PULSE Students Hear From Abortion Survivor

Last week, Youth Programs Directors Ashley Gilliam, Abby Rose Bradshaw, Trinity Wicker, and Jacob Tonglet ran
Pulse Leadership Institute at the Timothy Retreat Center. Pulse Leadership Institute started on Monday
Jul 10, 2023 with a Culture of Life talk from the Youth Programs Team. 

On Monday Evening Melissa Ohden (The Abortion Survivors Network), Tara Wicker (LA Black Advocates), and Mike Wicker (LA Black Advocates) were panelists on an impact of abortion panel where each of them described their stories surrounding abortion. Students were in awe over their stories and had many questions for the panelists. It was enlightening for the students to hear from an abortion survivor to understand the humans they are working to protect.  

Tuesday morning was jam packed with information as the Youth Programs Team taught Pro-life Persuasion.  Students were able to practice persuasion methods with their small groups.  Then PLI took their first field trip of the week to go bowling. After bowling, PLI went to the Women’s New Life Clinic where students learned how crisis pregnancy centers help women in need.  Students were treated to seeing a live ultrasound of a baby at 20-weeks gestation. 

Later that evening, PLI headed back to Timothy Retreat Center where students were able to listen to Dr. John Voltz, an OBGYN in Lafayette, describe several real life stories involving hard cases where abortion was never the medical answer. Later in the evening Alex Seghers, Education Director for Louisiana Right to Life, gave a talk about Louisiana abortion law today, specifically medical futility exception and mail-order abortion pills. Many students describe Dr. Voltz and Alex’s talks as their favorite of the week.

Wednesday was a focal point for the week as students were taken to LSU to put their persuasion skills to the test.  Students were sent in pairs with a survey about equal rights and entrusted to start conversations around campus.  Many of the students had productive and compassionate conversations with college students and professors.

After LSU, PLI returned to the Timothy Retreat Center for break out sessions. One session was led by Katie Fabien, who teaches at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, about Fertility Awareness Based Methods. The other break out was led by Charles Songy, a school counselor for Lafayette Parish School System, on suicide prevention.  Following the break out, Amanda Davidson and Stacy Montesono talked about their adoption story.

Stacy adopted Amanda and her other 2 children. Sarah Zagorski Jones, Director of Adoption Education and Communications for Louisiana Right to Life, then gave a talk on Option Hope which details the Adoption and Foster Care Systems.  Later on in the evening OBGYN Dr Angela Parise gave a talk on Holistic Women’s Healthcare. To close out the evening students were treated to a bonfire and smores.

Thursday began with a trip to the Capitol where students were able to learn about the legislative process and then were given an opportunity to share why they were pro-life in a House committee room. Rep Rick Edmonds was present and presided over the testimonial session.  Then, the students celebrated with Rep Edmonds, Louisiana Right to Life, and many supporters over the passage of an adoption tax credit.  PLI then returned to the Timothy Retreat Center for more breakout sessions, one of which was led by Social Worker Quaneisha Browning about Substance Use Disorder Treatment.  

The other breakout was led by Youth Program Directors Abby Rose and Ashley about Social Media.  Next, Bobby Schindler gave a talk about Euthanasia and how his sister Terri Schiavo was mistreated by medical professionals that took her life.  Afterwards, Dr Josef Zalot with the National Catholic Bioethics Center gave a talk about 3rd Party Reproduction and how these methods lead to the destruction of human life. The evening ended with a fun talent show called CoffeeHouse where students got to display their wide range of talents from singing to dancing to cheerleading moves.  Along with the talent portion students competed with their small groups in a skit competition.

Friday began with a panel discussion called “The Prolife Movement and You”.  Panelists included Angie Thomas, who works as a pro-life lawyer; Mason Briggs, youth pastor of Bentley UPC; and Tanya Ory who serves as respect life coordinator at her church.  Students then went to an activism talk based on if they are High School or College aged led by the Youth Programs Team.  PLI concluded with a commissioning ceremony where students got a chance to tell their parents what they learned at PLI and how they will continue to fight for life after camp.