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placeholder September 19, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA

Contrary to Catholic teaching, about four in ten Catholics in the U.S. say that having an abortion is not a sin and more than half say it should be legal and available in their community. Latino Catholics are more likely to view abortion as a sin.
CNS graphics/Emily Thompson
For Spanish speakers,
a post-abortion retreat
Rachel’s Vineyard retreat

For: Spanish speakers

When: Oct. 7-9

Where: Santa Rosa

Information: (707) 967-1101;

Cost: $150 per person, $275 per couple. Partial scholarships or payment terms available.

Patricia, a 30-year-old woman with roots in both California and Mexico, finds herself on an unexpected journey. For the past three years she has been speaking to groups, ranging from 50 to 300, sharing her powerful story of recovery after abortion and drug addiction.

The drug addiction, she said, she expected to tell others about, to help them avoid the years of suffering she endured. But not the abortions. On those, she said, she expected to remain silent.

“This was the last ministry I wanted to do,” she said.

Patricia, who will speak at a youth rally in Oakland next month, is preparing to be involved in Rachel’s Vineyard’s October retreat in Santa Rosa, which will reach out to the Spanish-speaking community.

It was through a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, designed for those who seek healing after abortion, that Patricia found her own calling.

“I think it really moved me . . . everything I went through, to prevent others from going through it,” she said.

She will appear on an EWTN television program, “Silent No More,” next spring, and her story will be featured in an upcoming book by Alameda author Christine Watkins.
Patricia is also motivated to “tell the truth about Planned Parenthood,” she said, “and the soul they are taking.”

In addition to having been a client there, Patricia, with a degree in medical assisting, worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sacramento.

Born in California to parents who came here from Jalisco, Mexico, she describes herself as a straight-A student who took her parents’ divorce, when she was 12, hard. She lived with her father.

“When I was 19, I was in a relationship with someone older than myself,” she said.
“When I found out I was pregnant, I had all these goals,” she said. “How was I going to disappoint my dad? I was so scared.”

Her first instinct: “I’ll just keep it.” Her boyfriend was supportive and looked forward to being a father.

The U.S. abortion rate has been on a general decline for the past 30 years.

When she was four months pregnant, however, “My best friend begged me to have an abortion,” pointing out the things Patricia wouldn’t be able to do if she had a baby. She succumbed to “peer pressure.”

Although she had had some early prenatal care and had “seen the arms and heart” on an ultrasound, a staff member at the abortion clinic told her, “It’s not a baby, it’s just tissue.”

“The doctor told me, ‘Patricia, I had two. I performed two on my daughter. We’re OK, and you’re going to be OK.”

Patricia told her boyfriend that she had miscarried. But when she became pregnant again a few months later, she said, “I was angry at myself.”

She ended that pregnancy, too. The third time, she asked her boyfriend to accompany her. “I forced him to the abortion center,” she said. “He was crying. I thought, ‘He thinks it’s the first and I’ve already killed two.’”

After the third abortion in 18 months, she moved away. She found an ad: “Planned Parenthood needed a bilingual person urgently.”

“They were always so nice,” she said, “I wanted to work for them.”

On the day of the interview she was asked: Do you have problems with abortion?
“I’ve had three,” she replied.

She was hired, and told to enter the clinic through a back alley when she reported for work. As she walked past protesters, she said, “I felt inside I was doing something wrong. I felt really ashamed.”

Her manager told her she would counsel Hispanic women. “You will do everything in your will to convince these girls to keep their appointments for their abortions. If you see that they are frightened and want to back out, console them by telling them you had one yourself. Oh, and never ever call it a baby, he or a she. You call their baby an it.”

She was told: “You will never tell anybody what goes on back here.”

The crying women were not the worst. She had to carry the remains to the back office, where they had to verify all the parts were accounted for. Packing the remains into biohazard bags and putting them in the freezer was almost more than she could bear. “I only lasted two weeks,” she said.

The last straw: A client came in to abort 51⁄2-month twins. “I was so mad. She’s killing two. I didn’t go back.”

A new boyfriend and a dependence on drugs took over her life. “I started doing cocaine to take the depression away,” she said. He suggested she smoke crystal meth instead. “I got so addicted I was lost,” she said.

She was homeless for three years, living on the streets.

“I was living this life in darkness like hell on Earth,” she said. “Bawling” on a curb, she felt God’s presence. “You’re all I have,” she said, asking forgiveness.

A waitress came out of a nearby restaurant, saying the Lord spoke to her and told her to comfort the crying woman. The waitress, whose father was a Christian pastor, arranged to get Patricia home to her father.

It took her a year and a half to get out of it. Her mother, who had “gone New Age,” had returned to the Catholic Church. “God prepared her,” Patricia said. “When I came home, she was ready for me.”

“This isn’t who you are,” her mother said. “I’m going to tell you who you are.”
And she opened the Bible.

Later, a friend suggested Rachel’s Vineyard. Patricia said she was skeptical. “I thought I’d go get my healing and never tell,” she said.

At the retreat, she learned, “I was a mother and God had them in heaven for me,” and named her children.

Now, she is helping others heal. “You never know how God changes you through others,” she said.

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