LAND O’ LAKES — In any war, the ultimate outcome pivots by increments on battlefields that may be hundreds of miles and months, if not years, apart. That does not prevent historians, blessed by time and perspective, to rank battles according to their importance.
That said, you don’t need a doctorate in hindsight to appreciate the months since the last frost of 2013 look like the period when supporters of unborn human life saw the odds tilt in their favor, or that the revelatory, clinic-of-horrors trial of Philadelphian Kermit Gosnell, the ghoulish abortion mill doctor — using the term loosely — was the movement’s Gettysburg.
Since Gosnell’s mid-May conviction, four states — Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina — have adopted new restrictions on abortions and clinics, and the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed (assisted by a handful of Democrats) a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Alas, like the chamber’s repeated votes to repeal ‘Obamacare’ (now up to a biblical 40), the bill died in gestation when it reached the Democrat-dominated Senate.
But Gettysburgs are rare, their effects rarely immediately known. (With no one around to tell rebels the die was cast, the Confederacy raged on for another 21 fruitless months.)
Quieter times are reserved for these warriors, these idealists, guided by the notion that there ought to be approximately as much legal protection for unborn humans as there is for bald eagle eggs in the nest (crazy, right?), to carry on the important work of earning converts one day, one unplanned, inconvenient pregnancy at a time.
Once seemingly hopelessly quixotic, little by precious little, defenders of the womb-bound are winning, in such places as the West Pasco Pregnancy Center in New Port Richey, the Pregnancy Care Center of Zephyrhills and, in Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel, at Oasis — A Pregnancy Care Center.
In July, the central Pasco locations — the brainchildren of former IBM executive Peter Castellani — crossed a milestone: 500 families served, and they’re more than a quarter of the way to 600. No, those aren’t McDonald’s numbers, but they’re not bad, given the Land O’ Lakes outpost was six months from its September 2009 grand opening to 100 clients served. Momentum has joined their efforts.
Maria Costa, mother of two sons and wife of a hand surgeon, oversees the sleepier Wesley Chapel operation just across Argerian Way from U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ central Pasco office, bringing fluency in Spanish to a task in which effective communication can be pivotal.
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She came to Oasis as a volunteer a couple of years ago, having been pestered there by a celestial inner voice. Despite her generally satisfying work with other area charities, “At the end of each day,” she says, “it would ask, ‘Have you been fruitful?’ ” Now back to her roots — she ran a pregnancy center in Tampa for a while, convinced that unique humans are formed at the instant of conception — the voice no longer nags, and Costa is on the payroll, getting paid to follow her keenly mapped faith journey.
“A divine appointment,” Castellani says.
Like at other choose-life centers, Oasis counselors lay out the three ways women can take charge of routine, if problematic, pregnancies. Two involve carrying the life inside to term. For women ambivalent about their choices, there’s always the ultrasound machine, the provider of images that dispel 99 percent of the “clump of tissue” fantasy spun by Big Abortion.
Beyond choosing, Oasis teaches fundamental survival skills, from balancing a checkbook to interviewing for a job to making wise housing choices, and supplements information with material goods: diapers, clothes, formula, strollers, toys, books and the like, seeing the parents along until the babe in the womb is a toddler.
Yes, for pro-life boosters, it’s been a heady summer, one that points toward bigger events ahead, one of them the annual Oasis “Legacy of Life” fundraiser, set for Oct. 4 at Idlewild Baptist Church. David Gibbs, who represented Terri Schiavo’s parents before the U.S. Supreme Court, is the featured speaker. More information is available at www.heartsforoasis.org.
Meanwhile, little by precious little, the battle of persuasion progresses.