If your conscience required it, could you turn your back on the job you’d dedicated your entire adult life to?
That’s what Abby Johnson did. After nine years as director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, Johnson left in October to join the Coalition for Life, a group that holds prayer rallies outside that same clinic—and a group of which she had once been a vocal critic.
Johnson cites two reasons for her decision to walk away from Planned Parenthood. First, she says, it bothered her that the organization was so focused on performing more and more abortions in order to bring in more and more money.
Johnson had believed that pregnancy prevention was Planned Parenthood’s main goal. But, she says, “It seemed like maybe that’s not what a lot of people were believing any more, because that’s not where the money was. The money wasn’t in family planning, the money wasn’t in prevention, the money was in abortion.” And Johnson reports she had “a problem with that.”
But as Johnson tells it, the moment that really changed her heart occurred when she was called in to help with an actual abortion procedure, which was not part of her regular duties.
This was her first time watching the procedure on an ultrasound. She says, “I could see the whole profile of the baby…I could see the whole side profile. I could see the probe. I could see the baby try to move away from the probe….I just thought, ‘What am I doing?’…And then I thought, ‘Never again.’”
Two weeks later, looking out the clinic window and seeing members of Coalition for Life outside praying, Johnson walked out of the clinic and joined them.
She has never looked back.
As you might expect, no one at Planned Parenthood knows quite what to make of Abby Johnson. The recriminations have been flying thick and fast. They’re accusing her of lying about why she left, of stealing files from the clinic where she used to work, of any number of other things.
Apparently, they don’t know how to handle the idea that her conscience might have convicted her.
But Johnson’s story should serve as a cautionary tale for pro-lifers. For all of us as a matter of fact. Especially when we’re dealing with polarizing issues like abortion, we Christians must remember that our fellow human beings are not the enemy. Here’s one where we thought the woman was. But she saw the truth.
Remember, Paul spells it out so clearly for us in Ephesians: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
So even as we fight to save lives (and we’re reminded this week of the importance of that with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) we must still keep our minds on our larger mission, which is to love the world. And it’s the only way we’re going to bring change.
Martin Luther King said it beautifully: He whom you would change, you must first love. This means every human being—pro-life and pro-choice—because everyone is made in God’s image. And we all, as the result of the Fall, stand in need of redemption.
So we need to do everything we can to reach out to the Abby Johnsons of the world, and pray that God will change their hearts—for their sake, and for His glory.
If it happened here with Abby Johnson; it can happen again.