On January 31, pro-life hero Cal Zastrow was standing vigil in the biting Michigan winter cold at the Women’s Center of Saginaw abortion clinic when an SUV bearing the insignia, “Holy Cross Children’s Services” pulled into the parking lot. According to Cal in an email update:

The passenger was clearly a minor, appearing perhaps 15-years-old. The driver was an African-American woman, about 5′ 2″, wearing pants, jacket, and a name badge. The woman scurried in while the girl walked slowly, looking very sad and frightened to go in. She stared at us while we offered help. Neither of them spoke.

Abortionist Roumell arrived after noon, hacked loudly, spat on the ground in our direction, and went in to commit multiple murders. There were a total of two moms that turned away without murdering, but five stayed in long enough to kill, including the woman and girl from this vehicle.


This was a heartrending tragedy, but what happened next was a noteworthy display of Christian leadership and humility on the part of Holy Cross, a large nonprofit Catholic network of children’s homes and services in Michigan.

Both the Diocese of Saginaw and Holy Cross Executive Director Br. Francis Boylan were chagrined when presented with Zastrow’s photos, and an investigation was immediately launched. Discovered, according to a February 19 follow-up letter from Br. Boylan to Most Reverend Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit-Metropolitan:

The person who transported our student to the clinic violated at least four established rules which would have brought the question of pregnancy termination to the attention of various supervisors. While it cannot be proven that the co-worker involved did so intentionally, all indications are that her actions were purposeful. Upon learning of her activity, she was immediately suspended without pay and has since been fired….

[W]e determined that not only had she acted contrary to the clear directives contained within our procedures, but that her values, as a person, were in serious conflict with our Mission, which is completely consistent with the Church. In addition, the investigation confirmed that this co-worker acted unilaterally without any corroboration with any other HCCS co-worker.

I received more of the backstory from Dr. Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, who was involved in the discussions.

The girl was apparently already a mother of a young child, and both were residents at a Holy Cross facility for parenting teen moms who come from troubled or abusive homes.

At a court date with her mother, the girl acknowledged she was pregnant again. The judge asked if she wanted an abortion, she said yes, and her mother agreed. The Holy Cross employee drove the girl directly from court to the abortion clinic. More on that from a February 7 follow-up letter from the Saginaw Diocese, quoting another Holy Cross statement:

[A]s a citizen of the State of Michigan a Holy Cross coworker felt obligated to follow a court order and be incompliance [sic] with Federal laws regarding the care of minors therefore she felt she did not have to consult with leadership at Holy Cross to implement this court order.

Back to the Holy Cross letter:

In the future, if we are ordered by the Department of Human Services to deliver a student for abortion consultation outside of the Agency, we will only deliver our student to an Agency approved by the Church to give such counseling.

In addition, we will refuse to participate in anyway directly or indirectly with any direction by the Department of Human Services, or a Court for that matter, in the delivery of a student to a hospital, medical facility or clinic for pregnancy termination.  We will demand that the student be reassigned to another Agency.

It should be noted that, particularly in our women and baby programs, we deal with this issue on a regular basis. To our knowledge, in our entire history, there has been no instance where we have participated directly in the procurement of a pregnancy termination.

On the other hand, we have literally counseled hundreds of young women to keep their babies.  Our programs supply real time support and refuge to young women who finds themselves to be or soon to be young mothers. We provide a facility where they can live and nurture their child through and after their pregnancy.

We believe that our record of success in this area is unparalleled. Literally, because of our program and the continuing care we offer, hundreds of young women have found a refuge and learning center for the raising of their children and a place for continuing counseling after they leave our residential programs….

We now know a child’s life was taken.  While the individual responsible may have been acting within the law, it is apparent that she acted on her own, fully knowing that HCCS believes that taking someone’s life, under any circumstance, is an immoral and appalling act that cannot be tolerated in a Catholic Agency, regardless of civil law.  If anything good can come out of this terrible tragedy, what is clear is that everyone at HCCS is devastated that it happened to one of our own, and we are better prepared that it will not happen again.

It is because we recognize that, in spite of our long history when no such event has ever occurred before, a child has had its life terminated while in our care that we immediately developed the most stringent protocols we could to assure that this will not happen to any of our children again.

2014-03-06_1231Closing thoughts from Zastrow (pictured right):

The Diocese conducted an investigation, had the responsible person fired, admitted wrong, took steps to fix it, and has a more stringent policy they require all of the employees of HCCS to support.

All big organizations/churches are going to have people that err from time to time. Good leadership doesn’t go nutso, throw the baby out with the bathwater, cover up internal hypocrisy, pretend that all of the good that they do neutralizes some bad, or is apathetic.

Also, cameras are so important to have while doing street-ministry.

Indeed, had Zastrow not been at the mill that day, and had he not had a camera, no one would have ever known about this tragedy.

Now, HCCS has gotten rid of a bad apple and is able to offer this young mother post-abortion counseling.

Nevertheless, the evil that is abortion has claimed the life of another innocent victim.

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