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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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White
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Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


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Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

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Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15 requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Two very different ways to respond to Pope Francis’ unrecorded interviews

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By John-Henry Westen

In the last few weeks another series of interviews with Pope Francis surfaced and have again left many Catholics scratching their heads.  Headlines all over the world had the Pope saying that two percent of priests are pedophiles, but is that what he said?  Even though the Vatican spokesman did issue a clarification, that question and others remain unanswered.

Critical reactions to these interviews have been interesting not even so much for their contents as from whom they arise.  These are the observations of some of the most faithful Catholic Church watchers today.  The folks pointing out these concerns are not, as many would assume, ‘“far right-wing-holier-than-the-Pope” types, but mainstream Catholics known for their loyalty to Pope Francis.

Phillip Lawler is the founder of Catholic World News, the first Catholic news service operating on the Internet. In part of his criticism of the most recent interview, he states: “Why was Pope Francis speaking with Scalfari without having first established clear ground rules for the conversation—rules that would certainly include recording and verification of any quotes?”

(To comprehend the situation accurately it is necessary to have an understanding of the man whom the Pope has allowed to interview him.  Eugenio Scalfari is relatively unknown in the West even after the fanfare of his papal interviews. LifeSiteNews has produced this piece to assist that understanding.)

Lawler recalls: “Back in October the Vatican had been embarrassed by an ‘interview’ in which [Scalfari’s] reconstructed quotes caused an uproar, and the Vatican press office was forced to issue an awkward ‘clarification’ which only added to the confusion.”

In addition to that clarification of the October Scalfari interview, the confusion and uproar got so bad that the Vatican removed the interview from their website, where they had it posted in the section containing the Pope’s speeches. Interestingly, that interview resurfaced two weeks ago on the Vatican website only to be removed again after a new round of criticism.

A blogger at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register offered an observation similar to Lawler’s but with a little more bite. Pat Archbold writes, “The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.” Archbold advises his readers with characteristic sarcasm, “So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews.”

A second unrecorded conversation with the Pope makes news

Another write-up of an encounter with Pope Francis also caused a stir.  Brian Stiller, an Evangelical leader from Toronto was part of a delegation of Evangelical Christians who met with Pope Francis earlier this month. In his July 9 account, Stiller puts in quotes this statement he attributes to the Pope: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

That led noted priest-blogger Father Dwight Longenecker to first caution that the quotes are “Brian Stiller’s memory of the conversation.” 

Then with the caveat of not actually knowing the whole conversation, Fr. Longenecker says “it would not be unusual for a Catholic priest of Pope Francis’ generation to feel that way.”  He explains that he has “heard from numerous convert clergy over the years who said when they went to their local Catholic priest and expressed the wish to become Catholic the priest told them it wasn’t necessary and that they could do much more good to Christ’s kingdom and the Catholic church by staying where they were and evangelizing within their own denomination.”

“Now this strikes me as rather troublesome on several levels,” says Longenecker. He notes he had himself once used that line with a Protestant friend, to which his friend replied, “You don’t want to convert me? Why not? I don’t have much respect for your religion if you think so little of it that you don’t want me to share it!”

“He basically called me out on what was a little lie on my part. I wanted to be nice to him [so] I said I didn’t want to convert him. He said our discussion would be much better if I admitted that I did want him to become Catholic. He was right. I did. I still do.”

Inside the Vatican

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin has reported that unnamed “Vatican officials are uneasy and perplexed” about the interview. Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002 and has since covered the pope for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

“The officials’ discomfort also extends to the Pope’s spontaneous telephone calls to strangers, a couple of which implied he deviated from Church teaching but, being private and unrecorded conversations, are difficult to verify,” he wrote for Newsmax.

From the outset of the Francis pontificate, there were these unrecorded and yet published interviews – the first was from a meeting with Latin American religious leaders in June 2013.  That was the one that had Pope Francis speaking of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and also about being concerned about Catholics who would count rosaries to offer prayer bouquets.

At the time LifeSiteNews published nothing on that first unrecorded interview even though almost all other news services did.  Shortly thereafter I was at the Vatican inquiring about that unrecorded but reported-on encounter and was assured by various Vatican insiders that the communication was not accidental but intended – to me at the time a rather startling revelation.

But that same assessment came later from another Vatican quarter, a man who speaks German as does the pope and also shares the pope’s religious order.  “Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” said Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio in a May interview with The Atlantic. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Two different ways to respond

One of the most disturbing outcomes of these ‘interviews’ is that the words and interpretations of what is being said by the Pope, while they may be clear for the German Jesuit, are remarkably unclear for the vast majority of Catholics.  Catholics who know well their faith, its moral teachings, and the reason for them are few and far between. They are able to discern that the Pope cannot mean to undermine Church teaching; that those teachings are unchangeable.

But most people are taken in by the media’s false interpretation that ‘who am I to judge’ involves a new acceptance of homosexuality; the false possibility for legitimately-married Catholics to divorce and remarry outside the Church and still receive Communion; the idea that the Church should quiet down on her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage.”  All of those false conclusions were drawn from previous Francis interviews.

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There are two ways forward for faithful Catholics in such a situation.  One way – a way that is most tempting - was recently recognized as a growing tendency by blogger Father Ray Blake. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said.  “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

In leading up to that observation, Blake noted that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.”  He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

However, Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. According to Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.”

He told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues.  He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.


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