Brice Griffin

One mother’s journey to forgiveness in Christ after abortion. A Rachel’s Vineyard story.

Brice Griffin
By Brice Griffin
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Read Brice's testimony about her abortion here: My boyfriend paid for the abortion with his band’s AMEX

January 22, 2013 (StandTrue.com) - Many years had passed, and I had confessed many sins, before I finally heard a homily by Father Larry Richards that discussed the true blessing of the sacrament of Confession. At the end of the CD, he went through an examination of conscience. I nearly froze in my steps when he said, “If you’ve had an abortion, confess it—your baby in Heaven is praying for you.” My eyes immediately filled with tears as I went straight home to make a list of things I needed to discuss with my priest.

Chest heaving with sobs in the confessional; I told Father Roux that I had had an abortion 12 years earlier. He smiled kindly, held out a box of tissues, and assured me that the sin would be absolved. However it was clear that I needed more than absolution—I needed healing. Father Roux told me about Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry devoted to helping counsel women who suffer from Post Abortion Syndrome. Did you even know there was a name for what we feel? Because I had no idea, and learning about Rachel’s Vineyard, coupled with the fact that clearly there were enough women suffering silently with me, seemed to lift an enormous burden.

I went home to research Rachel’s Vineyard, and sent a couple of emails to the contacts listed on the website. I slowly started to discuss my experience more openly with my husband. I also became involved in a letter-writing campaign asking corporations to quit supporting Planned Parenthood, America’s largest provider of abortions. Eventually I felt like I had come a long way and that maybe I didn’t need to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat after all.

Practically out of the blue one day, I received an email from the Catholic News Herald asking if they could publish a piece about my efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. I hesitated, wondering if I wanted to wear that scarlet “A”, but ultimately decided that if nothing else, maybe I could recruit more people to my letter-writing campaign. Not long after the article ran in January, I received an email from a complete stranger who also attends the same parish as me and my family. She said that she had suffered silently for years from abortion and wondered if we could meet. My heart lurched. While I was thrilled at the opportunity to help someone, I felt enormously unqualified to do so. When we finally met (and wept), we had decided that we would attend a retreat together. We looked at dates, and decided that sooner was better than later, so we would attend the very next retreat available—a weekend in February in the Savannah diocese.

Knowing myself, I feared that I would get cold feet and cancel at the last minute, so I booked a flight from Charlotte to Savannah. I encouraged my new friend to do the same, but she decided it was best that she drive. In another attempt to keep myself honest, I told Father Roux that I was planning to attend a retreat (nearly a year and a half after his recommendation) so that if he saw me in Mass that weekend it would be obvious that I was too scared to go.

As the date neared, I became more and more hesitant to go. Eventually my friend told me that she didn’t feel ready to re-open her wounds by attending a retreat. My initial reaction was, “well if she’s not going, I’m not going! I only registered to help HER!” How very naïve of me! Finally it was time for me to pack up and head to Savannah. My Mom came to my house to take care of my young son, and asked me how I was holding up. I couldn’t control the tears that came in reply to her question. I hadn’t packed and was already considering holing up in some hotel in Savannah and just resting alone for the entire weekend. But I slowly packed and after much distraction, we left for the airport. I have never spent so much time in the security check point! This was when I was resigned to the fact that I would never arrive at my retreat. But I wasn’t upset. I thought about renting a car and going to Savannah, and I also thought about checking into the Ritz uptown and just taking a break from real life for a couple of days. When I finally got through security, the gate for my flight was closed. As I ran to the counter, the US Airways employee looked at me and said, “Rebecca Griffin?” I was so embarrassed at being so late and somehow he was able to ask the crew to wait for me. Just when I thought I was off the hook!

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I boarded the plane and immediately saw the one vacant seat, which wasn’t mine. I had gone online the night before and paid the extra eight dollars to have a “premium” (or window) seat. But there was an enormous man in the seat I’d paid for. So I asked, “Are you 3B?” To which he said, “No.” The stewardess told me to “just sit down” because we were ready to take off. So I looked at the man and said, “I paid extra for that seat, which is why I asked!” He couldn’t care less, and I was fuming. Over eight dollars. This really is not who I am. (Fortunately I was able to go to Confession during the retreat and the Priest and I had a good laugh over my ridiculous behavior.) But this is how uncomfortable I was about making myself vulnerable in front of a group of strangers about the most disgusting experience of my entire life. I absolutely did not want to go. I tried to read “Forbidden Grief” on the plane, but it was too excruciating, so instead I prayed. I prayed for the man in my seat. I prayed for my aborted child. I prayed for all of the women who might attend the retreat with me. I prayed for women who have been through abortion and don’t know that there is healing available to them. I prayed for every person I could think of, and finally I landed.

Picking up my rental car, the gentleman behind the counter asked where I was heading. I told him, and he said, “Chicken country!” Yeah, that’s what I needed to convince me to go… I was still thinking about a weekend alone in Savannah but decided to trudge forward. On the road, I reached into my purse for my sunglasses and found that one of the hinges had come undone, rendering them useless. Of course. I hadn’t printed an itinerary, so not only was I unsure of where to go, I also didn’t know what time to get there. Of course. I called the only contact number I had and went straight to voice mail. Of course. So I pulled over and had lunch. The chicken was delicious, and I figured, “Of course! I’m in chicken country!” Ugh.

I drove through a couple of very humble towns, still unsure of any landmarks and very sure that I was going the wrong way. When I finally spotted the balloons on the fence that would indicate where I needed to be, I thought I wanted to vomit. My head was killing me. I wanted a posh bed, a bubble bath and a glass of wine. But I found a sweet smiling woman on the porch. I felt like once she spotted me, I couldn’t turn back. I thank God for her.

The team was still preparing for everyone to arrive; I was a couple of hours early. Fortunately that meant I could attend Mass on Friday afternoon. I waited silently in the chapel. The priest walked by and said hello, and asked how I was doing. Involuntarily my eyes turned into waterfalls. He smiled and said, “I know. But you’ll feel better soon. I promise.” I think I cried from my arrival at 4 pm until I went to bed at 11:00. I read the packed schedule thinking that this was immature and that I still might sneak away, but with each exercise I actually felt a little bit better.

The first night, after we had been very well fed, we had our first “Living Scripture” experience. I must admit that when I saw this on the schedule I thought it was nothing less than stupid. Except that it revolved around my favorite piece of scripture: John 8:1-11. “Has no one here condemned you?” “No one, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you.” This was such a revelation for me: of course none of these women would judge me for having an abortion! We were all there to find forgiveness and healing, and none of us would dare judge another one of us. This opened the flood gates and I was finally free to discuss my experience, along with the guilt and shame and regret, with a group who wouldn’t even consider passing judgment. Thank you, Lord!

We were up and going early on Saturday, which is not normal for me. My husband gets up with our children on Saturdays so that I can sleep. When my alarm went off at 6:30, I was startled, but I was also pleasantly surprised at how rested I felt. This might not be so bad. When I walked into the dining room, everyone commented on the “New Brice.” They told me I was not the Brice that was there the night before—bitter, arms crossed, weeping (again, this is not me!). I was a smiling Brice. It was a good start. I felt better already.

Saturday was our opportunity to “tell our story.” Never in my life had I had the opportunity to do this. Why would I? From my parents’ (nasty) divorce when I was five to my present day, it all fell into place. Listening to the stories of all of the other participants (two men included), there was one common thread: each of us came from a broken home.

While I dare not share another woman’s abortion experience, I will share mine. I do not blame them in any way, but my parents divorced when I was five. It was ugly. Custody battles ensued. If I disagreed with whoever I lived with, I would threaten them with moving in with the other. Once the hormones kicked in, I spent several years seeking attention wherever I could get it. Tattoos, booze, boys, bands, whatever. I had no spiritual foundation and certainly no respect for the sanctity of life. So when I found myself knocked up by my rock star boyfriend, I didn’t even flinch when he said, “Well let’s take care of it.” Phew. Of course that’s what we would do. Because he said so. I mean, who else would I turn to? I was young and impressionable and I had the CHOICE to do whatever I wanted.

On Sunday we had a lovely memorial service for our lost children. After naming them, we had the opportunity to write them a letter to tell them anything we might be feeling. Everyone apologized to their child. Everyone begged for forgiveness. Everyone wept.

While I now feel a great sense of peace and healing, in retrospect I am stunned. Disgusted that no one ever told me that there was a child in my womb. Dumbfounded that the abortionist actually made small talk with me (his daughter liked the same bands as me and was going to see our favorite that very night). THE ABORTIONIST WAS THE FATHER OF A GIRL. This kills me today. I pray that she never became pregnant unexpectedly and he aborted his own grandchild. I am horrified that the pro-abortion movement does not acknowledge the damage done to a woman (or a man) when they go through an abortion.

Nothing in this world could ever make me feel like I made the right decision. But attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat helped me to realize so many things: I am not alone; God forgives me because I have contrition; and most importantly, my child forgives me. My little boy is waiting for the moment when I can hold him in my arms and tell him about all of his siblings, and how much we love him, and how I have missed him. Rachel’s Vineyard has given me so much more than healing. It has given me an ability that I never had before, to be able to vocalize exactly why I am adamantly pro-life and why I will raise my kids to be the same. I would never wish this experience upon anyone, and I want the world to understand that there is no such thing as an unwanted child.

Leaving the retreat on Sunday, I was a new woman. Finally, after 13 years, I had closure. I had peace. I felt that my God and my child had forgiven me. I had ten new friends, all of whom had suffered what I had suffered—some of them multiple times—and all of whom were now on the road to recovery.

Not a day passes that I don’t think about my abortion and about how my life would have been different if I had made the other decision. And now, thankfully, not a day goes by when I don’t thank God for Rachel’s Vineyard.

Reprinted with permission from StandTrue.com.


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

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Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
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Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

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On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
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Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

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By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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