We recently finished airing a compelling, two-day Focus on the Family broadcast with Abby Johnson, the former director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic. While I first blogged about Abby back in November, this is one of those life-changing conversations you won’t want to miss. (Click here for PART 1 and PART 2).
In 2008, Abby was given the dubious honor of “Employee of the Year” for the Southeast Texas region having counseled thousands of women to have an abortion. Only after working at Planned Parenthood for the better part of a decade, did Abby come face-to-face with the stark reality of what her business was actually doing. How?
Abby witnessed an abortion via ultrasound.
Evidently, a visiting physician came to work at her clinic one Saturday—a practitioner who only conducted ultrasound-guided abortions in his private practice. The patient was a mother 13 weeks into her pregnancy—at which point, as Abby explained, the baby’s organs and body (down to the toes and fingers) are fully formed and functional. She explain that her job was to hold the ultrasound wand on the patient’s abdomen during the entire procedure.
When Abby was first informed that she was needed to assist that Saturday afternoon, she was initially excited; she thought it might be valuable learning experience, especially since it involved a new technique. She got more than she bargained for.
After putting the ultrasound wand in place, Abby could see a perfectly formed side profile of the baby. You could almost hear the sense of awe Abby felt upon seeing the image of the baby.
I won’t go into the details here, but Abby went on to describe what she saw the moment the abortion process was started—in particular how the baby fought to move away from the impending danger. That’s when the scales fell from Abby’s eyes and heart. Watching the drama, an overwhelming sense of guilt took her breath away.
You see, one of the most common questions most women asked Abby over the years was whether or not their baby would feel anything during the procedure. Abby’s response? “I always said, ‘No’ because Planned Parenthood had told me ‘No. Absolutely not’—so that was my response.”
But after witnessing a baby struggling to stay alive in this mothers’ womb, Abby immediately thought about “all of the women that I had lied to.” She wondered whether they would have changed their minds had they known the truth. And, more than that, Abby wondered whether she would have worked so long in the clinic if she had known what she now knew to be true—the baby feels pain.
With one hand still resting on the woman’s belly, Abby said she was grieved. “[I was] just feeling that there was once life there and now there wasn’t, and knowing that my hand had been a part of that and just feeling this grief for this woman because I had taken part in her lost motherhood.”
Abby says the last straw came in the form of a directive from the home office of Planned Parenthood. Due to the downward economy, revenues had dropped significantly. According to Abby, the memo called on all clinics such as Abby’s to step up their number of abortions in order to bolster the budget. Abby found herself asking, “What am I doing? How have I done this for so long? How have I not seen the reality of this?”
As you can imagine, these two broadcasts generated a lot of listener response. My heart goes out to the women who, for years, have carried with them a deep guilt and shame over an abortion. If that’s you, allow me to encourage you with something Abby said:
“God is big enough to handle your burden. You cannot cope with the guilt of an abortion on your own. When I left Planned Parenthood, there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t pray without crying. I was happy to be gone but I was so burdened by guilt—by what I had participated in for so long . . . and yet [I found] redemption is possible.”
Abby is living proof that healing is possible and that God still forgives. If you’re wrestling with the decision whether to carry your baby to term, or if you desire to be free from the guilt of a previous abortion, we have trained counselors on staff who offer a listening ear, a safe place to talk, and a desire to pray for you. Call 1-800-AFAMILY.
And why not pray for Abby as she now works to preserve and celebrate life!