Pro-life advocates marked another victory for women and children on March 25—as Florida Governor Rick Scott signed H.B. 1411, a state law which restricts abortion through several provisions. Florida becomes the 12th state to halt taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, whose national network of clinics performs more abortions than any other organization.
Nearly a century ago on October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in New York City. The Big Apple hasn’t fared well under its control. Every day in New York City, more black children are aborted than are born. New York also has the highest abortion ratio of any state in the nation.
One young woman born and raised in New York City feels the weight of these statistics in a tangible, personal way… and she’s determined to bring healing, one life at a time. After suffering from multiple abortions over a decade ago, today Monique Ortega is studying to be a counselor to help post-abortive women—along with raising her teenage son.
Ortega also leads a small prayer team outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in her Bronx neighborhood, part of her role heading up a local Bound4LIFE chapter since 2012. Soft-spoken and at times emotional during our interview, Monique Ortega tells of her personal experiences, the harmful trends she sees affecting the next generation and why she still has hope.
Bound4LIFE: You recently spent a semester working at a crisis pregnancy center. How did it change your understanding of what women face?
Monique Ortega: My time at the crisis pregnancy center showed me that I wasn’t the only female who suffered from a pattern of homelessness combined with a lack of family. It’s been over 14 years since my personal experience with abortion, yet the pattern continues. These are ongoing obstacles for at-risk women here in New York City.
It broke me to see them trapped in that shared pain; it brought me back to when I was 19. I had a boyfriend but a very unstable life. Within two years, I was pregnant. Not having family support, since the family I had were either in prison or unconcerned about me, I felt alone and fearful of being a parent and had insecurities about being unable to provide a home for my child.
I didn’t have a relationship with God then. I figured, Well, if abortion is legal, it must be okay. I did not think about man-made laws being wrong, though they are sometimes. I made the choice of terminating my pregnancy. It was my solution to an unstable environment. I justified my abortion by believing that I would forget it happened and suppressed my emotions.
Being in a crisis pregnancy center 14 years later, listening to the same story gave me such grief. I thought, This is still happening?
Bound4LIFE: How does the issue of abortion impact New York City, specifically where you live in the Bronx?
Monique Ortega: Many people know abortion is prevalent in New York City, particularly in the minority communities. Of the city’s five boroughs, The Bronx is where abortions are most common; it’s the epicenter of our national abortion tragedy.
New York City has a materialistic mentality of wealth, comfortability and convenience, rather than understanding that we need more families. There needs to be more love and compassion—not just in your immediate family, but also across the community.
Abortion keeps women in darkness—in a lot of shame, guilt and depression with no place to go for hope. I’ve seen a lot of fear in several females whom I counsel. This time I was holding their hand with love, educating them with more resources and providing free sonograms.
Through prayer, deliverance, healing and coming to know the Lord, today I am able to relate to them in that dark place where they’ve been. The Lord started to reveal to me that my experience could help others, just by speaking truth into their brokenness. God is more concerned with stability of faith then short-term relief.
There needs to be an increase of God’s wisdom today. New York City needs to have that breakthrough, and by God’s grace many intercessors like myself will be a part of that—to bring education to others, and pray for a spirit of purity.
The abortion rate in New York has been decreasing for six consecutive years, hitting record lows. This, I believe, is God awakening hearts in New York to prayer! If we follow God’s way, there can be healing in these fatherless, broken situations. These women need to know that God loves them and He forgives.
Bound4LIFE: New York City is known as a trendsetter for the entire nation. What trends do you see among the next generation that people should be noticing?
Monique Ortega: The most important trends I’ve noticed in this generation are fatherlessness, faithless marriages and a lack of purity. Within these trends lies a pattern: resulting in leaving some destitute in the streets, or within families lacking the presence of good men… sometimes lacking the presence of men altogether.
Some females had prior abortions before coming to the pregnancy center; some of them had other children. But there are no father figures in those kids’ lives. Many men abandon their responsibility, and some independent women don’t feel they need men.
Another trend is a lack of purity. Parents are not educating their children at home, allowing the system to do the damage.
I took my son on a tour of the local public high school a few months ago. He whispered to me at one point, “Mom, did you see what they had on the wall?” I was thinking, It’s a spider or something creepy, he knows I get scared. “No, what is it?” He continued in a hushed tone: “They had condoms in a box, out for all the kids to take.”
Now I’m thankful my 15 year-old son was aware that was wrong. But if you’re not teaching your children what is right or wrong, the schools are ready to impose their own loose morals and low expectations on your kids.
Bound4LIFE: A recent law proposed in Alaska bans abortion providers from providing instruction in schools. Do you believe Planned Parenthood is targeting high schools?
Monique Ortega: Planned Parenthood is entering a lot of public schools. One teenage girl told me recently how, in her school, things were getting very uncomfortable for her.
Just this year, Planned Parenthood came in and began promoting contraceptives very openly; their health representative was always on campus, in the office right next to her classroom.
It motivated this girl and her mom to seek out a Christian high school, where she has found the environment more suitable for her. The commute is difficult and they have late nights, but she’s sticking it out because she feels safer there.
In the Bronx, a few of my friends saw a research study advertised at Planned Parenthood not long ago. Apparently Montefiore Medical Group worked with a local college to run trials for this new contraceptive; it wasn’t a pill. They were paying females from ages 18-45 to see if it would protect them from becoming HIV positive.
Many of the younger women, they were intentionally introducing them into having sex. Like, Go have sex and report back if this works or not. They were paying $700; who knows how many took that incentive? It was horrible.
Bound4LIFE: Do you have hope for the next generation?
Monique Ortega: Yes, I have hope for this next generation. It’s true my son lacked some things from the father figure in his life, such as love and protection. Now I am encouraging him to pray and be there for others; so are leaders within our church.
God has created two parents—mother and father—to balance strength, compassion and identity. Men are created for significance to protect, love and provide for their families… not to use, abandon or harm women and children.
In the scriptures, we read in Luke 1:17: “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” I have been praying this scripture for over two years now because I believe in revival, the reconciliation of families and the power of God through prayer!
My son’s generation is coming to learn how the Lord uses individuals to change and break those chains. He’s learning how to be an advocate for the voiceless, as together we pray to be mindful of the brokenhearted.
Josh M. Shepherd serves in communications at Bound4LIFE International, a grassroots movement to pray for the ending of abortion, carry the spirit of adoption and believe for revival and reformation. He previously served on staff at The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family and in the U.S. Congress.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: April 5, 2016