Jewels Green

23 years after the abortion that nearly cost me my life, I sought healing

Jewels Green
By Jewels Green
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Note: Jewels Green is a former abortion clinic worker who also had an abortion herself. Last year she spoke out about her experiences as an abortion clinic worker for the first time. You can read that article here.

April 30, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - I had been looking forward to my post-abortion healing retreat weekend for months. Years, in fact. The grief and crushing guilt after my abortion 23 years ago nearly cost me my life. My check for the nominal fee was cashed, and the Herculean logistics of childcare and shuttling my three sons to and from activities while mommy was away was complete. As a firm non-believer in GPS, I wrote out my driving directions using the markers from the kids’ art table and set off on my 40-mile journey to closure.

Located atop a hill, surrounded by fields and trees, the retreat house was perfectly bucolic and remote. Including me, there were eight retreatants, seven staff members (including the lead facilitator, a nurse, and a certified counselor), and – although it was conducted as an interdenominational Christian retreat – a priest.

I checked into my room and found a welcome packet filled with inspirational pamphlets and a gift arrangement that included a journal, a coffee mug filled with candy, and prayer cards. Then I headed back downstairs to sup on the homemade minestrone soup that was waiting for us in a crock pot upon arrival and enjoyed small talk with the others about how far we’d each traveled to get there, the traffic, and the beautiful weather.

The formal “work” of the retreat was to take place in a large, carpeted room with big comfy chairs arranged in a circle. Each chair had a lovingly handmade donated afghan on it, a box of tissues, and a tiny trash can. It looked eerily like the recovery room of the abortion clinic where I had worked. One of our first spiritual exercises after briefly introducing ourselves was to pick a rock to carry around with us throughout the weekend as a physical reminder of the weight of our own personal burdens of guilt, grief, regret, anger, shame, and sadness associated with our abortions.

The first “grief stone” I chose was the only rectangular one among the circle of rocks around the low table in the center of the room. I thought that that was somehow appropriate, given my additional guilt and shame of working in an abortion clinic for years piled on top of the devastation of my own abortion.

A few unexpected surprises of the retreat led me to see that first stone as a weapon, not as a physical manifestation and representation of the heavy psychic burden I carried. I was almost immediately plunged into a vivid daydream of using the sharpest edge (which admittedly, wasn’t very sharp at all) to scrape at my forearms. The same way I used to when I would cut myself for release to ease the maelstrom of emotional fury so many, many years ago.

I hadn’t tried to deliberately hurt myself in decades. Something was wrong. I approached the retreat’s counselor and confessed that I could not be trusted with a pointy rock, so I traded it in for a smooth stone. I held my new smooth gray grief stone in the palm of my hand and felt its heft. He was very dusty, so I took him to the sink in the bathroom and scrubbed him off. There, on the surface, I noticed a crack…in the shape of a cross. I had the right stone now.

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Part of the retreat rules are that participants are to carry their grief stone with us at all times – to the bathroom, the shower, the breakfast table – until we are ready to lay down our burden. Each retreatant chooses the time to relieve oneself of the burden, sets the stone down somewhere at the retreat house, and then shares with the assembled mourners and staff why it was time to stop carrying the weight around.

The intended purpose of the relinquishing of one’s heavy rock of grief is meant to symbolize relief from the burden of grief, anger, and guilt. I’d thought this was not all that dissimilar from the Jewish tradition of leaving a “stone of remembrance” upon the grave marker of a loved one. But those grieving Jews have a cemetery to visit, a physical place to leave their tangible representation of memorial and grief. We who mourn children lost to abortion have no such monument to our dead.

After a morning prayer service and breakfast, it was time to divide the group in half to share our own personal abortion stories. Although I’ve written about my abortion and working in an abortion clinic, spoken publicly about it, and even been interviewed for radio broadcasts, I simply did not feel safe enough in this place to share my history in mixed-gender company. Admittedly, I was still harboring anger and resentment about not knowing that men would be present at the retreat. I fully acknowledge the very real grief of post-abortive men and agree that they too deserve assistance on the road to forgiveness, spiritual healing, and reconciliation – I just wrongly assumed that this retreat was for women only (with the exception of the priest, of course) and that men were provided a separate therapeutic experience tailored to their role in the abortion decision. Clearly, his experience is fundamentally different from that of the pregnant woman who physically endures the pregnancy and the violence that ends it.

So I left the retreat early = with my smooth cross-stone. During my hour-long drive home, I felt warmer and calmer and more at peace the more distance I put between me and my failed attempt at scripted healing. I drove under an overpass with a large street sign bearing the name I’d chosen for my child while he was still alive, still growing inside me. I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t leaving my dead child behind, but I was bringing home a memorial to him as I kept driving – away from the retreat and toward my three living children, my home, my husband, and my future.

I lifted my stone out of the car but hesitated at the door to my home. I would not bring him inside. His stone has a place in the garden, a part of my family’s surroundings. My stone is no longer a burden – it is a memorial. Now I have a place to visit. Now he has a place to be remembered.

Ministries that provide counseling and spiritual healing services provide invaluable assistance to the thousands of women and men grieving after abortion. The dedicated staff, volunteers, pastors, and priests provide comfort and solace to help so many bridge the chasm of unspoken sorrow in their souls with a forgiveness that helps them reach the stability of the shore where true healing happens, and the future can unfold unencumbered by the weight of the past.

My own journey was (and still is) intensely personal and could not have happened any other way.

There is no such thing as one-size-fits all healing.

Author’s Note: If you or someone you love is suffering from unresolved emotions stemming from a past abortion, please contact any (or all) of the following remarkable organizations dedicated to helping heal those wounded by the violence of abortion. Find what works for you – don’t give up. You’re worth it.

- Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries (Be sure to inquire about whether or not the retreat time and location you choose is co-ed or women-only.)

- AfterAbortion.com

- The National Office for Post Abortion Reconciliation & Healing

- Project Rachel

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org


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‘It’s a miracle’: Newborn girl survives two days after being abandoned in a field

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

The survival of a baby who was abandoned by her mother and left in a field for two days has been described as "a miracle" by the doctor attending the newborn girl.

"She had been left alone naked, and weighed less than a kilogram, in part because she was so severely dehydrated," said Doctor Barbara Chomik at the hospital in the northern Polish city of Elblag, according to a report from Central European News.

"It is a miracle that she survived under those conditions for so long. It is simply a miracle," Dr. Chomik said.

The report said that the child's mother, Jolanta Czarnecka, 30, of Ilawa in northeastern Poland, had concealed her pregnancy from friends and fellow workers, and had given birth in a field during a lunch break, then returned to work.

When blood was noticed on her clothing, the woman at first claimed she had accidentally given birth in the toilet and the baby had gone down the drain.

However, when investigation found no evidence supporting her claims, Czarnecka admitted to having given birth to the child in a nearby field and leaving her there.

When searchers found the child, two days after her birth, the little girl was dehydrated and covered with insects.

Czarnecka is facing charges of attempted murder for allegedly abandoning her child.

Czarnecka, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her, could be sentenced to five years in prison if she is convicted.


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Because nothing says love quite like a whip and restraints, right? Shutterstock
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To the Christians who think 50 Shades is all sorts of awesome: Please, stop and THINK

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By Jonathon van Maren

It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.

I suppose when I write a column about a book that just sold its 100 millionth copy I shouldn’t be surprised when I get a bit of a kickback. But I have to say—I wasn’t expecting hundreds of commenters, many saying they were Christian, to come out loudly defending the porn novel 50 Shades of Grey, often tastelessly interspersed with details from their own sex lives.

People squawked that we “shouldn’t judge” those who practice bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM), and informed me that “no one gets hurt” and that it “isn’t abuse” and said that it was “just fantasy” (as if we have a separate brain and body for fantasy).

Meanwhile, not a single commenter addressed one of the main arguments I laid out—that with boys watching violent porn and girls being socialized to accept violence and torture inside of a sexual relationship, we have created a toxic situation in which people very much are being hurt.

In response to the defenders of this trash, let me make just a few points.

  1. Not all consent is equal.

People keep trumpeting this stupid idea that just because someone consents to something or allows something to happen, it isn’t abusive.

But if someone consents to being beaten up, punched, slapped, whipped, called disgusting and degrading names, and have other things done to them that I will choose not to describe here, does that make it any less abusive? It makes it legal (perhaps, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less disgusting or violent.

Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey? If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic and sexual assault will tell you that just because someone permits something to happen or doesn’t extricate themselves from a situation doesn’t mean it isn’t, in fact, abuse. Only when it comes to sex are people starting to make this argument, so that they can cling to their fetishes and justify their turn-ons. Those women who defend the book because they think it spiced up their sex life are being incredibly selfish and negligent, refusing to think about how this book could affect other women in different situations, as well as young and impressionable girls.

In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines:

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian [Grey of 50 Shades of Grey] is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatized kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.

  1. 50 Shades of Grey normalizes intimate partner violence…

…and sickeningly, even portrays it as romantic and erotic. Amy Bonomi, Lauren Altenburger, and Nicole Walton published an article on the impact of 50 Shades last year in the Journal of Women’s Health. Their conclusions are intuitive and horrifying:

While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions—including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music—create the context to support such violence.

Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.

Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

  1. Really? Sadism?

I notice that commenters rarely break down what the acronym “BDSM” actually stands for: bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. If they did, they could no longer make the repulsive claim that “love” or “intimacy” have anything to do with it.

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The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone…a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.”

As one of my colleagues noted, we used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal. As one porn researcher noted, some online BDSM porn promotes practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context.

It seems the Sexual Revolutionaries have gone from promoting “safe sex” to “safe words”—just in case the pain gets too rough. And none of them seem to be volunteering information on just how a woman is supposed to employ a safe word with a gag or bondage headgear on.

But who cares, right? Just one more casualty on our culture’s new Sexual Frontier.

  1. “It’s just fiction and fantasy and has no effect on the real world!”

That’s total garbage and they know it. I’ve met multiple girls who were abused like this inside of relationships. Hotels are offering “50 Shades of Grey” packages replete with the helicopter and private suites for the proceedings. According to the New York Post, sales of rope exploded tenfold after the release of the book. Babeland reported that visits to the bondage section of their website spiked 81%, with an almost 30% increase in the sale of things like riding crops and handcuffs.

I could go on, but I won’t. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah noted, “It’s like a juggernaut. You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in. The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”

  1. What does this book and the BDSM movement say about the value of women and girls?

I’d like the defenders of this book to try stop thinking with their nether-regions for just a moment and ask themselves a few simple questions: What does sadism and sexual torture (consensual or not) say to our culture about the value of girls? What does it say to boys about how they should treat girls? The youth of today are inundated with porn and sexually violent material—is nobody—nobody—at all worried about the impact this has on them? On the girls who are being abused by boys who think this is normal behavior—and think it is normal themselves?

Dr. Gail Dines relates that when speaking to groups of women who loved the book, they all grow deathly silent when she asks them two simple questions: Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey?

If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

__

This book and the sadism it promotes are an assault on human dignity, and most of all an assault on the worth and value of girls and women. Please consider the impact you will have on your daughters and the vulnerable and confused people around you when you read and promote this book. Anastasia Steele is, thankfully, a fictional character. But real girls are facing these expectations and demands from a culture that elevates a sexual sadist to the level of a romantic hero. Ask yourselves if you want their “love” and “intimacy” to include sadism and domination, or real respect.

Because you can’t have both.

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Ryan T. Anderson

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New York Times reporter: ‘Anti-LGBT’ people ‘deserve’ incivility

Ryan T. Anderson
By Ryan Anderson

As I recounted Monday at The Daily Signal, The New York Times reporter Josh Barro thinks some people are “unworthy of respect.” Yesterday Barro doubled-down and tweeted back at me that “some people are deserving of incivility.” He argued that I am such a person because of my views about marriage policy. You can see the entire exchange on my twitter page.

What Josh Barro says or does doesn’t really affect me. I’m not a victim, and I’ll keep doing what I do. But incivility, accepted and entrenched, is toxic to a political community. Indeed, civility is essential for political life in a pluralistic society.

It also has deep roots.

The Hebrew Bible tells us that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and have a profound and inherent dignity. Sound philosophy comes to a similar conclusion: as rational beings capable of freedom and love, all human beings have intrinsic and inestimable worth. And so we should always treat people with respect and dignity—we should honor their basic humanity. We should always engage with civility—even when we sharply disagree with them. Faith and reason, the natural law and the divine law, both point to the same conclusion.

Just as I think the best of theology and philosophy point to the conclusion that we should always treat people with respect, so I think they show that marriage is the union of a man and a woman—and that redefining marriage will undermine the political common good.

The work that I’ve done for the past few years for The Heritage Foundation has been at the service of explaining why I think this to be the case. Bookish by nature, I thought the best contribution I could make to public life was to help us think about marriage. So while my early work after college was in philosophy and bioethics, and my graduate coursework was in the history of political philosophy, I put my dissertation about economic and social justice on hold so I could devote myself to this debate at this crucial time.

Along with my co-authors, a classmate of mine from Princeton and a professor of ours there, we set out to write a book making what we considered the best philosophical argument for what marriage is and why it matters. Our book seemed to help the Supreme Court think about the issue, as Justice Samuel Alito cited it twice. The reason I’ve written various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, and traveled across the country speaking on college campuses, and appeared on numerous news shows (including, of course, Piers Morgan) is that I know the only way forward in our national debate about marriage is to make the arguments in as reasonable and civil a spirit as possible.

Some people, like Barro, want to do everything they can to shut down this discussion. They want to demonize those who hold contrary viewpoints. They want to equate us with racists and claim we are unworthy of respect and ought to be treated with incivility. This is how bullies behave. In all of recorded history, ours is the first time where we can have open and honest conversations about same-sex attraction and marriage. This discussion is just beginning. It is nowhere near being over.

All our fellow citizens, including those identifying as LGBT, should enjoy the full panoply of civil rights—the free exercise of religion, freedoms of speech and press, the right to own property and enter into contracts, the right to vote and have a fair trial, and every other freedom to live as they choose, consistent with the common good.

Government redefinition of marriage, however, is not a civil right—nor will redefining marriage serve the common good. Indeed, redefining marriage will have negative consequences.

We make our arguments, in many fora, as transparently as possible. We welcome counterarguments. And we strive to treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve as we carry on this conversation.

One of the most unfortunate parts of my exchange with Barro last night was his reaction toward those who identify as LGBT and aspire to lives of chastity. They freely choose to live by their conviction that sex is reserved for the marital bond of a husband and wife. Some of them also seek professional help in dealing with and perhaps even diminishing (not repressing) their same-sex sexual desires.

I have written in their defense and against government coercion that would prevent them from receiving the help they desire, as New Jersey and California have done. Barro describes my support for their freedom as “sowing misery…doing a bad thing to people…making the world worse.”

There really is anti-LGBT bigotry in the world. But Barro does a disservice to his cause when he lumps in reasonable debates about marriage policy and the pastoral care that some same-sex attracted persons voluntarily seek out as, in his words, “anti-LGBT.” If we can’t draw a line between real bigotry and reasonable disagreement, we’re not helping anyone.

This debate isn’t about restricting anyone’s personal freedom. However it goes, people will remain free to live their romantic lives as they choose. So too people who experience same-sex attraction but aspire to chastity should be free to lead their lives in line with their beliefs, and to seek out the help they desire. We can have a civil conversation about which course of action is best—but let’s leave aside the extremism.

Barro asks, “Why shouldn’t I call you names?” My answer is simple: you should not practice the disdain and contempt you claim to abhor.

All my life, I’ve been educated at left-leaning institutions. Most of my friends disagree with me about these issues. But they’re still friends. And their feedback has made me a better person.

My final tweet to Barro is where I still remain committed: “people on all sides of LGBT debates and marriage debates need to find a way to discuss these issues without demonizing anyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Signal, where you can find Ryan Anderson's Twitter exchange with Barro.


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