There is one genre that I would like to see grow and then have no need for at all. That is the conversion testimony of those who were once pro-abortion and were involved in the business of providing abortions. There have been some startling conversion stories such as founding member of NARAL the abortion doctor Bernard Nathanson. In recent years it was the story of an ex-Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson in her book Unplanned. I enjoy reading conversion stories since while there are commonalties they are as unique as the person who wrote them.
That is certainly true of a new book by Ramona Treviño titled Redeemed by Grace: A Catholic Womans Journey to Planned Parenthood and Back. While the late Dr. Nathanson and Abby Johnson were converts to the faith, Ramona was raised in the Church. While she grew in a rather difficult family atmosphere with an alcoholic father, it was one she persevered through. While their Mass attendance was off and on she was attracted to the Church and through the movie The Song of Bernadette was attracted to religious life. A desire to give her self to others. This all went astray with the entering into her life of an older boy who ended up leaving her pregnant and eventually marrying her. This did not go well at all and setup many of the difficulties she later encountered in trying to provide security for her daughter.
Told by a friend about Planned Parenthood hiring people she applied and they were impressed with her enough to put her into a management position of a Planned Parenthood clinic. One that did not do surgical abortion, but nevertheless provided referrals to the Planned Parenthood clinic that did.
What I found very interesting in the relating of her story is regarding how she justified her work as a Catholic. The idea of helping people was what really led her and I saw the same in Abby Johnson’s story. That they really came to believe in the mission that Planned Parenthood pretends it has and that they were really helping people with contraceptives and providing the safe-sex message. Being Catholic and thinking the Church is nuts regarding contraceptives is not exactly a rare-breed of Catholic. The basically uncatechized Catholic who has some idea of what the Church teaches, but lacks any understanding of the cohesive and deeply rational nature of those teachings. Besides anybody that makes any endeavor into self-knowledge quickly realized all the rationalizations we come up with to justify some behavior apprehended as a good. We quickly quiet our conscience like shushing a baby.
Over the period of time she worked for Planned Parenthood there was certainly an awakening of conscience and the awareness of the cognitive dissonance between the upper level management of Planned Parenthood and their supposed concern for women. In her personal encounters with people she was seeing this more and more.
I had suspected this and it is interesting to see corporate Planned Parenthoods response to the Live Action videos. It was not a case of “this is terrible we really need to train our people better”, it was all about suppression and being on the lookout for Lila Rose. The outrage was all regarding being exposed. She describes other instances regarding corporate management that again shows a total lack of concern for women, but just a typical lust for profits.
The work of Catholic media also had a strong influence in her conversion. In this case Catholic radio where she heard what she did not want to hear such as on Barbara McGuigan’s show. Yet it was still something she came to listen to. One aspect of radio was that it was something she could listen to in an atmosphere that was not threatening and could be done in the privacy of her commute. EWTN’s offering of content to small but continuously growing Catholic radio has got to be the greatest human tool for conversion currently. It was greatly influential for me and I have heard this repeated many times by others on their call in shows. Catholic Answers fairly new series “Why Are You Pro-Choice?” also played a role for her.
A wonderful part of her story is all the people that helped her out. From a priest in the confessional who did not try to tell her contraception was a personal issue to the number of people in the pro-life cause. She was met by love and help at every turn. Whether it was members of 40 days for life or the one women she first met that was gentle and had words of God’s love for her even after she told her she was the manager of the clinic. Such a valuable lesson to remember when helping others escape sin.
My review only gives a thumbnails view of this book, how she tells her full story and the wisdom she has gained is what really makes this worth reading. The struggles and the continuing struggle to stay true to her convictions and putting problems into God’s hands.