Stephanie Gray

The healing hold of a baby

Stephanie Gray
Stephanie Gray
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February 27, 2013 (Unmaskingchoice.ca) - “I was raped at 16 and had an abortion.”

That’s not what you normally hear from someone you met just a few minutes prior; but I’ve gotten used to it. It seems that almost every time I give a presentation or participate in a pro-life display like the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) or “Choice” Chain, some wounded woman confides in me a horror story of abuse.  And it leads me to believe that sexual abuse is far more rampant than we realize.

I met this most recent woman during our annual pro-life mission trip where we take the GAP (Genocide Awareness Project) display to university campuses in Florida.  She jumped into a conversation I was already having with three other female students—they weren’t pro-life so I was explaining the pro-life position to them.  This fourth female student, I’ll call “Emily,” echoed the sentiments they expressed and seemed agitated, but as I went through the logic of the pro-life perspective, the first three drifted away and it was just Emily and me, who started to “get” the logic and conceded it made sense if the science was right. 

But sometimes something that makes the most sense in our minds can be rejected because of what’s going on in our hearts.  And that’s when she told me.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. 

Our friends over at Justice for All teach that when someone asks about abortion in cases of rape, they’re not so much asking to see if the pre-born are human, but to see if the pro-lifer is human—in other words, do we care about the teenage victim of rape as much as we care about the pre-born victim of abortion?  And so my immediate concern was for her, asking if she had received help and if she was safe, or if the victimizer was still around.

And then I was reminded of our culture of cover-up: It was a relative who raped her; her mom knows but was the one who drove her to the abortion clinic; to this day, years later, her dad doesn’t know any of this happened.  Violated by a relative.  Betrayed by her mother who covered it up.

And now her arms are empty, which I think explained her sudden interest in my little friend Elizabeth.

After we spoke a bit about what happened, Emily said, “I hear you guys have a baby with you.”

Me: “Yes, we have a married couple on our team who brought their 3-month old baby Elizabeth with them.”

Emily: “OH! That’s so cool!  [With great interest] Is she here right now?”

Me: “Yes.  Would you like to see her?”

Emily: [With great excitement] “Really?! Could I?”

Me: “Sure, just come over to the back of the display with me.”

Emily: [Shocked] “Really? Okay! For sure!”

As we walked, I was struck by her fascination and excitement about seeing a baby.  I see them all the time; and hold them often—of course, I am delighted each time, but there was something out of place about Emily’s response; it was as though she had never gotten close to a baby before.  Maybe she didn’t let herself, after the doctor ripped her own from her.

When we got to the back, the fencing was such that she couldn’t get through, so I told her I’d bring Elizabeth to her.  She smiled and waited with excitement.  And when I brought Elizabeth over to her, she smiled with joy. 

“Do you want to hold her?” I asked.  Again, Emily expressed both surprise and delight: “Could I?!”

And so I placed little Elizabeth in her arms and watched as this mother of a dead baby gently, lovingly, and peacefully embraced this living baby.

She had to go to class soon after, but as she left she expressed that she had assumed the pro-lifers with the exhibit were going to yell and be mean, and how grateful she was that we were just the opposite to what she thought.  I was able to tell her about my friend Nicole, who wrote a book about how she was also raped, had an abortion, and regrets the choice she made (even saying it was more difficult to heal from the abortion than the rape).

Nicole once remarked, “I want to encourage those suffering in the aftermath of an abortion that indeed God can help you pick up the pieces of your life again.  He is truly bigger than your pain offering both forgiveness and hope.”

I wish I’d had more time to be with Emily, to hear her grieving heart and tell her more to give her hope.  But our brief encounter reminds me, as John Henry Newman once said, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth.”

That’s the call of each one of us—to be a link in a chain.  There are many links before us, as well as after.  I tried to play my small part, as did Baby Elizabeth (who doesn’t even know the beautiful role she played to impart light and life to Emily).

As Archbishop Oscar Romero once said, “This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.”

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This is the first of several reflections from CCBR’s Genocide Awareness Project Mission Trip 2013.


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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