April 19, 2006 12:00
Ever wonder why there are no abortion clinics in Lafayette and the Acadiana area? The implications of the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 were daunting at best. In response, a group of some 100 Lafayette Parish physicians signed and published a resolution in a half-page ad on Feb. 9, 1973. "We maintain that life DOES exist before birth," they wrote. "As physicians, we intend to fulfill our commitment to preserve that life. Irrespective of the court's decision, we feel compelled to continue to practice our profession in accordance with our moral beliefs, central to which is the preservation of life."

This core group of doctors along with other professionals, priests and pastors and homemakers organized to educate the public and let the clinics know they were not welcome here in Acadiana. They also established LIFE-LINE to aid women and families in crisis.

I can't help but feel that we were in the company of heroes at the recent Life Honors Banquet. The crowd of more than 250 came to honor the legacy of three Lafayette Parish physicians: Drs. Zerben Bienvenu, Wilton Bergeron, and William "Bill" Smith (posthumously). The Saturday evening event also served as a fund-raiser to benefit the pro-life Desormeaux Foundation, which funds a local crisis pregnancy center.

Drs. Bienvenu and Bergeron shared their early goal of educating the public about what abortion truly is and how they went about helping to establish the political and humanitarian network throughout the state of Louisiana that still exists today. Dr. William I. "Bill" Smith's son, Dr. Jerome Smith, told of growing up amid these stalwarts in the early right to life movement in Acadiana. His tribute to his father was quite moving.

Other heroes mentioned were Dr. Margaret Longo, the Rev. Robert S. King and Msgr. Richard Mouton, Vivian Begnaud, Weston Broussard, John Coleman, Annette Domingue, Diane Dubroc, Hubert Dumesnil, Wayne Frederic, Dud Lastrapes, Charles "Bob" Theriot, and state Rep. Mike Thompson.

We in Lafayette are so fortunate to have had such accomplished leaders in our midst. Thanks to their commitment, a strong pro-life legacy lives on in our community to this day. The 2006 Life Honors event was but a small tribute to all of them.

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