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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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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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