John Jalsevac

A former Planned Parenthood manager in her own words: Ramona Trevino speaks out

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac

Note: Ramona Trevino’s speech in the video above starts at 8:30 into the video.

August 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When Ramona Trevino was 11 years old, she felt God was calling her to serve Him in a special way – so much so that she told her mother she wanted to become a nun one day.

But less than 20 years later, Ramona found herself managing perhaps one of the least convent-like places you could think of – a Planned Parenthood clinic.

During a lengthy interview with LifeSiteNews.com last week, the 33-year-old mother of four (including the unborn child expected early next year) confessed that her childhood desire to be a nun is only one of many ways that she made for an unusual Planned Parenthood manager.

She says that when she began working for the abortion giant over three years ago, she didn’t believe in abortion, and, even more surprisingly, didn’t even believe in contraception – for herself, that is.

“I had always been personally pro-life,” she says, pointing out that when she became pregnant at the age of 16, the thought of getting an abortion didn’t even cross her mind. Instead she dropped out of school to take care of her child full time.

When it comes to contraception, Ramona says her views were shaped by a CD she picked up during the marriage prep course required by her Catholic diocese – “Contraception: Why Not?” by theologian Janet Smith. 

That CD “opened my eyes a lot about contraception,” she says, “because previously before that I didn’t really know or understand or really know a whole lot about the Catholic teaching on contraception.” 

Catholic, anti-abortion, and a Planned Parenthood manager?

So how does a Catholic mother who is personally against both abortion and contraception start working as a manger at a Planned Parenthood clinic?

In some ways, says Ramona, it was as simple as any job search. Planned Parenthood offered a great job at face value: not only did it have a great salary, but the job was only three days a week, which would allow her to ease back into the workplace after an extended stint as stay-at-home mom.

And even though she didn’t believe in abortion or contraception for herself, she says her attitude at the time was “each to their own.” “I’ve always been kind of confused in the way that I thought,” she admits, “because I felt like if I was ‘pro-life,’ then I was passing judgment.” 

She also says that she feels like she was “jaded” by some of her past experiences and that she justified what she did, because “it was almost like I would rather [Planned Parenthood clients] be on birth control then go abort their baby,” or have a child they wouldn’t take care of.

As well, the friend who recommended the job (who would later undergo her own pro-life conversion and leave her Planned Parenthood post) repeatedly emphasized that the Sherman clinic did not do abortions. 

But Ramona soon found out that just because her clinic didn’t do abortions, she couldn’t avoid her employer’s dirty secret altogether: she was still required to counsel and refer abortion-seeking women to an abortion clinic. 

“The very first time I did my first abortion counseling I went to my office and I cried. It was very hard, very, very hard,” she says. “And I felt so guilty.”

In her approach to counseling, however, Ramona proved once again that she did not fit the Planned Parenthood mold: she insists she never steered any woman towards abortion, and in fact, would regularly refer women to the pro-life pregnancy resource center in town – at least until Planned Parenthood caught on, and told her to stop. 

At the same time, however, she admits with regret that she never tried to stop a woman from getting an abortion, and would give abortion-bound women the referral they sought.

The turning point, and Lila Rose

In looking back over her years at Planned Parenthood, Ramona at times seemed perplexed that it took her so long to pick up and leave (she quit in May of this year). 

One of the things that kept her going, she says, is that she often did feel as if she was doing something worthwhile: on several occasions she and her staff literally saved women’s lives, she says, after they detected nascent and potentially life threatening cancers. 

She also confesses, however, that she was simply “comfortable” with her lifestyle. “And that’s sometimes how the Evil One fools us. He tries to paint a picture of, well, this is good for you, this is a pretty picture, this is all perfect right now. Why do you want to mess with a good thing?”

But eventually, Ramona could no longer ignore the guilt that plagued her. She also says began to question Planned Parenthood’s dedication to its purported mission of helping women after she was continually urged to increase the number of patients her clinic saw, and to increase revenue. 

“That was one of those things where I began to see that they don’t care about these women, they care about money,” she says. “The more women they can pack in the schedule, the more money they can bring in, the more people they can put on birth control and sell birth control to, whatever services we can sell, that’s what they care about.”

Ramona’s complaints about her former employer’s financial priorities have been echoed by Abby Johnson, the director of a Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood who left to become a pro-life activist in 2009.  “Planned Parenthood’s bottom line is numbers,” said Johnson, who called abortion the group’s “primary money-maker.”

This discomfort reached a higher pitch earlier this year, when Lila Rose and Live Action released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood managers helping purported child sex traffickers get abortions and other services for their underage prostitutes.

After those videos were released, a meeting for all the regional Planned Parenthood managers was called. Ramona says she expected the meeting to be about how to spot situations of abuse or sex trafficking – but instead it was all about how to detect if you are being recorded, or are the victim of a sting operation. 

After that meeting, she says, “I kind of remember coming back and telling my co-worker, ‘I’m done. This is it. I’ve got to find something else.’”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back didn’t come until later in the year, during the Christian season of Lent, as well as the first ever 40 Days for Life campaign outside Ramona’s clinic.

Divine Mercy

As Lent approached, Ramona decided to make a renewed effort to go weekly to church, where her attendance had grown spotty, and to read scripture and pray the rosary every day. 

“Just three days into praying the rosary - that was it,” she says. “The blinders came off.”

For months already, Ramona had been listening to Catholic radio, even hearing the first interview with Abby Johnson after she left Planned Parenthood. At around this time Ramona heard that the 40 Days for Life vigil was coming to Sherman.

“I thought, this will be a perfect opportunity to go out … talk with one of the protesters and ask them to pray for me,” she says. “Tell them what’s going on with me. Because at that point I was reaching out for someone - prayers, some kind of guidance, some kind of support.”

And that’s exactly what she did. She spoke with the man who lead the local 40 Days for Life campaign, Gerry, who gave her a copy of Abby Johnson’s book “Unplanned.” He also put her in touch with the national 40 Days for Life campaign team, who offered to pray for her and to give her the support she needed to leave.

And yet, Ramona continued to hesitate, pushing the date for her departure further and further off, scared to give up half her family’s income, and scared to launch out into unknown waters.

But finally, on May 1 of this year, when Catholics celebrated both the feast of Divine Mercy and the beatification of Pope John Paul II, Ramona was sitting in church, and remembers singing the hymn “Lord, when You Came to the Seashore.” 

“And for me the lyrics of that song gave me the answer that I needed - basically, you know, leave everything on the seashore and just come follow Me, and I will take care of you. And that’s what I needed - to just remember that I need to trust God.”

The next day, Ramona called Lauren at the national 40 Days for Life office and told her she was leaving that week.

“That Friday, May 6, I left my letter of resignation on the desk, I made sure everything was in order. Left my keys on the table, and that was it. 

“I never looked back.”

The desire to serve God returns

When asked what her plans are now, Ramona says simply that she has no idea – at least when it comes to the details. She does know, however, that she wants to serve God. 

She says she now looks back on her childhood desire to become a nun as “a whisper” of things to come.

“God was calling me and maybe telling me that there were things ahead of me that were going to be wonderful, and I just didn’t know how to discern that, or didn’t have anybody to really nurture that,” says the Catholic mom. “So, now I feel like God is calling me again, and this time I don’t want to ignore it.”

She doesn’t know exactly what she’s being called to, but believes it’s somewhere in ministry - probably in pro-life ministry, perhaps promoting abstinence and chastity or natural family planning. 

The first step, however, is simply to come forward and to tell her story courageously – not to talk about herself, she says, but to tell the mercy of God, and the valuable work of pro-life activists.

Her story, she says, is about all the people “that are out there fighting for life, the people that are out there that are spending their time and all of their efforts and energy for pro-life, and the people that are at the vigils. I want them to know that their prayers are heard.”

“That’s why I feel that my story is so important,” she concludes, “not because it’s my story, but because it’s their story.

“If anything it’s their story, it’s what they’ve done. And that’s what I really want to share, so that I can glorify God.”


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"It is noble to combat a deadly disease,” Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that “it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the e-mail to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in” the ice bucket challenge,” said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.


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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”


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