John Jalsevac

A former Planned Parenthood manager in her own words: Ramona Trevino speaks out

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac

Note: Ramona Trevino’s speech in the video above starts at 8:30 into the video.

August 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When Ramona Trevino was 11 years old, she felt God was calling her to serve Him in a special way – so much so that she told her mother she wanted to become a nun one day.

But less than 20 years later, Ramona found herself managing perhaps one of the least convent-like places you could think of – a Planned Parenthood clinic.

During a lengthy interview with LifeSiteNews.com last week, the 33-year-old mother of four (including the unborn child expected early next year) confessed that her childhood desire to be a nun is only one of many ways that she made for an unusual Planned Parenthood manager.

She says that when she began working for the abortion giant over three years ago, she didn’t believe in abortion, and, even more surprisingly, didn’t even believe in contraception – for herself, that is.

“I had always been personally pro-life,” she says, pointing out that when she became pregnant at the age of 16, the thought of getting an abortion didn’t even cross her mind. Instead she dropped out of school to take care of her child full time.

When it comes to contraception, Ramona says her views were shaped by a CD she picked up during the marriage prep course required by her Catholic diocese – “Contraception: Why Not?” by theologian Janet Smith. 

That CD “opened my eyes a lot about contraception,” she says, “because previously before that I didn’t really know or understand or really know a whole lot about the Catholic teaching on contraception.” 

Catholic, anti-abortion, and a Planned Parenthood manager?

So how does a Catholic mother who is personally against both abortion and contraception start working as a manger at a Planned Parenthood clinic?

In some ways, says Ramona, it was as simple as any job search. Planned Parenthood offered a great job at face value: not only did it have a great salary, but the job was only three days a week, which would allow her to ease back into the workplace after an extended stint as stay-at-home mom.

And even though she didn’t believe in abortion or contraception for herself, she says her attitude at the time was “each to their own.” “I’ve always been kind of confused in the way that I thought,” she admits, “because I felt like if I was ‘pro-life,’ then I was passing judgment.” 

She also says that she feels like she was “jaded” by some of her past experiences and that she justified what she did, because “it was almost like I would rather [Planned Parenthood clients] be on birth control then go abort their baby,” or have a child they wouldn’t take care of.

As well, the friend who recommended the job (who would later undergo her own pro-life conversion and leave her Planned Parenthood post) repeatedly emphasized that the Sherman clinic did not do abortions. 

But Ramona soon found out that just because her clinic didn’t do abortions, she couldn’t avoid her employer’s dirty secret altogether: she was still required to counsel and refer abortion-seeking women to an abortion clinic. 

“The very first time I did my first abortion counseling I went to my office and I cried. It was very hard, very, very hard,” she says. “And I felt so guilty.”

In her approach to counseling, however, Ramona proved once again that she did not fit the Planned Parenthood mold: she insists she never steered any woman towards abortion, and in fact, would regularly refer women to the pro-life pregnancy resource center in town – at least until Planned Parenthood caught on, and told her to stop. 

At the same time, however, she admits with regret that she never tried to stop a woman from getting an abortion, and would give abortion-bound women the referral they sought.

The turning point, and Lila Rose

In looking back over her years at Planned Parenthood, Ramona at times seemed perplexed that it took her so long to pick up and leave (she quit in May of this year). 

One of the things that kept her going, she says, is that she often did feel as if she was doing something worthwhile: on several occasions she and her staff literally saved women’s lives, she says, after they detected nascent and potentially life threatening cancers. 

She also confesses, however, that she was simply “comfortable” with her lifestyle. “And that’s sometimes how the Evil One fools us. He tries to paint a picture of, well, this is good for you, this is a pretty picture, this is all perfect right now. Why do you want to mess with a good thing?”

But eventually, Ramona could no longer ignore the guilt that plagued her. She also says began to question Planned Parenthood’s dedication to its purported mission of helping women after she was continually urged to increase the number of patients her clinic saw, and to increase revenue. 

“That was one of those things where I began to see that they don’t care about these women, they care about money,” she says. “The more women they can pack in the schedule, the more money they can bring in, the more people they can put on birth control and sell birth control to, whatever services we can sell, that’s what they care about.”

Ramona’s complaints about her former employer’s financial priorities have been echoed by Abby Johnson, the director of a Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood who left to become a pro-life activist in 2009.  “Planned Parenthood’s bottom line is numbers,” said Johnson, who called abortion the group’s “primary money-maker.”

This discomfort reached a higher pitch earlier this year, when Lila Rose and Live Action released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood managers helping purported child sex traffickers get abortions and other services for their underage prostitutes.

After those videos were released, a meeting for all the regional Planned Parenthood managers was called. Ramona says she expected the meeting to be about how to spot situations of abuse or sex trafficking – but instead it was all about how to detect if you are being recorded, or are the victim of a sting operation. 

After that meeting, she says, “I kind of remember coming back and telling my co-worker, ‘I’m done. This is it. I’ve got to find something else.’”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back didn’t come until later in the year, during the Christian season of Lent, as well as the first ever 40 Days for Life campaign outside Ramona’s clinic.

Divine Mercy

As Lent approached, Ramona decided to make a renewed effort to go weekly to church, where her attendance had grown spotty, and to read scripture and pray the rosary every day. 

“Just three days into praying the rosary - that was it,” she says. “The blinders came off.”

For months already, Ramona had been listening to Catholic radio, even hearing the first interview with Abby Johnson after she left Planned Parenthood. At around this time Ramona heard that the 40 Days for Life vigil was coming to Sherman.

“I thought, this will be a perfect opportunity to go out … talk with one of the protesters and ask them to pray for me,” she says. “Tell them what’s going on with me. Because at that point I was reaching out for someone - prayers, some kind of guidance, some kind of support.”

And that’s exactly what she did. She spoke with the man who lead the local 40 Days for Life campaign, Gerry, who gave her a copy of Abby Johnson’s book “Unplanned.” He also put her in touch with the national 40 Days for Life campaign team, who offered to pray for her and to give her the support she needed to leave.

And yet, Ramona continued to hesitate, pushing the date for her departure further and further off, scared to give up half her family’s income, and scared to launch out into unknown waters.

But finally, on May 1 of this year, when Catholics celebrated both the feast of Divine Mercy and the beatification of Pope John Paul II, Ramona was sitting in church, and remembers singing the hymn “Lord, when You Came to the Seashore.” 

“And for me the lyrics of that song gave me the answer that I needed - basically, you know, leave everything on the seashore and just come follow Me, and I will take care of you. And that’s what I needed - to just remember that I need to trust God.”

The next day, Ramona called Lauren at the national 40 Days for Life office and told her she was leaving that week.

“That Friday, May 6, I left my letter of resignation on the desk, I made sure everything was in order. Left my keys on the table, and that was it. 

“I never looked back.”

The desire to serve God returns

When asked what her plans are now, Ramona says simply that she has no idea – at least when it comes to the details. She does know, however, that she wants to serve God. 

She says she now looks back on her childhood desire to become a nun as “a whisper” of things to come.

“God was calling me and maybe telling me that there were things ahead of me that were going to be wonderful, and I just didn’t know how to discern that, or didn’t have anybody to really nurture that,” says the Catholic mom. “So, now I feel like God is calling me again, and this time I don’t want to ignore it.”

She doesn’t know exactly what she’s being called to, but believes it’s somewhere in ministry - probably in pro-life ministry, perhaps promoting abstinence and chastity or natural family planning. 

The first step, however, is simply to come forward and to tell her story courageously – not to talk about herself, she says, but to tell the mercy of God, and the valuable work of pro-life activists.

Her story, she says, is about all the people “that are out there fighting for life, the people that are out there that are spending their time and all of their efforts and energy for pro-life, and the people that are at the vigils. I want them to know that their prayers are heard.”

“That’s why I feel that my story is so important,” she concludes, “not because it’s my story, but because it’s their story.

“If anything it’s their story, it’s what they’ve done. And that’s what I really want to share, so that I can glorify God.”

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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