Rita and Milana are both safe after the mother's friend Alex got her in touch with a guest speaker from Silent No More Awareness who happened to be at his school the day his friend had an appointment scheduled at Morgentaler's.

Rita and Milana are both safe after the mother’s friend Alex got her in touch with a guest speaker from Silent No More Awareness who happened to be at his school the day his friend had an appointment scheduled at Morgentaler’s.

Students at a Toronto-area high school experienced a pro-life “miracle,” that they helped make possible, on the day of its first pro-life conference when young woman – a friend of a student at the school – changed her mind about the abortion she was scheduled to have that day.

Toronto Right to Life’s Debbie Fisher recalls last year’s miracle: “I will always believe that God sent all the King’s horses and all the King’s men that day. The highlight was seeing her walk towards me through the empty St. Therese of Lisieux hallway. There she was, Rita and her child, and she came to give me that hour of grace before making her final decision about whether or not to abort her child.”

On May 15, 2012, St. Therese of Lisieux’s Social Justice Council in Richmond Hill held its first pro-life conference: “A Culture of Life,” to promote awareness about abortion. Anita Nassr, staff advisor, noticed her student, Alex, pondering a pro-life poster featuring Pope John Paul II. During class, Nassr learned that Alex’s friend, Rita, was on her way to have an abortion. She quickly told Alex: “Tell her not to do it.” Fisher gave her testimony to Alex and Rita phoned him after she had missed her bus from Eglinton subway station at noon. Later she said she would not have phoned if she hadn’t missed it. The facility was a five minute drive from where she called. Her appointment at the Morgentaler facility was at 12:30pm.

At first Rita refused to listen to his pleas, but the turning point was when Alex said, “there’s a woman here that regrets her abortion.” Rita asked “why?” and decided to listen to what this woman had to say.

On the phone, Fisher asked what she wanted the most and, in tears, Rita replied with a single word: “Support.” Fisher asked for an hour of her time and if she still wanted the abortion, she would be there for her when it was over. Rita wanted support because of her circumstances; she told The Interim: “Not having a cent in my bank account, getting kicked out, and people judging my decision and pushing their choice of abortion down my throat,” all contributed to her feeling that she had to have an abortion.

After speaking with Fisher at the school, she realized what she was about to do and decided that she would keep the child. Everyone gave her their support and became emotional after her decision. Fisher says that without the conference, a child would have died and a mother would be grieving. She notes that St. Therese of Lisieux is the Catholic “saint of the little way” and it was fitting that the miracle manifested itself in such a delicate, but little way.

The child was due in December and Fisher continued her support by taking Rita, then 19, to doctor’s appointments and acting like a second mother. Fisher commented that Rita was afraid of a life change, but said, “if we show Mom that she has value, dignity, and worth, then we’ve shown her love at a time when she feels she doesn’t deserve to be loved.” Rita said she thought she would be a terrible mom because of her irresponsibility, but now thinks abortion is the easiest way to devastate your life.

On October 5, 2012, the school’s Social Justice Council gave Rita a baby shower at school. Students, staff, and alumni stayed after classes on a Friday night eating, playing games, and opening presents. Rita was provided with clothing, supplies, a car seat, a crib, toys, and much more for the baby girl, who she revealed would be named Milana.

December arrived and Rita gave birth early to her 6.8 pound daughter on the afternoon of December 9, 2012 at Sunnybrook Hospital, five minutes from the Morgentaler facility that would have taken her baby’s life. Fisher says this story was rare because even though she was on her way to an appointment for the abortion, she was still looking for a way out and her “silent cry” was heard.

Rita brought Milana to speaking engagements with Fisher. “I think people need to hear about success stories because most don’t realize how much help is available and stories like Rita’s give others in crisis hope,” explained Fisher. People cannot deny the truth when it is placed before them when Rita speaks to audiences.

Rita faced the biggest crowd yet when she gave her testimonial at the 2013 National March for Life on May 9 on Parliament Hill. Before a crowd of 25,000, scared and nervous, she gave her address, “my friend said there was a woman who says she regretted her abortion. Those were the words that made me stop and think about what I was going to do.”

Rita continued, “I was five minutes away from aborting my child. My daughter is five months old today, almost a year to the day I first heard the words: ‘I regret my abortion’ I thank God I’ll never have to say them.”

Rita said she felt special and that her speech at the March had purpose, noting a woman confided in her afterward that she had previously had an abortion.

 Renata Iskander, a Campaign Life Coalition summer intern, is a Grade 12 student at St. Therese of Lisieux High School and was organizer of the school’s 2011 pro-life conference.