February 14, 2014

Speakers stress commitment to culture of life at Great Lakes Gabriel Project fundraiser

Christine Lopez, coordinator of the Gabriel Project at SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, and her husband, Ryan, listen as Marianne Anderson shares her experiences working for the state’s largest abortion provider during a Great Lakes Gabriel Project dinner on Feb. 6 in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Christine Lopez, coordinator of the Gabriel Project at SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, and her husband, Ryan, listen as Marianne Anderson shares her experiences working for the state’s largest abortion provider during a Great Lakes Gabriel Project dinner on Feb. 6 in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Marianne Anderson was nervous as she walked up to the stage and turned to face the crowd.

It was the nurse’s first time ever to speak in public, and the crowd numbered more than 165 people.

But she had a story she needed to tell.

“My name is Marianne Anderson,” she started. “I’ve been a nurse for 32 years, including two-and-a-half miserable years at Planned Parenthood.”

Anderson was one of two keynote speakers at the Great Lakes Gabriel Project’s fundraiser dinner held on Feb. 6 at the Southside Knights of Columbus Council #3660 building in Indianapolis. (Related: Former local Planned Parenthood nurse shares her story of walking away from evil)

According to their website, Great Lakes Gabriel Project is a non-profit network of volunteers in various churches. They provide “peer counseling about abortion, and offer assistance to women and families experiencing difficult or unplanned pregnancies.”

The organization’s founder and executive director, Eileen Hartman, offered emotional, spiritual and even practical help to Anderson as the nurse sought to leave her job at the Planned Parenthood facility at 86th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis, where the most abortions occur in the state and where Anderson worked as a nurse from early 2010 through July of 2012.

“In 18 months I did over 1,000 IVs [for sedation], and only about half [of the women receiving an abortion] got IVs in that time,” Anderson said.

Among the experiences she shared (see related story that begins at the top of page 1), Anderson described what happened to the babies aborted at the abortion center.

“The doctor would come into the POC [products of conception] room with the dirty instruments in one hand and a jar in the other,” she said.

“In that jar was the products of conception. He would take the contents of that jar, pour it into a big strainer, sift through it to make sure all the parts were there, and then flush it down the toilet.

“The first time I saw that I just about threw up,” the mother of two and grandmother of one admitted.

Anderson saw an advertisement for Abby Johnson’s book, unPlanned, and ordered it. She contacted Johnson, whose book detailed her role as director of a large Planned Parenthood facility in Texas and how she left the abortion industry and became a pro-life advocate.

Through Johnson, Anderson was put in touch with Hartman, who encouraged the nurse in her efforts to leave Planned Parenthood.

Anderson now works as a nurse performing outpatient services at Community North Hospital, where she isn’t seeing girls and women from “everywhere under the sun” receive abortions.

“I took care of doctors getting abortions, nurses, young girls,” said Anderson. “I think the youngest was 13.

“I’d see these girls come in with sweatshirts from Catholic schools, Christian schools, everywhere under the sun.

“The cycle just has to be broken,” she said.

The secretary of the Indiana Knights of Columbus, Steve Cunningham, who spoke first during the event, shared with the crowd one story in which the cycle of abortion was broken.

He spoke of a young woman attending Indiana State University in Terre Haute who became pregnant.

Her parents helped her choose life, and she gave her baby boy up for adoption.

“That was 44 years ago,” said Cunningham. “And I am that baby boy.

“I stand before you now as the state secretary of the Indiana Knights of Columbus, as a Catholic gentleman, devoted husband and loving father of three, because standing out in the rain and praying in front of an abortion center for even one woman can turn her away from the doors of an abortion center,” said Cunningham.

The messages that speak of “civil rights” and a “war on women” are prevalent in society today, he said.

“Where has our message been lost? What have they done with our message of compassion and love?” he asked.

Great Lakes Gabriel Project strives to see that that message of compassion and love is not lost.

Christina Lopez, coordinator of the Gabriel Project at SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, attended the event, and described the organization’s role.

“What we try to do is assist moms who are in crisis pregnancies,” Lopez explained.

“Maybe they just need a friend, some spiritual, emotional or material support. We try to fill the void and, whatever they need, we try to be there for them.

“We just want to let the mothers out there who feel like there’s no out, to know that there’s somebody who does love them and wants to be there for them,” said Lopez.

Hartman announced during the evening that First Choice for Women, a service supported by the organization, made great strides recently toward preventing abortions.

First Choice for Women is a pregnancy resource center offering free peer counseling, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. The center is located just a few blocks from the Planned Parenthood facility where Anderson worked.

That was the service’s only location, until recently.

Seeking mobility and knowing a van would be too small to provide ultrasound services, Hartman and a few of her colleagues recently attended an RV show.

“We talked to this guy about what we were looking for, and he said to talk with Ken [Eckstein] of Mount Comfort RV.”

They did, and a design was drawn up to make a workable space out of the company’s smallest RV to allow room for intake and an ultrasound.

“So now we can be at more than one abortion center,” said Hartman, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. “We can go to churches. We can be there for women just considering what they want to do, get a free ultrasound, and get to know us and find out what other options are available.

“And it turns out that Ken is pro-life,” Hartman added. “It turns out that Ken, in fact, goes to St. Jude [Parish in Indianapolis].

“So now we have this wonderful design, which they told us we could have ready in a week, and the $100,000 RV has come down to half that price.”

With more than 165 pro-life advocates attending the Feb. 6 dinner, and more than 250 people taking part in a similar dinner at the Northside Knights of Columbus Council #3433 building on Feb. 11, Hartman said she hoped the RV would soon be paid for.

Hartman was singled out by Anderson during the former Planned Parenthood employee’s speech.

“I don’t know what I would have done without you,” she said to Hartman from the podium.

“The worst thing I ever did in my life was work at that Planned Parenthood [facility] for those two-and-a-half years,” she told the crowd.

“It’s been an ongoing journey for me, and it still is,” said Anderson. “Talking about it is painful, but talking about it is healing at the same time.”

(For more information on Great Lakes Gabriel Project, log on to www.glgabrielproject.org. For more information on First Choice for Women, log on to www.glgabrielproject.org/1stchoice.htm.)

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