I had to leave my heart at home.
I went to work for a Sacramento abortion mill in the first week of September 1990. Before then, the word "abortion" had seldom passed through my mind, and I had no concept of what one actually was. I had lived a "dysfunctional" life and the sacredness of human life was not something I thought of much.
My official title at the mill was "health worker." I did various duties-lab work, leading groups (deceiving women about their abortions), "advocating" (deceiving women during their abortions), and assisting the abortionist, which included helping during the abortion and checking to make sure all the parts of the baby were there in the collection jar afterwards. I will never forget, in the second-trimester abortions, holding those little feet up to a chart on the wall to make sure of the age of the baby.
Just like everyone else employed there I laughed at the pro-lifers outside the mill and hardened my heart against the truth. If I thought about what was really happening, it became overwhelming. So, I treated the whole issue as a joke-but somewhere along the line God started working on my heart. I started to read literature left by the pro-lifers, and pro-life books. I began to see what I was doing in a whole new light. I saw these babies for what they were-human beings. It was very hard for my heart and head to accept because I had been leaving both my heart and head at home for so long to work there.
I began looking towards God and sometimes visiting church and reading the Bible. I know that the only thing keeping me from accepting Christ into my life was the fact that I was involved in murder-the murder of those made in His image. After working there eight months, I could no longer resist God-He had awakened me to the ugliness of abortion. I knew that in every abortion a living human being is killed, and I believe that a part of the mother is killed too. In May of 1991 I left the mill and believed that I had shut the door on my abortion experience.
After leaving the mill, I accepted the Lord into my heart and my life, and was baptized. After years of searching, I found my true home in the Catholic Church, into which I was fully received on April 2, 1994. I am now married to a kind and loving man and we have two beautiful boys.
It was during my pregnancies that I began to deal with my experience in the mill. I know now that I was experiencing post-abortion syndrome-just as if I'd had an abortion myself, only I felt even worse because I had participated in hundreds of them. God worked on my heart for a long time, showing me His forgiveness, letting me know that I had to forgive myself because He had work for me to do. In early 1994 I finally felt ready to respond to the Lord's calling. I began to sidewalk counsel, picket, and speak publicly. I know I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do, and I was warned and knew that Satan hates God's people and their work for Him.
There have been difficult times, with much persecution and attacks from Satan, but I know that the Lord is my protector; His works will prevail! I took a break from my sidewalk counseling to strengthen myself in the Lord-and then He told me it was time to go back. I just am so grateful that He pulled me out of the darkness and into the light. He has shown me how terribly evil abortion is. He has shown me how precious life is. He has shown me that every preborn baby is His child, and that no one has the right to take that life. He has shown me that there is forgiveness and healing in Him. For those who have participated in abortions or had abortions I pray that the pro-death people will have their hearts changed and believe that life is the only "choice."
My walk with God has not been easy. Life is full of ups and downs, joy and pain. But I know that He is always there beside me. He has blessed me beyond anything I ever imagined, and continues to do so. He can do the same for anyone if He is only asked to.
I think it's important to pray for those women who are considering abortion and also for those caught up in the evil of the abortion industry, that they will see the truth and be set free. Abortion is not just a "choice," it is a destructive, life-taking act that will only bring pain and loss to those involved.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Epilogue By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life
Dina's story is a living example of the words of St. James, "Mercy triumphs over judgment." The Church clearly teaches that abortion is wrong. The Church also teaches that sinners will always find welcome and forgiveness when, by God's grace, they repent.
God was merciful to Dina. He did not allow her to "leave her heart at home" forever. He spoke to her heart. He broke her heart with sorrow over abortion. When He welcomed her into the Church, the Church rejoiced. Dina first wrote to me after she saw a letter of mine in the papers telling the story of the conversion of another abortion provider, Joy Davis, who was received into the Church on the same night Dina was, in another city. God knows how many there are like them.
The Church works for the conversion of all abortion providers, all women who have had abortions, and all society. The Church longs to extend Christ's mercy to every person. May all who are caught in the snare of abortion, as Dina was, respond to God's grace and repent. Mercy triumphs over judgment! Pro-lifers must never be silent! Continue to take to the streets! Continue to save babies! Continue to pray the Rosary! Continue to wake up America about abortion!
1995 American Life League