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Ronnajean Tarantino Murphy as Mrs. Scottsdale
Ronnajean crowned
Mrs. Scottsdale

Queenly Wisdom

Erika Harold, Miss America 2003

Ronnajean Tarantino MurphyRonnajean (and yes, her brother is Quentin Tarantino!) was adopted as an infant. She located her biological parents as an adult. She appeared to be the girl next door, the smart one, and the beauty queen. And although it seemed that she had it all as a high school cheerleader, member of the high school student council, and the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including Miss Arizona National Teen, her life has taken some very hard turns. She describes herself as "the mother of six children, two of whom have been lost to abortion in my early years." What followed was involvement with alcohol and drugs, attempted suicide, divorce, remarriage, multiple bouts of depression and post-abortion syndrome therapy.

Today, Ronnajean speaks to teens helping them overcome misguided information about abortion and helping them to recognize and receive counseling for post abortion.

Her Message:
I had the life all the other high school girls wanted and I was the girl the boys wanted to date. I was Miss Arizona National Teen, Co-Captain of the Pom Squad, Secretary, French Club, Honors courses and so on. What they didn’t know was that by the time I was 16 I had two abortions and had attempted suicide.

I spent the next 15 years pretending that my life was great. The truth was, I had mentally blocked out the events, much like victims of traumatic stress (rape, car accident, assault). I filled up every second of my day with commitments; I was over committed. But this wasn’t the only problem. After the father of my babies and I split, I married, had my first born child and divorced in a year. Within months, I was in another relationship. Within two years, I became pregnant for the fourth time. As my life spiraled down, much like a drug addict, I married this man. A year later, I was pregnant for the fifth time and my relationship was a disaster. I lived in pity, shame, guilt, regret and pain. But didn’t know why.

Then, while pregnant for the sixth time, I had a flashback while driving home. I could see myself curled up in a ball, the fetal position, on my couch crying and in pain. I didn’t understand this vision. But it continued, much like a bad movie racing around from scene to scene in no apparent order. I remembered being excited about the pregnancy and getting married. I remembered the conversations with my mom and the doctors about how this would ruin my life and all of my dreams. This was the only answer. It was for the best. Then I remembered the second pregnancy. That time Planned Parenthood said I was too far along for the clinic. I had to go to a special doctor. In that waiting room were pregnant women, the irony. The doctors and my mom said the same thing. Except this time it was different. I was 5 months along. The doctor admitted he needed to change the ultrasound due date because by the time the termination would occur, I would be in my sixth month. When I returned to the office, the doctor inserted several needle like objects into me vaginally. I was told this was to open my cervix and shrink my uterus. I was then sent home with warnings of cramp like feelings occurring. The worst memory of all is what happened next. While the procedure was taking place, the sedation wore off. To my right was my son lying on a metal table. Doctors and nurses were prodding at him. When I started asking questions they drugged me back up.

Those are the only pieces I remember. For the duration of my sixth pregnancy, I compared every month of growth for this baby with the baby I aborted. It was a living hell. I thought for sure God would serve justice on me by giving me an abnormal child or taking this baby by death or kidnapping after birth. A year after his healthy birth, I started seeing a therapist to begin working through the pain and other emotions that had taken over my life and my energy.

But, my marriage continued to spiral down. I hated sex. I wanted nothing to do with it. And I was emotionally a wreck. My husband didn’t understand. He simply said what’s done is done, you can’t take it back, so move on. I hated him for saying that. I couldn’t move on. I had come to realize with the birth of my last child that I committed murder, not once but twice. I questioned how I was any different from the moms that leave their newborn babies for dead in dumpsters.

Since then, I turned much of my attention to learning about post abortion syndrome and the pro-life movement. Oh, this coming from a women who once dreamed of becoming a corporate attorney and then lobbying in Washington on behalf of the pro-choice movement. But, I learned that post abortion syndrome occurs in almost 100% of the women who have abortions. The symptoms include emotional numbness, blacking out the event, suicide/attempted suicide, depression, obsession with becoming pregnant again, hasty marriages and divorce. Gee, where have you heard this before?

The physical symptoms for at least 10% of women include becoming sterile, losing use of their cervix (can’t carry a wanted pregnancy/miscarry), and later experience ectopic pregnancies (development of the baby in the tubes instead of the uterus). After realizing that the description of post abortion syndrome fit me to a tee, I went to a retreat for women like myself searching for forgiveness, healing and hope. I turned to God for help. My spiritual life began to grow and within a few years I coordinated the Life Issues Ministry at my parish and now facilitate for Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what a healthy relationship looked like; let alone how to fix another broken marriage. By summer 2003, I filed for divorce. We were all devastated. My children and husband begged me not to continue with the divorce and I committed to two more months. However, the abstinence rule remained in effect.

You see, several months prior to my filing, the therapist convinced my husband that abstinence in our marriage was crucial. I had learned from my early teen years, that sex was a tool used by both men and women. I used it to get I wanted: love, a relationship and security. Men used it for their own pleasure. I had also associated sex with the abortions. If I wouldn’t have had it, then I wouldn’t have become pregnant and had the abortions.

During this time of abstinence, I learned that only I was in control of my body. I began to respect my body and understood what a healthy love life was. Sex no longer was a tool of manipulation or immediate gratification. I discovered that it was to be a time for a husband and a wife to celebrate their love for each other by mutually agreeing (no strings attached) to express that love in the oneness only they can have. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit and prayer a miracle has occurred. I shredded the divorce papers, my husband is also seeing a therapist and we have recommitted to each other in a way I never knew was possible. I wish I knew what it would be like to end my wedding day by sharing myself in such a sacred way with only my husband for the first time. What a gift it would be.

Now guys, you must be thinking that is great and all, but I have no worries, none of this concerns me. You are wrong! Let me ask you, if you get a girl pregnant and she has the baby, who typically pays child support. You do. Why? Because you are the dad. When did you become a dad? The same time she became a mom, when she became pregnant. Both of you participated in the event that created this life. So now you are thinking well, I’m not the one having the abortion. No, not physically. But like the mother, you too will live with knowing you gave your baby up to abortion. Come to find out, my boyfriend, Mr. Macho baseball player, cried everyday that he passed by the clinic of the first abortion. The clinic was on the way to and from his work. He finally had to change the road he traveled. But that didn’t resolve the same regret, pain, shame and guilt that I feel.

Okay, but you are all teenagers and sex is the cool thing to do. Your hormones are off the charts and your boyfriend is trying to convince you to just do it. He loves you, everything will be just fine. Hey, you guys are no different. I know that girls are just as aggressive, if not more. How do you say no? You just do. Why? Because many teen pregnancies occur the first time, because birth control is not 100% effective, and because you deserve better…both of you. Respect yourself, your bodies and your future children.

Why should you listen to me? I was/am just like you. Worse, I was who many of you think you want to be or who you may envy at school. I know I am called to help young women and men; to bring light to the truth about abortion, its aftereffects, AND the positive side to abstinence.

Ronnajean Tarantino Murphy

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