.
The church hosted a well-attended prayer breakfast on Oct. 24, in which a number of pro-life advocates joined in the cause.
“These women need care and this care at this facility will be free,” Gunter said. “This will cost us a lot as churches but we are going to do it because we care for them. We want them to know there is another way other than abortion.”