The following story was sent out by the Sacramento 40 Days for Life group on October 13 with this note: “Patricia worked at the Planned Parenthood here in Sacramento and is now helping the Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing ministry.”

My name is Patricia.

I have the best childhood memories. The only thing missing in our family was God. We never went to Mass on Sundays, never read the bible, and I had no idea how to pray the rosary. Since we didn’t have a strong religious foundation in our family, my mother practiced new-age beliefs and my parent’s marriage (and our family) fell apart. My parents divorced and my younger brother and I decided to live with our father. The divorce deeply wounded us all.

As a young girl, I was popular in school. I had good grades, won school recognition awards, and felt confident. I was definitely the apple of my father’s eyes. I noticed when I was 12 (when my parents began to have problems) that I started to pull out my hair when I was anxious or worried. it would actually make me feel better.

My father and I developed a close relationship when he was going through his divorce. We would go to the movies, shop and dine out often. In a way, this filled in the void for my mom. My father meant everything to me.

At 19 I had my first serious boyfriend. He was 5 years older than me and I cared for him very much. We became sexually active, which I was not prepared for. Looking back I think that the security, love and unity that was lost in my family, I tried to find in my relationship with my boyfriend. A couple of months into our sexually active relationship “bingo” I was pregnant. All my dreams and goals just went down the drain.

The one thing that struck my heart the most was the thought of disappointing my father. How could I do this when he is still grieving over his divorce? How am I going to leave him alone and also abandon him? The gossip in our family will humiliate him after he speaks so fondly of me to everyone.

That night I gave my boyfriend the news. He was so happy and joyful to be a father. That gave me a feeling of security and support so we decided to keep the baby. My friends at the time were not too pleased with my pregnancy. One of my best friends at the time did not have the courage to tell me in person how she felt about my pregnancy so she sent me a sentimental letter in the mail. The letter basically said that I was making a complete mistake, I was too young to be a mother and I had a long future to look forward too. Therefore, I should get an abortion before 4 months and a half – before I’m too far along.

Soon all my friends ganged up on me and felt the same way. I knew they wanted the best for me but it was pure ignorance. I was so confused at this point. I decided to proceed with my abortion and I would lie to my mother and boyfriend and tell them I had a miscarriage.

The day of my abortion my girlfriend accompanied me. I was very scared. When I was brought into the procedure room the doctor saw that I was nervous. She tried to calm me down by saying, “Patricia, I had two abortions myself and I performed two abortions on my daughter, she is ok, I am ok and you are going to be ok also. Look at me. Everything is fine. You are not doing anything wrong. This will only take 5 minutes.”

I have to admit I did feel better especially when she told me that she went through the same thing. During the procedure, as the baby was getting sucked out of my womb, I felt disgusted with myself and felt like the biggest traitor to my child. Deep down I knew I was doing something horrible, but, at the same time I felt relieved. The “problem” was taken care of. That night I told my boyfriend the news. I lied and said I miscarried. He cried and was devastated, but I expressed no emotion. The guilt and shamed buried my feelings.

As our relationship continued, my feelings towards him started to change. I was less attracted to him and I was unsure about him. At times I started to feel some depression and inner grief and I didn’t understand why. The clinic where I had my abortion encouraged me to resume my sexual relationship but this time practicing safe sex. They gave me birth control pills, but, I was taking them irresponsibly. 4 or 5 months after my abortion “round two” I was pregnant for the second time. How could I be such an idiot and put myself in this same situation? Immediately I knew I was not going to keep this child. I booked my appointment at Planned Parenthood because it would be embarrassing to go back to the clinic I just recently had my first abortion at. What would they think of me? This abortion was quick, emotion-less and no one knew about it. I still felt ashamed of myself.

The relationship with my boyfriend (on my end) worsened. I had a hard time kissing him or being affectionate. I felt disgusted by him. As my depression and grief increased, I felt more distant from my boyfriend.

6 months later, you guessed it, I was pregnant for the third time. I gave my boyfriend the news again and he was so excited. I gave him all my reason on why we should not have this baby and basically forced him to go with me to the abortion clinic. He did not want to but he was scared I would leave him.

During the third abortion I was very emotional. My boyfriend was terrified for me and he would squeeze my hand tightly. I looked up and saw the tears flowing from his eyes. At that very moment I thought to myself, “What a wicked person I am, he is thinking this is my first abortion when I have already killed two of our children. I am trash. I am a killer, a murderer.” Our relationship after that grew further and further apart but it was mostly me. I couldn’t bare him touching me. I waited a few weeks and I broke off the relationship. He was devastated and completely heartbroken. I had no emotions. He would not leave me alone so I decided to move to Sacramento, California and start my life over.

I needed a job in California. I saw an ad in the newspaper that Planned Parenthood was seeking a bilingual person for back office work. I thought to myself, “This is awesome – I want to work for Planned Parenthood since they were so nice and caring when I had my second abortion – plus, they provided me with free condoms and birth control pills.”

I interviewed with the manager at Planned Parenthood. She said, “Ok – we do about 40 abortions a week, 20 on Wednesdays and 20 on Fridays.” I told her I had no problem with seeing blood and she told me that Hispanic woman and African-American woman were the 2 top ethnicities having the most abortions in their clinic.

I was hired on the spot. My first day was on a Monday. Mondays were consultation days at Planned Parenthood. The manager instructed me, “You must do everything in your power 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, a he, or a she. You call their baby an “it.”

When she said these things to me I was shocked. It seemed hypocritical and deceiving. Something inside didn’t feel right. I didn’t think too much about it and began counseling woman and young girls (in English and in Spanish) and encouraging them to have their abortions – giving them my full support.

Wednesday came – my first day assisting the doctor with the abortions. My manager that morning instructed me, “Patricia never ever tell a woman what you see happen in the back office after the abortions are performed. You must never tell the patient that we basically throw their baby away in the garbage.” I was appalled by this. Is she really saying this to me so bluntly? I didn’t know what to think.

With the first patient, I held her hand while she underwent her abortion. Of course she was crying uncontrollably and she nearly fainted. After the procedure was over, my job was to take the bag attached to the machine that was used to perform the abortion, empty the bag out in a back room and dump all the contents out onto a huge glass petri- dish. 5 body parts were to be found in order to give the physician the “ok” that the abortion was successful and the patient was able to leave the procedure room.

When the medical assistant who was training me emptied out the contents from the bag into the petri-dish I couldn’t handle the smell. She then grabbed a pair of tweezers and started searching inside the petri-dish. She then found an arm, grasped it with the tweezers and held it up to the light. She said, “This is one part -it’s the arm.” I could see the detail in the baby’s hand, the knuckles and the fingernails formed. She then found the second arm. I was horrified at what I was witnessing. I tried to act normal like it wasn’t affecting me. She then lifted one of the legs up to the light with the tweezers. I could see the small tiny hairs on the skin, the lines around the knees forming and the toenails. But when she held up the head of the baby, that’s when I knew I had murdered my three children. On the head I could see the nose, the nostrils, the eyelashes and even the eyebrows forming.

I thought to myself “My God what have I done? I was also lied to and deceived.” 20 body parts would get thrown into this bag and at the end of the day the bag is tied into a knot and placed inside this big freezer. It turns into a block of ice. The place looked like a holocaust on abortion days. I was falling into more depression working there. I would cry at my lunch hour in my car almost every day. One day, I left and never went back.

My self esteem was so low and I wasn’t that confident gal I once was. I started dating, what you might say was, a loser who was also a drug addict. I started doing Cocaine. I had experienced it before but didn’t do it habitually. I would tell my boyfriend that I felt a deep grief and depression and he recommended doing Cocaine when I felt those emotions because it helped to numb the pain.

My boyfriend then showed me how to smoke Methamphetamine out of a pipe. The rest is history. I became extremely addicted quickly. I was living a whole different life with different people. I didn’t know who I was; I was so lost. Little by little I started losing my possessions. I lost everything 6 months later. I was severely addicted to smoking speed/crack for about 3 years.

During those three years I would sleep in motels, cars, hung out on sidewalks for the night or slept in the homes of drug dealers or other crack addicts. I was around people who were deeply addicted to heroin, people who possessed guns and people who had warrants out for their arrest. I had so much anxiety especially when I was high. Of course the hair pulling trauma worsened. I pulled so much hair out daily, I soon had bald patches everywhere. I was frail, thin, and my bones where starting to pop out, especially my ribs. My eyes developed dark circles and were sunken in. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person I was looking at. I would just see an empty person looking back at me. I was a dead woman walking. I completely lost my identity.

Towards the end of my addiction, I would hear voices speak to me and I would speak back to them and argue with them. I was spun. One day while in a motel room with a bunch of drug addicts my boyfriend and I got into a huge argument. He snapped his fingers at me and told me to leave. I didn’t know where to go so I sat down onto the sidewalk in the motel parking lot. I then saw all my “friends” get into a car and leave me. I was all alone – with no food, no water, no friends, no family and no drugs. I sat there all day. I curled up into a semi fetal possession with my head buried into my knees and I sobbed and sobbed. I had nothing. I hit the lowest point I could possibly hit, rock bottom.

At that moment, I felt God’s presence looking down at me. I lifted my head up while still in tears and started to speak to Him. I told Him, “You are all that I have left. I don’t know how I let my life end up this way. I want to thank you for the beautiful childhood and family you gave to me and I’m sorry I ruined my life. Thank You for everything.”

As soon as I finished my short conversation with the Lord, a young blonde girl my age (22) with a name tag that said “Bonnie” knelt down beside me, embraced me with a hug, looked at me in the eyes and said, “Jesus loves you.”  I looked back at her – confused. She smiled and said “I’m a waitress at the restaurant right over there. I was taking an order and the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Look out that window and tell that girl sitting on that curb that I love her and that I will never abandon nor forsake her until the end of times.” So I put my order down to come out and tell you this.”

I couldn’t believe God responded so quickly. I was amazed. Bonnie took me into the restaurant and with the sweetest smile told me to order whatever meal that was on the menu. She was a daughter of a pastor and she told me she would drive me wherever home was. And she did.

After being away from my father’s home for 3 years, there I was standing at his front door. I was so nervous and I shook as I knocked on the door. My father opens the door to see his little princess looking like a skeleton with hardly any hair and deep sadness in her eyes. I started bawling and threw myself to his feet and begged his forgiveness – very much the prodigal daughter.

Years went by and I would hear people talking about Rachel’s Vineyard retreats (for healing after abortion) or I would see a pamphlet from time to time. I would avoid thinking about going because I made the decision that it was not for me. I thought to myself, “No way, I already went to confession. Jesus has healed me and there’s nothing more healing in this area He could possibly do for me.” I admit I was ashamed and I was frightened.

When Valerie Fish, the coordinator of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in Northern California called to help me register for the retreat, the tone of her voice and the love she transmitted made me feel peaceful and at ease.

When I arrived, the staff was so caring and loving. They made me feel extremely comfortable and welcome. That weekend was so powerful and transforming for me. God revealed many things to me and not only did he heal the wounds from my three abortions, he also healed the open wounds I still had regarding my parent’s divorce and my past drug addiction.

The most powerful thing for me that weekend was that I went in the retreat feeling like a murderer a horrible sinner who aborted three children. When I left the retreat, I realized that I was a MOTHER of three beautiful children that Jesus and Mary were taking care of and that they’re waiting to meet me one day in heaven. My heart was so joyful.

My first child, my daughter, is named Marianna in honor of the Virgin Mary. The second child, my son, is named Emmanuel in honor of Jesus. My third child, my daughter is named Rose in honor of the Rosary.

That weekend I made a vow to my three children. Since I terminated their life and didn’t give them a chance to live, in their honor I would do everything I could to stand up and defend life.

God has blessed me to be a part of the Rachel’s Vineyard staff and to share my testimony in front of hundreds of youth in the Bay area. God has also blessed me to be leader in our first Spanish Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in Northern California beginning in October 2011.

But, the biggest blessing is that God gave me spiritual parents in Valerie and Bob Fish. Valerie has guided me spiritually, and, through her, God has blessed me to be His servant. I thank God for the opportunity to share my testimony. But, my testimony is not about me – it’s about Him and for His glory. Amen.