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New Office of Respect Life supports mothers in need

The following story appeared in the April 28 Idaho Catholic Register.

By Emily Woodham

The Office of Respect Life for the Diocese of Boise has rolled out its new webpage, The site includes “Walking with Moms in Need,” which focuses on resources to support mothers in crisis throughout their pregnancy, birth and beyond.

“The prolife movement has often been characterized as being simply about the welfare of the unborn child,” said Jay Wonacott, director of the Office of Respect Life and the Office of Marriage and Family Life. “The fact is that the prolife movement for years has been pro-woman and pro-mother in offering shelter, services, and healing in the wake of the devastation that abortion has caused in the lives of millions of women and men.”

Last September, Bishop Peter Christensen separated the Office of Respect Life from the Office of the Permanent Diaconate. He then appointed Wonacott as the director.

“Our parishes have strong leaders for Respect Life ministries. I see myself as simply supporting them in the good work they are already doing,” Wonacott said.

Although the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Wonacott said the Church recognizes that its work is not done in safeguarding the sanctity of human life. This includes supporting the mother in need through her pregnancy and in caring for her child. “It is the likes of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers who are anti-woman. They use women and discard them after they have an abortion,” he said.

“Walking with Moms” is a program created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in recognition of the need to support mothers in crisis during pregnancy, birth and childrearing. The “Walking with Moms” resource on the Diocesan Respect Life page includes a QR code to scan with phones to quickly access pregnancy resource centers.

The Diocese is also providing parishes with help to directly support mothers in need through a matching grant. “This opportunity came from a generous, anonymous donor to the Diocese, wanting to see direct access and help from our parishes to women in need facing a crisis pregnancy or care for a newborn,” Wonacott said.

The grant will be used to match a parish contribution for services for a mother up to $500 per parish. Matching donations can come from parish fundraising events or from groups such as the Knights of Columbus. Although parishes must specify the need of the mother they are helping, the Office of Respect Life asks that parishes do not reveal her name, giving her anonymity. Parishes can apply for the matching grant by contacting the Office of Respect Life.

In addition to “Walking with Moms,” the webpage also has resources for abortion pill reversal. Although the abortion pill is outlawed in Idaho, mothers in Idaho can still obtain the abortion pill from other states or online. Women who regret taking the abortion pill can begin a treatment with hormones, under the supervision of a medical professional, to stop the progress of the medication-induced abortion.

The website also addresses the need for help and healing for post-abortive women and others who have been impacted by a woman’s choice to abort a baby.

Holy Apostles hosting symposium on abortion, surrogate motherhood

In addition to website resources, the Office of Respect Life is advocating events presented by parishes.

The next scheduled event is a symposium on abortion and surrogate motherhood at Holy Apostles Parish, 6300 N. Meridian Rd., in Meridian from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Speakers include Dr. Guillermo Guzman an OB/GYN; Megan Wold, an attorney; and Samantha Stephenson.

Dr. Guzman is a physician at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa. His experience includes high-risk pregnancies and deliveries, fetal medicine and postpartum care. His talk will focus on abortion and surrogacy techniques and how those affect the health of the mother.

Wold is a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Cooper & Kirk. She graduated with her law degree from Notre Dame University and served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito from 2014 to 2015. She will explain the legal status of abortion and surrogacy in Idaho. She will also address proposed legislation for 2024.

Stephenson, who holds masters’ degrees in bioethics and theology, is the author of the book, “Reclaiming Motherhood from a Culture Gone Mad.” She will speak on the theological and ethical considerations on surrogacy.

A Q&A session follows each speaker. For more information, contact Michelle Boisvert at 208-861-4621.

The Office of Respect Life is also planning a Mass marking the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. The Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 807 N. Eighth St., in Boise on Saturday, June 24.

Father Caleb Vogel, vicar general of the Diocese, will celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass. A reception following the Mass will be hosted by the St. John’s Respect Life Committee. All Respect Life leaders are welcome to the event. However, seating for the reception is limited to 180. A link to RSVP will be provided on the Office of Respect Life webpage.

A Diocesan Catholic Respect Life Conference is planned for October. The conference will focus on next steps after last year’s Dobbs decision. Look for details in an upcoming Idaho Catholic Register.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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Diocesan Pastoral Center

FAX: (208) 342-0224

1501 S. FEDERAL WAY, SUITE 400, BOISE, ID 83705

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