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‘I still grieve’: former abortion workers find healing at retreat with Abby Johnson, Fr. Pavone

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By Abby Johnson

June 3, 2013 (ATTWN) - Last weekend, several former abortion clinic workers from all different states joined together for a healing retreat through And Then There Were None (ATTWN).  Father Frank Pavone and Father Terry Gensemer led the retreat and helped the former clinic workers open up. As the workers shared their stories with each other, they realized how much they had in common with one another.

Bitter divorce, broken families, drug and alcohol abuse, and abortions in their own pasts were all major factors in these women's decisions to initially begin working in the abortion industry. "I'm angry at my ex husband... the abuse," said 'Amy,' who was employed by Planned Parenthood for many years.  "I felt worthless and thought 'what difference does it make where I work?'" 

Also common among former clinic workers is how secretive they were (and still are) about working in the abortion industry-it's something they'd rather keep from their friends and family.  "I hate to admit that I ever worked at a place like Planned Parenthood," said 'Jamie,' who had tears in her eyes.

"I still grieve the person that people think I am," said 'Molly.'  Even though she left the abortion industry many years ago, she still struggled with telling her adult children about it. "How can I tell them I was capable of that [working in a clinic]?"

Going into the abortion industry, it is not unusual for a person to be told "Don't worry, you won't actually have to participate in the abortions."   This happened with most of the women who attended the retreat.  Although they may have been initially be uncomfortable with the idea of working in an abortion clinic, this justification helped push that discomfort aside.  "It wasn't long before they were in the procedure rooms, directly assisting in the abortion process."  'Mary' described the introductory process to helping in abortions as she recalled: "First, you'd just sit in a chair by the door when they happened.  Then, they would have you stand by the door.  Eventually you'd come closer, and then suddenly you're at the edge of the bed actually helping with the procedure.  They did it that way because most people don't make it through the first one."

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A lot of horrific memories surfaced during the retreat - memories of babies being born alive and having to piece babies back together after procedures were particularly painful for the women to describe.  "When you take that jar and dump it [after an abortion], and you see those arms and legs, there's no denying it's a baby," said Mary.  'Christine' recalled a time that a baby was born alive into the toilet. "This baby was moving... I'm like, oh God, what do I do?" she said.  "We were supposed to give CPR but never did... once that fetus dropped in the toilet, I knew I was done... I am guilty for not saving the child who drowned in the toilet.  When I left, I didn't look back."

Truly, Christ's presence was a palpable during the retreat as tears were shed and admittance of guilt and sorrow poured out.  All of the women opened up about their pasts like they never had before, and made promises among themselves to set new goals for their lives.  Many made a goal of gathering the courage to pray outside of abortion clinics, including the ones where they formerly worked.  Molly made a goal of talking to her family and children about her past. Some made the goal of starting up and working for pregnancy resource centers to help pregnant women choose life. Christine is currently writing a book about her experiences, and wants to expose the doctor for whom she worked.  Jamie has set a goal of finding a medical job where she can use her skills without having to compromise her beliefs. 

Here are a few more quotes from the former clinic workers who attended the ATTWN retreat.

"Gosnell's going to prison for life, but I'm just as guilty... but the 24 week abortions I helped in, that was legal.  There is no statute of limitations on murder, but I'm not in jail... If you can believe it's an unfeeling non-person, it's so much easier to dehumanize them.  You can't hear the baby cry."  - Molly

"After you work at Planned Parenthood, you're set apart.  It's a stigma.  As a single parent it's lonely... people look at you differently.  The medical community does too.  Planned Parenthood makes you feel like you're stuck there because you've been involved with abortion... When I left Planned Parenthood, I never wanted to think about it again.  It worked for a few years, but eventually I went out to pray during 40 Days for Life.  I figured after that I'd be done, but God has more in store for me." - Mary

"Dr. _X_ was good at the digoxin, but Dr. _Y_ wasn't.  Dr. _Y _ would mess up and babies would be born alive... Moms are damaged mentally.  You will never, ever, ever, ever forget it.  [Abortion] hurts a whole community.  It hurts a family."  - Christine

"The hardest question you get asked is 'does the baby feel pain?' We had to lie to them or say we don't know."  - Amy

All of you, with your financial contributions, your support and your prayers helped to make this weekend happen.  On behalf of all the women that attended the retreat, I want to say THANK YOU.  Lives are being changed because of you.  

We anticipate holding another healing retreat in August.  If you know someone who has worked for the abortion industry in the past (or currently), please let them know there is help.  We would love for them to join us on our next retreat.  

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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