Faith Matters: Anti-abortion advocate hopes to help others heal _lowres

Kathy Allen state director the Louisiana Black Advocates for Life

Healing after an abortion was a difficult process for Kathy Allen.

“It takes a long time,” said the 54-year-old, who had an abortion at age 19.

But Allen said her relationship with Christ has not only allowed her to heal but enables her to help other women dealing with an abortion or preventing them from making the same “mistake.”

“It’s really been a journey of self-awareness of growth and intimacy in Christ,” she said. “The healing process is one that has taken place over many years.”

Allen is the state director of the Louisiana Black Advocates for Life, an initiative of Louisiana Right To Life. She will be one of the speakers at the fifth annual Benefit Breakfast set for 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 27, at the St. Thomas More Catholic Church Parish Activity Center, 11441 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge.

The keynote speaker will be Dorinda Bordlee, vice president and senior counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, a bioethics law and policy organization that advocates for human rights.

The breakfast event also will feature updates on anti-abortion activities in the Baton Rouge area and the state, and the presentation of the 2015 Joan Dowd Life Achievement Award to Ross and Carolyn McCalip for “decades of service to the protection of unborn children in our community.”

Allen, a resident of Church Point and a native of New Orleans, said she grew up in the Catholic church where she said “abortion is so much a part of our social teachings.”

“I know there are a lot of women out there who feel as if because you’ve had an abortion you’re a horrible person,” she said. “I tell people about how I was a straight-A student and how I went to Catholic schools and Catholic church and I was raised in a good Catholic family. Still, I made a decision based on fear. I want women to understand that those of us who have had abortions are people redeemed by God, that you made a mistake, that you can do something that people consider shameful, but you can still be reconciled to God and resume a holy life. You’re not damaged goods because you made a mistake.”

Throwing herself in her academic pursuits and professional work allowed Allen to deal with the pain of her abortion for many years. She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Orleans and a master’s and doctorate in social policy from Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Allen embraced pregnancy at the age of 45 — even after doctors said her unborn child had a 50 percent chance of having Down syndrome. Her son was born with Down syndrome and also has endured heart surgery but otherwise is now a happy and healthy 8-year-old.

“It really helped me to understand the preciousness of life, that everybody has something to contribute to the world. … The doctors thought it was kind of tragic, and a lot of times people think it’s awful to have a child with developmental delays, but he’s been a great gift to me,” she said. “It really helped me heal from my abortion so many years ago. His birth has really helped bring joy to my heart.”

Allen said that’s part of ending abortions — changing hearts.

“Stopping abortions is not so much about passing laws but of changing people’s hearts and minds,” Allen said. “We want people to understand that killing a baby does not stop poverty or unemployment or any of kind of other problems. But it will only create a problem that’s going to stay with that woman for the rest of her life.”

As head of the Louisiana Black Advocates for Life, Allen works closely with the black community. She said black women accounted for about 6,000 of the nearly 10,000 abortions performed in Louisiana last year.

“We want to try to create information and support networks to give women an alternative to walking into an abortion clinic and ending the lives of their unborn baby,” Allen said.

The black community particularly has difficulty dealing with the stigma of abortion, she said.

“People fear if they publicly reveal that they’ve had an abortion, that they will no longer be welcome in churches and that their church members will shun them,” she said. “Black women traditionally are expected to be strong and be mothers of our children. We have a tradition of taking in children if the mother can’t raise the child. … A black women who has had an abortion is looked upon as woman who doesn’t respect our tradition of black people raising their own children.”

Louisiana has an abortion clinic in New Orleans, two in Baton Rouge and two in the Shreveport-Bossier area, the “abortion capital of the state,” Allen said.

The average cost for an abortion is $450, she said.

“It’s a money maker. It’s an industry that produces $1.2 million or so a year,” Allen said.

Allen works to help women and young people by getting them in Bible studies and support groups and “developing habits and lifestyles that are life-affirming.”

“Ultimately, we want to create a society where abortion is not looked upon as a good option,” she said. “We want women to be supported by such a good faith-filled community of believers that it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to have an abortion.”

Tickets for the Benefit Breakfast are $30 per person or $200 to sponsor a table of eight.

For more information, call Julie Millard at (225) 749-8260.

Continuing education

Nearly 1,000 students representing 81 churches in the area were part of a “historical movement” during last week’s Fourth District Missionary Baptist Association’s Congress of Christian Education at Scotlandville High School, said the Rev. David Thomas, president of the congress.

The five-day conference was for children and adults. It featured 40 courses for adults — as well as a division for pastors, ministers and musicians. Classes included Survey of the Old Testament, Survey of the New Testament, Baptist Doctrine, History or Christianity, Bible Knowledge and the Continuing Role of the African-African Church in America.

“The curriculum is put in place to meet the needs of us as Christians who are striving to grow that we can not only better ourselves but also help our churches,” Thomas said during one of the worship services. “How many of us know that if you want a strong church, you got to have strong members.”

The theme was “Solidarity With The Savior Through His Witness.”

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or by email to trobinson @the advocate.com.