Rebecca Rizzi was five weeks pregnant and desperately looking for a way out — any way out.
Despite her qualms and personal opposition to abortion, she had reluctantly made up her mind: Terminating the pregnancy was for the best.
Rizzi setup an appointment at a Planned Parenthood in Tempe, Ariz., last May and subsequently drove there to learn more about the procedure. As she was en route to the clinic, her mind raced, as she secretly wanted to find a way to escape an act that she believed deep in her heart was morally wrong.
“I felt I had to do it,” the 24-year-old told TheBlaze. “It was a situation where I hadn’t talked to my family in a long time — same with my friends.”
Feeling isolated, Rizzi had convinced herself, despite her inner most inclinations, that abortion was her only option.
When she arrived at Planned Parenthood, she noticed pro-life protesters standing outside. Rizzi said she knew their message about the sanctity of life was true, but entered the clinic anyway.
Once inside, she sat down in a crowded waiting room and waited. And as she waited, doubts reemerged in her mind.
Each time someone opened the door to enter or exit, Rizzi could hear the protesters outside — a convicting sound that stirred something deep within her heart.
Feeling as though she couldn’t go through with the abortion, she walked outside to take a break and that’s when she encountered Sherry Pierce, one of the protesters with the “Refuge in the Desert” ministry.
Rizzi decided to approach her.
“I kind of went over to chat and I think I had it set in my mind really not to be dismissive of what they were trying to do, but I was going to ask if they thought what they were doing would actually make a difference,” she said.
Pierce, who told TheBlaze that she believes God brought Rizzi to her that day, asked the young woman why she felt abortion was the only answer.
“We were calling out and she came over to us,” said Pierce. “Truly God brought her to us … The Lord caused her to come over.”
The conversation made a big impact and inevitably showed Rizzi that there were other avenues she could pursue.
“Sherry asked me to tell her what was going on, why I had to feel like I had to do this. She told me there were all these resources,” Rizzi recalled. “She took me to the pregnancy crisis center, and I think that day I had changed my mind after what Sherry said to me.”
She continued, “I had it set in my mind that I could do this and put the baby up for adoption. I could live with that.”
After Rizzi decided to continue with her pregnancy, Pierce put action to her words, supporting the young woman throughout her pregnancy, at one point even saying she would personally adopt her baby.
But then Rizzi found something out — a surprising fact that had a profound impact: She was carrying twins.
Faced with changing circumstances, Rizzi decided she wanted to raise her babies.
“I really was set on adoption. I told myself initially as long as I don’t think of them as being mine, then I would be able to do that,” she said. “Once I found out they were twins and I thought about our life together and what it could be [I changed my mind].”
Rizzi delivered Olivia Grace and Kara Shea last month and, so far, she says motherhood has been “exciting.”
She also had a message for pregnant women who find themselves desperate and in similar situations.
“I would say to seek help … I didn’t realize how many resources there were to women in my position,” Rizzi said. “There’s so many options and resources.”
Pierce has continued to provide support, holding a baby shower for Rizzi and offering help and assistance along the way.
“I was at the hospital with her family when she was in labor and have been to visit and take food since,” Pierce said. “She has become like family to us all. … I try to check in daily through text with her to see how she and the babies are doing and if they need anything.”
Pierce’s “Refuge in the Desert” ministry regularly stands outside the Tempe Planned Parenthood location, calling out to mothers and fathers as they go inside. In addition to working to deter them from seeking abortions, the Christian group provides information about free ultrasounds, counseling and adoption services.
“Of course we include a gospel tract because we don’t want to be just another pro-life group out there,” Pierce explained. “It is the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power unto salvation and He alone transforms hearts and minds. So we call out to offer help, and hope and to warn. We literally have a brief time because it takes them about 30 seconds to get to the door.”
As for Rizzi, she’s overjoyed she didn’t choose abortion — and she’s prepared to speak out against it.
“When I left Planned Parenthood last May, I was so happy that I didn’t have to have an abortion. I knew I needed to remain focused on the positive and became absolutely determined to do what’s best for my daughters,” Rizzi said.
She added, “No woman, in her right mind wants to have an abortion. I’m so glad I gained enough courage to save my daughters in the midst of so much uncertainty.”
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