.- Ramona Trevino has a compelling story to tell about her exodus from the nation's largest abortion provider. But in her first public appearance, she chose to emphasize what God accomplished through a vigil outside the clinic she used to manage.
“My message is to glorify God, and to glorify what wonderful things all of you are doing and continue to do. I'm so excited, and honored, to hopefully be a part of that,” she told 40 Days for Life participants at a recent event outside the defunct Planned Parenthood facility in Sherman, Texas.
“People like me everywhere are waiting for a miracle. And that is indeed what happened … Three months later, this place is out of business.”
Trevino, its former manager, had already taken a “leap of faith” on May 6, “leaving behind my job … half of my family's income.” It meant “having to worry about how we were going to survive, and pay the mortgage, and put food on the table.”
She told the assembled members of 40 Days for Life that there had been “a tugging in my heart, on and off, during the three years that I was managing. And it was a tugging that it shames me to say, I did ignore.”
Although Trevino's clinic did not perform abortions, she “still had a hand in the referrals. I still had to give out the number, I still had to give out the information on the locations … where they could get an abortion.”
“That's a truth I finally had to face. And that was a truth that would be brought to light due to the wonderful 40 Days for Life vigil that was held out here.”
In an interview with CNA, Trevino gave more details of her story, explaining how she tried to reconcile her Catholic faith with her work at Planned Parenthood. She also described the dramatic change of heart that coincided with the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
“I was raised Catholic, but I didn't really have a lot of formation in my faith as a kid,” said Trevino. “When I was a little girl … I felt like I was being called to the religious life.” But she “didn't have the formation, as a young child, to elaborate on that calling.”
Instead of becoming a nun, Trevino became pregnant in high school. She left school, and was in a non-Catholic marriage for eight years.
Two years after her subsequent marriage within the Church, Trevino learned about a part-time position at Planned Parenthood from a coworker at her former government job. She had gone through more extensive Catholic formation to prepare for marriage, but still lacked a proper understanding of issues surrounding sexuality and human life.
“I think there was still a lot about my faith that I didn't know – that I didn't get,” she recalled.
Trevino, who says she was “always pro-life,” also lacked an understanding of Planned Parenthood's leading role in the abortion industry. She associated the organization mostly with contraception, which she regarded as wrong for Catholics, but not for others.
“It didn't take me long before I became uncomfortable working there,” she remembered. “It was probably within the first three or four months. The thing that struck me hard was when I had to do my first referral for an abortion.”
“We provided pregnancy tests. So a lot of women would come in to confirm pregnancy, and if they were pregnant sometimes they would want an abortion. And we would have to counsel them on the information, the referrals, how far along they were, and that type of thing.”
“I remember the very first time I had to do that. I went into my office, I closed the door, and I cried. I guess it was something that I didn't think I was actually going to have to do. I was naïve, and I was too focused on the opportunity of being a manager.”
The referrals came relatively infrequently in the small Texas town, and other staff sometimes handled them. When they did occur, Trevino found ways to soothe her conscience.
“I would say prayers for them, and I would justify my actions all the time. I'd come home a wreck, and ask my husband 'Am I guilty?' And I would talk myself out of it, to justify it: 'Really, I'm not making the decision for her; when she walks out the door or gets off the phone, it's up to her what she does. I really am not responsible for what she chooses.''”
“I would constantly try to feed myself lies,” she said. “Eventually it got to me. I wasn't standing up for those babies. I wasn't trying to save their lives … Over time, I couldn't deny it to myself anymore.”
Trevino also became disillusioned with policies she said were geared toward “pushing things on people” for financial gain. “It's about making money. You didn't get the sense that they really, truly cared about these women they way they say they did.”
But the clinic manager's decision to leave Planned Parenthood and its practices behind, is mysterious even to her.
“I can't explain it on a human level. To me, it's all divine.”
The point when she says “everything began to change” was December 2010. She tuned in to her local Catholic radio station for the first time, and heard a show on women's post-abortion experiences. Almost every caller spoke of having an abortion through Planned Parenthood. She also learned about “the workings of contraception,” and its ability to cause an abortion.
“I began to tune in every day,” she said. She learned about Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood employee who chronicled her pro-life conversion in the bestselling book “UnPlanned.”
One night, coming back from the clinic, “I was listening to Catholic radio … I remember a woman saying: 'One day, when we die and we meet our maker, he's going to ask: “What did you do to prevent and stop abortion?”’ Right there, it was like a dagger in my heart.”
She began praying the Rosary during Lent, and said that on the third day, “the blinders just completely came off my eyes.” She dropped her excuses about working at a non-abortion-facility, and “understood why working for Planned Parenthood was wrong.”
“Shortly after, the first 40 Days for Life vigil was held outside the clinic. I got the courage to go out and talk to them, and ask for their prayers.” Trevino says she felt the strength God gave her through the prayers of the pro-life volunteers.
And it's possible that another intercessor, whom the Church celebrated just after Easter, may have been offering his prayers as she neared her decision.
“It was on Divine Mercy Sunday, the day that Blessed Pope John Paul II was beatified … At that time, I said I was probably going to leave Planned Parenthood in June. But I remember, on Divine Mercy Sunday … I just couldn't control my tears. Because at that moment I just felt God calling me.”
“I just took that leap of faith, and trusted God, and said: 'I'm out. I'm done.'”
Trevino, who hopes to pursue a pro-life ministry in the future, will give a keynote speech in Dallas on Sept. 27 as 40 Days for Life begins its fall campaign.