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.”

Click "like" if you want to end abortion!

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


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Rebekah O’Brien

Watch: Family of 12 children blows away judges on America’s Got Talent

Rebekah O’Brien
By Rebekah O'Brien

Twenty years ago, he was devastated by the loss of his 6 youngest siblings in a horrific car crash. Now Toby Willis is the father of 12 phenomenally talented children, who recently stunned judges with their performance on NBC's America's Got Talent. 

Check out their performance here:

Willis is a man who didn't let the horror of his past define his future. He didn't let fear govern his life. Instead, he and his wife, Brenda devoted their lives to their children, who range from a beautiful 21-year-old all the way down to an adorable 3-year-old. Every child is incredibly gifted. And they have completely captured hearts across America. 

These 14 individuals remind us that no matter what, life is worth living, and living to the fullest.

Read more about the Willis Clan here


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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Bishops: As world watches soccer, Mid-East Christians being slaughtered

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

I'll be honest: I don't understand why soccer has so many fans. However, as my Facebook News Feed has been inundated with other people who seem to love the sport, I've accepted that I must suffer until Sunday evening before I get a four-year break. I've even watched a couple of hours to try and understand the game, only to return to mocking it on Facebook.

If only my friends and I -- a microcosm of the American and developed world's population -- spent a fraction of this time paying attention to some real battles going on, with real consequences for millions of Middle Eastern Christians. 

From Rorate Caeli's blog, a wake-up from two bishops. First, in Syria and Iraq:

It was unclear whether Syrian troops, who apparently advanced in and around the northern city of Aleppo on Monday, July 7, would be able to halt the ISIL fighters. Yet, most Christians have already been forced to flee Syria and Iraq, where the head of the Chaldean-Catholic Church, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, fears Christian life will eventually come to an end in the region.
"In ten years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left" in Iraq, he said in a statement released by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need and obtained by BosNewsLife. "Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within ten years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps four to five hundred thousand faithful," he added.

The bishop begged from attention from Western states who he said "find football" in the current World Cup "more interesting than the situation here or in Syria."

And now Cardinal Barbarin, the Primate of the Gauls:

"The eradication of religious minorities is not, alas, a collateral damage of the insane strategy of the murderers: it is their declared goal," says Cardinal Barbarin. And he adds, "Because these are men who are being murdered, in silence, between two waves of a Brazilian soccer stadium," he insists by evoking the global enthusiasm for the football world cup.

Are there tangible, real benefits to the World Cup besides the occasional scoring of goals? Absolutely. It's what the entire concept of the Olympics is based around. But as American Christians continue to be sucked into a shallow world of sports, celebrity scandals, and political memes, we ignore where critical battles for peace and justice exist -- in the Middle East, and other regions of the world, where, to quote the Boston Globe's John Allen, "Christians...find themselves in a literal firing line."

Recently, my parish had a collection to help provide funds to Middle Eastern Christians. I'm ashamed that, despite being a professional reporter, blogger, and general politico, I knew so little about the situation that I shrugged off the chance to offer some financial assistance to Christians who are modern martyrs for the faith.

If only I was alone in my ignorance. Alas, I'm not -- and while Facebook memes about popes and soccer abound, the Middle East crisis will continue to go unnoticed.


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The suit alleges that Planed Parenthood performed the abortion on R.Z., and immediately returned her directly into the hands of her abuser. Shutterstock
Operation Rescue staff

Planned Parenthood performed abortion on teen, returned her to sex abuser: shock lawsuit

Operation Rescue staff
By Operation Rescue staff

Planned Parenthood faces a legal challenge in Colorado after Cary Smith, of Federal Heights, says she discovered that clinic staff failed to inquire or report about suspected sexual abuse of her 13-year-old daughter after giving her an abortion.

It was any mother’s nightmare.

According to the lawsuit filed on June 20, 2014, Cary’s daughter, R.Z., was only about six years old when her new step-father, Timothy David Smith, began to sexually abuse her. At this age, she was too young to realize that her step-father’s inordinate attention was actually a crime.

Little R.Z. turned seven, then eight. The years went by, and the abuse continued. But Cary Smith never knew.

The abuse eventually became both verbal and physical as well, with R.Z.'s step-father even threatening to take her life. Timothy’s verbal and physical abuse soon extended to Cary, even when R.Z. was present.

Then it happened. R.Z. got pregnant. 

On May 3, 2012, Timothy transported his 13-year-old step-daughter to Planned Parenthood in Denver, Colorado, for an abortion appointment that Timothy had forced R.Z. to schedule.

Planned Parenthood staff met R.Z. and her step-father and gave them the necessary paperwork. R.Z. filled out her date of birth and signed a few forms, but Timothy completed all the rest. R.Z. never read these documents.

According to the suit, throughout the visit, four staff members spoke with and observed R.Z. and her step-father. All of them had opportunity to see that R.Z.’s birth date indicated she was only 13—well below the age of consent. Yet, the suit says that none of them asked R.Z. about their relationship and none of them asked why their last names were different. As well, none asked about potential sex abuse, and none of them reported anything to the state.

After the abortion, R.Z. walked back out to the parking lot, got into her step-father’s car, and went back home. And the abuse continued.

Two months later, on July 18, 2012, Timothy was outside of the home, and Cary was left alone with her daughter. R.Z. took the opportunity to tell her mom that her own step-father was sexually abusing her, and had been doing so for years.

Cary took the 13-year-old to the hospital and immediately reported the abuse. She contacted Planned Parenthood for her daughter’s medical records, and discovered that her husband had arranged for a secret abortion for R.Z. earlier that year.

Timothy Smith was arrested and charged with multiple counts of felony sex abuse, and pled guilty to two counts in late 2012.

But Cary was not content. Although R.Z.’s abuser was now behind bars, the system hadn’t worked.

The first medical professionals who had seen R.Z.—the four Planned Parenthood staff members—must have known that her daughter was a potential victim of sexual abuse. These were professionals who had the information to do something. They had opportunity to ask R.Z. before her mother even knew.

And they had the responsibility to act—to report suspected child sex abuse—under Colorado law.

But, according to the lawsuit, these professionals did nothing. Worse, they performed a dangerous, legally-restricted procedure on a minor child, without informing her mother, and turned R.Z. back over to her rapist following the abortion.

Cary maintains that defendants’ negligence “created an unreasonable risk of physical harm” to her daughter. Cary is now suing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for five claims for relief, including negligence, negligent affliction of emotional distress, and extreme and outrageous conduct.

“We applaud Cary Smith for her brave stand to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their crime against her daughter,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “This lawsuit is another indication that Planned Parenthood is dedicated to one thing—selling abortion; and they do not care how many young girls are raped or abused in the process.”

Read Smith v. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood


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