Health and Fitness

Miami Archdiocese group helps ladies who’ve had abortions


Project Rachel helps men and women affected by the trauma of abortion.


Linda Fernandez was 24 and 7 weeks pregnant when she walked into an abortion clinic.

She took some capsules — it was a medical abortion — after which there was a lot of blood and ache, the 31-year-old recalled.

“I was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk. So I was walking to the door of my house, I was crawling basically, and my mom opened the door … she was obviously scared,” mentioned Fernandez, who stored her resolution to have an abortion from her household. “But she tried to help me up and pick me up and take me to her bed, and in that moment, my mom actually just told me to rest and it’s going to be OK.”

As the times handed, Fernandez grew depressed. She felt ashamed. Her mother pushed her to go to church, the place she went to confession and was given pamphlets to Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard.

Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s post-abortion ministry within the U.S. that seeks to assist men and women recuperate from an abortion, mentioned Rebecca Brady, the director of Respect Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of Miami. In South Florida, this system is run by way of the Respect Life Office within the Archdiocese and works with folks in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. Its retreats are generally known as Rachel’s Vineyard.

Fernandez stored the pamphlets in her room. “Not yet. No, not yet.” Days handed. Eventually, she picked up the telephone and referred to as.

“It’s a battle,” mentioned Fernandez, who mentioned she took the recommendation of pals to get an abortion. “It’s really hard because it’s a lot of processing pain. So I remember that even in that year, I had to make a lot of changes in my life and surround myself with good influences, and people that would support me and understand what’s going on with me.”

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Linda Fernandez sporting a “Choose Hope” shirt in entrance of a Sidewalk Advocates for Life sales space. Courtesy of Linda Fernandez

No hyperlink between abortions, subsequent psychological well being points, group says

The American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this month, in response to the information that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, mentioned in an internet assertion that there’s “no research to indicate that abortion is a cause for subsequent mental health diagnoses.” Instead, it says banning abortions or creating extra restrictions on the process would doubtless damage ladies’s psychological well being.

In 2008, the APA assembled a process power to assessment scientific proof printed in peer-reviewed journals since 1989 on the hyperlink between abortion and psychological well being. In its report, it acknowledged that some ladies do expertise grief, disappointment and emotions of loss after terminating their being pregnant.

However, the duty power mentioned it couldn’t discover ample proof to “support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and a mental health problem was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.” It concluded that the “most methodologically sound research indicates that among women who have a single, legal, first-trimester abortion of an unplanned pregnancy for nontherapeutic reasons, the relative risks of mental health problems are no greater than the risks among women who deliver an unplanned pregnancy.”

For ladies like Fernandez who struggled together with her resolution afterwards, Project Rachel offers them a confidential house to speak and let “the pain in their heart out,” mentioned Marcela Villegas, a facilitator for Project Rachel and an ultrasound technician at one of many Archdiocese’s being pregnant facilities.

A leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and obtained by Politico exhibits the Supreme Court would overturn Roe. v. Wade, the 1973 courtroom resolution that mentioned ladies within the United States had a constitutional proper to decide on whether or not to have an abortion, when it guidelines on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That case challenges Mississippi’s 2018 legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks.

Four different Republican-appointed justices sided with Alito — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — in accordance with the draft opinion. A ultimate resolution is predicted in late June or early July.

If Roe v. Wade does finish, some states may introduce stricter abortion restrictions and even ban the process. In Louisiana, the state House is debating a invoice that would cost a girl with homicide (and people who help her) if she had been to have an abortion. (The state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, mentioned he would veto the measure.)

What is Project Rachel?

Project Rachel was initially based by Vicki Thorn in 1984 in Milwaukee. In South Florida, the Archdiocese of Miami has offered post-abortion counseling for 30 years and has helped greater than 900 men and women, Brady mentioned. The group offers assist companies by way of skilled clergy, laypeople and psychological well being professionals. It additionally has a confidential helpline.

While this system is Catholic, it’s open to anybody. In Catholicism, abortion is seen as a “grave sin” although its not an “unforgiveable sin,” in accordance with the Archdiocese of Miami’s Project Rachel webpage.

The individuals who be a part of Project Rachel have “suffered for years with pain and guilt and shame and have lived their life in such a way that without even realizing it, they were perhaps trying to compensate or atone for what they had done although they may not have acknowledged it at the time,” Brady mentioned. “But over the years, they have finally come to realize that that was what was happening.”

The program has helped ladies who had an abortion 10, 15 and even 30 years in the past, Villegas mentioned.

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Rebecca Brady, director of the Respect Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami.

“And you can see the change of their faces and the way that they dress and the way that they talk is amazing,” she mentioned. “Seeing the mercy of Jesus is amazing. “

Brady said the program is also open to men because they can be affected by the pains of abortion too. A husband, fiance or boyfriend, for example, might see signs that his partner was affected by an abortion and not know how to help her, she said. He might be struggling to come to terms with the loss of his child.

Brady said Project Rachel is also getting revamped, through the implementation of “Entering Canaan Ministry.” Starting within the fall, the Archdiocese will start to supply “Days of Prayer and Healing” the place folks will pray and listen to a sworn statement from a “survivor who has undergone healing,” she mentioned. There will probably be month-to-month group gatherings, which can concentrate on completely different themes associated to grief and loss processing. And weekend retreats that may let folks “go a little deeper because healing is a process. It’s like peeling, you know, layers from the onion,” she mentioned.

READ NEXT: Was abortion unlawful in Florida earlier than Roe v. Wade?

For Fernandez, who went to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, “It’s like they walk with you, they walk through the pain of what you go through. And you’re not alone. And so there’s people there that experience exactly what you’re experiencing, you’re recognizing that this is traumatic and this is a pain. And there’s healing, and there’s the other side of that, which is freedom.”

Fernandez mentioned {that a} massive a part of her therapeutic got here by acknowledging her aborted youngster and giving him a reputation: Joshua. It additionally led her to a brand new calling: Helping ladies discover options to abortions.

Giving out pamphlets outdoors of abortion clinics

She started volunteering at one of many Archdiocese’s being pregnant facilities, serving to ladies in “crisis pregnancies” find out about options and accessible assets. When she moved to Utah for an internship, she related with Pro Life Utah, the place she met a girl who launched her to Sidewalk Advocates for Life.

Fernandez mentioned the group sends folks to face on the sidewalk outdoors of abortion clinics and provides out pamphlets with alternate assets to ladies who’re contemplating the process.

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Linda Fernandez is the South East Program Coordinator for Sidewalk Advocates for Life. The group stands on the sidewalks outdoors of abortion clinics and provides pamphlets with alternate assets to ladies who’re contemplating the process. Courtesy of Linda Fernandez

“And my heart was just like, ‘This is it. Like, this is what people need and women need and men need out in front of these abortion facilities. They need love, they need compassion. They need help,’” mentioned Fernandez. ”And so as soon as I acquired that coaching, I knew that I needed to carry that again house.”

She’s now the South East Program Coordinator for Sidewalk Advocates for Life, which the Archdiocese of Miami has partnered with to place advocates in entrance of the 24 abortion websites in Miami-Dade and Broward.

While the explanations ladies think about abortions range, Fernandez believes that the “pain of abortion is real” and is “not something that you just bury within you.”

“I know what you’re going through and I understand you and that you are not alone,” Fernandez mentioned. “If you have experienced an abortion, there is healing, there is hope, and there is forgiveness from that.”


Here are some assets for pregnant ladies who’re in search of options to abortion, or who want assist after an abortion:

Archdiocese of Miami’s Project Rachel — Confidential hotline is 954-981-2984 or (888)456-4673. Project Rachel’s nationwide hotline — (888)456-HOPE or go to

The Archdiocese of Miami additionally has assets for pregnant ladies by way of its being pregnant well being facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The facilities present free being pregnant assessments, being pregnant counseling, ultrasound exams, mentoring teams for fathers and lessons on subjects akin to prenatal improvement, being pregnant, labor, postpartum new child care and toddler parenting. To schedule a go to, name 954-981-2922.

Healthy Start Florida offers free help statewide to pregnant ladies and youngsters as much as age 3. Services embrace assist in discovering a prenatal care supplier, breastfeeding lessons and connecting first-time mothers residing in poverty with a skilled nurse that may do house visits till your youngster turns 2. For the Healthy Start coalition in Miami-Dade, go to For Broward, go to For the Florida Keys, go to

This story was initially printed May 12, 2022 4:25 PM.

There’s by no means a boring second in Florida — and Michelle covers it as a Real Time/Breaking News Reporter for the Miami Herald. She graduated with honors from Florida International University, the place she served because the editor-in-chief of Student Media PantherNOW. Previously, she labored as a information author at WSVN Channel 7 and was a 2020-2021 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism fellow.

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