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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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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