2017-09-29 / Community

A Walk for Life to be held Sept. 30

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Pro-life advocates hope to raise money this month and promote awareness around the issue of abortion. A Walk For Life will be held 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 at St. Joseph Church, 178 Elm St. in downtown Biddeford. The two-anda half mile walk will begin and end at the church, and follow Main, Alfred and Elm streets. The walk is organized by the Culture of Life Committee, a subgroup of the Knights of Columbus Biddeford No. 12941, a Catholic fraternal charity organization.

The Culture of Life Committee promotes saving lives in many different forms, but Patricia Frechette, one of the walk’s organizers, said that usually means trying to prevent women from aborting their babies. Last year the group donated an ultrasound machine to ABBA, a women’s resource center in Portland. The machine cost $24,000, which the committee split with Knights of Columbus leaders in Connecticut. Frechette hopes to raise enough money to purchase another ultrasound machine for Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center in Sanford. According to the Knights of Columbus website, as of December 2016, 752 ultrasound machines had been purchased and donated in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Jamaica, Guatemala and Peru. The Knights of Columbus estimated total cost of the machines to be $36 million.

“Over 90 percent of women considering an abortion that see this baby in their womb will decide to have that child,” Frechette said.

Aside from purchasing ultrasound machines, the committee hopes to place a memorial in a local cemetery for the unborn children of abortions and miscarriages. Frechette conducts interviews on public access channel 3 to discuss issues of sex-trafficking and euthanasia. She also leaves literature in the nurses’ offices of Biddeford High School and Thornton Academy to let students dealing with unplanned pregnancies know about options other than what Planned Parenthood offers. Planned Parenthood, which is 101 years old, provides reproductive health care, sex education and information to women and men in the U.S. and internationally.

“The emphasis is on awareness and education,” Frechette said.

Frechette hopes to bring pamphlets to the University of New England as well. The Culture of Life Committee is always seeking new members to help with fundraising, grant writing and advertising. Frechette, who has been with the committee for two years, hopes more young people will join.

“It is what God calls us to do,” she said. “He created us out of love and expects us to honor that creation. Abortion is not something we can look at as a choice. It is a non-negotiable thing. Once you choose to procreate and do so, you have to allow it to happen.”

Frechette takes issue with Planned Parenthood’s claim that it’s a women’s health care organization.

Twenty-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients receive Medicaid, which does not cover abortions unless in cases of rape, incest or the health of the woman, according to Amy Cookson, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She said most women come to Planned Parenthood for birth control, pap smears, cancer screenings or sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. Birth control is the most common of all those services, and is used for many reasons aside from preventing pregnancy, such as regulating periods. Planned Parenthood also has volunteers stationed in waiting rooms ready to talk to anyone in need.

“We had two stories from York County who both talked about how they had come to Planned Parenthood a few years ago who thought they were pregnant and scared. Planned Parenthood was able to talk through their options. They both continued their pregnancies, had children and are back at Planned Parenthood for birth control and regular primary care,” Cookson said.

Planned Parenthood’s approach is affordable care in a non-judgmental place, Cookson said. Planned Parenthood provides pregnancy confirmation services and obstetrics and gynecology referrals for those who wish to continue their pregnancy. Planned Parenthood’s only abortion service office is located in Portland.

“Abortion is part of comprehensive health care,” Cookson said. “It’s important it remains a safe and legal option for a woman to consider if and when she needs it. It’s important to remember we’re not in her shoes and we don’t know what else is going on in her life. It’s not our place to make that decision for someone. Whatever a woman decides, either adoption, ending a pregnancy or raising the child, she needs to make the decision herself with family and the council of her health care provider.”

Anyone interested in registering for the walk can do so at https:// goodshepherdparish.us/events/walkfor life-2017 or email Frechette at frechp@maine.rr.com.

For more information about Planned Parenthood and its services visit https://www.plannedparenthood.org.

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