Fans know her for her role in the 2007 film “Freedom Writers” and TV shows “Dexter” and “Law & Order.” But when the 39-year-old actress introduced herself to the crowd of hundreds of Christians at the Q conference, she only said, “My name is April Hernandez-Castillo and I had an abortion.”
The actress then shared how she, as a 19-year-old, became pregnant with the child of a man who had just left her--a man who had nearly killed her in a very abusive relationship.
“I understand that the topic of abortion is touchy. I understand that I am in a room full of believers, faith movers and shakers and yes we absolutely must fight for the life of the unborn child,” Hernandez-Castillo said last week in Nashville. “But I wonder, have we missed and failed the woman who’s terrified.”
“My friend, she asked me the $1 million question: ‘Are you going to keep it?’ It. Keep. It. As if I had an alien growing in my body,” Hernandez-Castillo recalled. “I cried because I knew I could not bring a child into this world from a man who almost took my life. I cried because I knew I couldn’t keep it.”
Hernandez-Castillo shared how cold the abortion process was: “How do you plan to pay? Cash or credit? And it’s 400," the receptionist told her in an unfeeling voice.
“No one really spoke,” she recalled of the other women and girls (one who looked to be 14) in the waiting room, as she sat with tears silently rolling down her cheeks. Once inside the office, she saw a sonogram of her baby: “It was no longer an it but it was a human being,” she described. “But I still had to do it because sometimes when we find ourselves in desperate situations, we make desperate choices.”
She was told by the doctor it would only take five minutes, and that “you won’t feel a thing.” She thought, “Five minutes to remove a human."
When she woke up from the procedure, the first thought in her mind was, “I’m a murderer.” She shared, “My womb was empty, my soul was empty, my spirit was empty.”
After leaving the clinic, a protester tried giving her a pamphlet. "When I refused, she looked at me. She said, ‘Oh, you did one of those. You’re going to go to Hell.’”
From those words, Hernandez-Castillo felt condemned and vowed never to have children. “I could never forgive me. I accepted that,” she said.
But years later, Hernandez-Castillo started dating a man who brought her to church. Feeling like she could never be accepted by God, she sat in the back, wearing dark sunglasses. But God got through to her.
“I remember reaching my hand up into the sky as if to rip Heaven apart and just pull it open and bring God down because I was desperate to be forgiven,” she described. “All of a sudden, I felt the power come down in my body and I fell to the ground in fetal position. I wasn’t crying. My soul was sobbing. It was as if my womb, my uterus was sobbing.”
Then she heard God speak to her. “He said, ‘My daughter, I forgive you. I love you. But I need you to forgive yourself.’”
Later that day as she was processing the church service, she saw what seemed like a vision. A little girl with long brown hair and a white dress appeared amongst green grass and daisies.
“She looked to me and she said, ‘Mommy, I forgive you. I love you,’” Hernandez-Castillo emotionally remembered seeing. “God was so good. He revealed her to me. And her name was Daisy.”
“I often think about the woman with the pamphlet and in that moment, how she chose to make it about herself, how she chose to condemn me. And it became more about her and less about what I needed, which was a hug, love and empathy,” the actress shared. “Jesus said those without sin cast the first stone.”
“Abortion is not about you," Hernandez-Castillo told the crowd of Christians. "Abortion is not a black or white issue. It is a gray issue. My question to you all: Will you be willing to stand in the gray and meet the woman who’s had one, two, three, four more abortions and still serve her?Jesus was willing to stand in the gray and He would ask one question: How can I help you?”
“If we want to be impactful, if we want to see change, we must be slow to speak, quick to listen and love unconditionally,” she pleaded.
Hernandez-Castillo has since had another daughter with her husband, a girl she feels is a redemptive reminder of Daisy. What do you think of Hernandez-Castillo's touching story and moving words to the crowd of Christians about abortion and the women it impacts? Share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!