Interview on March 16, 2023 with Stephanie, who is studying American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, outside the Student Center at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

Do you consider yourself religious?
Stephanie: Yes, devout Catholic. Church every Sunday, fellowships every week, and volunteering throughout the year. And raising my children in that faith. I have three children: fifteen, ten, and four years old. All except for the youngest have a pretty basic understanding of religion right now. I was raised in a Judeo-Catholic household: my stepfather was Jewish, my mom was Catholic. I was raised to be very tolerant and seek out other religions to learn about them.

If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?
Stephanie: For me personally, Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He died for my sins and that I may make a more positive life for future generations in letting them know that there was Someone Who loved them so much that He sacrificed Himself for us and for our well being. For others in a different denomination, or different religion, it might be that He was a prophet Who preached about God’s love for us and His commitment to teaching about tolerance and love and compassion so that we could teach that to future generations.

Why do you believe in God?
Stephanie: I’ve had enough happen in my life that could have turned out poorly and it has definitely made me believe that there is a higher power, a God, that helps navigate the way my life is supposed to be going. I have two children with special needs. Under that kind of pressure a lot of people could crumble, but having a belief system and knowing that there is Somone Who knows my path and knows that I am strong enough to hold onto – that is absolute to me.

Were you children’s conditions diagnosed before birth?
Stephanie: One was diagnosed before birth. He has two neurological conditions where parts of his brain didn’t fully form in utero and the other one is more learning disabilities that we found out over the last couple years. So they both have autism, they both have ADD/ADHD, as well, and it comes with its own amount of struggles, but I feel like my faith is kind of grounding me. God doesn’t give me more than I can handle and I’m able to wake up every day appreciative of that and saying, “Okay, He thinks I can go on one more day.” Let’s just take it one day at a time and do what I can to teach my kids compassion, love, and tolerance.

I asked that because many women who receive adverse prenatal diagnoses are pressured to abort – were you?
Stephanie: It’s funny that we discuss this because in my faith I am very pro-life. Or at least in my personal experience pro-life, but I’m not one to take that away from any other woman. I wouldn’t. No matter what road you choose, adoption, abortion, or taking care of a child, each decision has its own ramifications afterward. I don’t think that one person or one select group should be able to make that choice for the entire population. I know that makes me hypocritical in the eyes of the Church, but unfortunately we went through over a dozen miscarriages in our formation to building a family and that involved unfortunately having to terminate two because they were going to be suffering as soon as they were born and our personal choice was to not have them suffer. You can have faith in God without thinking that your choices are going to be absolute. There’s always forgiveness involved.

Do you think there is absolute right and wrong?
Stephanie: I think there are certain rules that are absolute right and wrong: don’t murder, don’t lie. On those rules you can’t have a gray area. There’s justifiables, always, and there’s times where it’s not justifiable.

You said murder is always wrong – do you think that abortion ends the life of a human being?
Stephanie: I can only speak for myself. It’s a gray area. I mentioned before that I had a few abortions due to medical circumstances and, while the law says that a child is not a child until they are born, it felt like murder to me. I went through severe depression over it afterward. I was able to reconcile with my priest and get counseling through my church on what I did and being open about it has definitely helped the healing process. I believe there are reasons for abortion, whether it be medical circumstances or an inability to care for a child. When it’s used as a form of birth control I don’t think it’s really a sound decision, and at that point there just needs to be better birth control options so that conception is not an end result.

If a biological male identifies himself as a woman, is he really a woman?
Stephanie: I don’t know enough about the subject to really make a formed opinion on it. I believe each person should be able to express who they really are, who they identify as. But I don’t know the research on it to be able to say, “Yes, a man is a man unless he chooses to be a woman,” or anything like that.

Do you believe in a life after death?
Stephanie: Yes. It’s a childlike mentality, but I believe there is definitely an afterlife and there are those who watch over us. I have to think, knowing that I had wonderful parents and grandparents who raised me, that they’re watching over me and my children now. Based on the teachings of the Church, there’s a heaven, there’s a hell, there’s purgatory, but I think that that is to the individual’s mind, really. Because I could believe that I’m doing all good things in my life, a faithful church-goer, I’m raising my kids right, but everyone’s got flaws and mistakes that they’ve made in their life and who am I to say where that person is going to be going afterward?

Watch a short video of Stephanie.