In desperation, a Catholic couple planned to have an abortion in early 2020. The couple, who prefer to remain anonymous, drove more than 400 miles to Lovejoy Surgicenter in Portland. There, they met a handful of supportive pro-life advocates who kept peaceful vigil outside the building.

“We spoke with them before they went inside, and they came back out sometime later and said they were afraid, but that they wanted to keep their baby,” said Therese Ruesink, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northeast Portland who organizes the vigils. “The good Lord was really working on their hearts. They decided to take a leap of faith.”

On July 15, 2020, the couple wed, having waited to see if the pandemic would lift for a big ceremony. The baby was born two weeks later and is the apple of his parents’ eyes. Portland-area pro-lifers gave help all along the way, including gas money, tax aid, parenting books and an emotional online baby shower. The mother shed tears of gratitude that day.

“So many people gave so much, and it was just beautiful to see,” Ruesink said. “The couple have not stopped thanking all of us for all these months since the baby was born.”

The pair, who are low-income workers, decided they wanted to return to Portland to thank their friends and benefactors. The Portland crew decided to throw an early first birthday party for the baby hosted at the Tigard home of Deacon Brian Diehm and his wife, Diana.

Guests commented on how the baby looks like his father. The lad showed off his considerable skills at crawling and vocalizing.

The mother said she does not know what they would have done without their Portland friends. At the party, she explained what she was thinking when she went to Lovejoy Surgicenter. She felt too young and stressed and saw no way she and her husband could provide for a child, she said.

The people at the vigil helped her feel stronger, she said.

Lovejoy closed last year, but a doctor has opened a new site in downtown Portland for late-term abortions. Ruesink and others talk to many pedestrians at the busy site, 511 SW 10th Ave.

Vigil keepers say they have saved 123 babies in the Portland area since 2007.