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Undercover videos revive pain over abortion

October 1, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

The series of undercover videos aimed at exposing the buying and selling of aborted babies’ body parts are hitting many of those who have had abortions hard. But those interviewed said that nevertheless, if the videos can stop someone else from having an abortion, it is worth the pain.

“When I watched the first video, I was mortified. The depression cut back in,” said Patti Smith, regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in San Diego. Smith had two abortions, one in the 1970s and one in the 1980s, and battled back from alcoholism, promiscuity and mental illness. A convert to Catholicism and married to a Catholic, she blogshttp://gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/

The Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos in mid-July showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted babies parts. The videos include interviews with a young woman who worked as a technician for StemExpress in Placerville and undercover videos of conversations with the chief executive officer of StemExpress. Planned Parenthood has countered that it donates the tissue for scientific research and receives only reimbursement for its expenses, which is legal.

“It’s another cross we are carrying, watching those videos,” said Smith, but she said the videos are raising consciousness abortion’s evil. “We know what those videos are doing, saving more lives. This is helping. We are seeing a lot of people who have normally been middle of the road, turning around and saying, ‘whoa, we didn’t know.’”

The founder of Silent No More, Georgette Forney, said she watched the first video on her own in a hotel room, and felt as if “I was back on the table again” despite having undergone an abortion decades ago in high school as well as having experienced healing and reconciliation many years ago.

Realizing the effect on women who have abortions, Forney began blogging and tweeting about it almost immediately. Silent No More has posted a YouTube video where Forney offers sympathy and advice, saying that God is there and “remember his love is unconditional.”

Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, said the most common initial reaction from people who have had abortions but have not gone through a healing retreat such as Project Rachel or Rachel’s Vineyard is to become very quiet. “I think once this is over, there’s going to be a bunch of people looking for help. For the moment, I think this has got them shut down,” said Thorn, executive director of the national office of post abortion reconciliation and healing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Mary Ann Schwab, coordinator of Project Rachel in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said she has not seen any spike in calls from women who have had abortions. That experience is echoed elsewhere. “I wouldn’t expect an uptick. This isn’t an opportunity for healing. This is an opportunity to realize how grave the issue is,” said Kent Peters, director of the office for social ministry in the Diocese of San Diego. Peters said he checked with other big dioceses, and there was not an increase in calls from women who had abortions. “A lot of them are shut down.”

“At the moment, I think they are blown away, thinking, ‘what if, what if, what if,’” said Peters, “wondering if the baby they aborted was also sold for parts.”

Forney advises that even for women who have undergone healing, the experience is going to be very painful and may trigger obsessive behaviors including watching the videos over and over, or substance abuse, or taking out feelings of anger on family and friends. She said it is important to exercise and find positive outlets to release the anger. She says it makes sense for many to go to another healing retreat.

Smith also said that many women who have undergone healing benefit from attending a second retreat. In the San Diego area, and recognized by the Diocese of San Diego, there is Rachel’s Hope After Abortion Healing for Catholic women or “Catholic-friendly” women, she said.

In her YouTube video, Forney speaks to “those who are facing the reality of abortion for the first time” and says experiencing panic attacks, grief, and sorrow are common feelings. “Be assured you are not alone or going crazy,” said Forney.

“I think this is a massive re-traumatization,” said Thorn, as women also wonder if their baby was used for research, asking themselves, ‘Did I sign something at Planned Parenthood?’”

As hard as this is, Thorn said, the videos are transforming the debate about abortion and exposing the ugliness. “I think we have to break the lie,” Thorn said. “You can’t break the lie without showing the videos I am afraid.”

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