Side by side: Chapel and abortion clinic are unlikely neighbors

While abortion and abortion rights recently have been the focus of high-profile cases in state and federal courts, the issues are being played out in a different manner in a suburban office complex.
by Carla Hinton Published: November 2, 2013

— A Roman Catholic chapel and an abortion clinic are neighbors in this suburban city.

The location of Holy Innocents Chapel is intentional, said the Rev. Price Oswalt its pastor.

The chapel opened in March at 6114 NW 63, next door to Outpatient Services for Women in a small office complex.

Oswalt, 52, and longtime anti-abortion advocate Debby Krisch, 62, said the chapel provides a year-round place of prayer for anti-abortion advocates.

“My goal was to put the ultimate good — God — next to the ultimate evil, because it is the destruction of human life,” Oswalt said.

Despite Oswalt's strong words to a reporter, the clinic's office manager, who only gave her first name as “Telena,” said there have been no problems between the chapel attendees and clinic employees and clients thus far.

“We're fortunate. They're not yelling or yelling ugly things,” Telena said. “Most of the protesters are friendly. They know us by name, and we know them by name.”

Does she think the chapel and the anti-abortion advocates who talk to the clinic's clients are intimidating?

“Some women are annoyed by it, but I think they've made their decision by the time they get here. They've thought it through and are making it for a particular reason,” Telena said.

Krisch believes otherwise.

She said the chapel volunteers are keeping a count of the women and couples who they say have decided against terminating a pregnancy after talking with volunteers.

She said before the chapel opened in March, anti-abortion volunteers who kept vigil at the clinic reported one baby a month had been “saved” from abortion. She said about 20 have been saved since Holy Innocents opened in the office complex.

Among that number are two couples who were headed for the clinic but mistakenly entered the chapel instead, she said.

‘Life and death'

Oswalt and Krisch use terms that some might find extreme when they talk about the chapel and its neighbor.

Oswalt pitches the relationship as God and the “ultimate good” versus the “the ultimate evil, because it is the destruction of human life.”

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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