November 2013 – Standing outside an abortion clinic, it may be difficult to view compassionately the people who work inside, knowing their role. Abby Johnson, however, knows that they are also victims of the abortion industry and desperately in need of ministry. She knows because, once, she too was inside.
Truth takes over
Five years ago, Johnson was a model employee of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion services provider in the world. She even earned 2008 Employee of the Year. A clinic director in Bryan/College Station, Texas, with eight years of employment with Planned Parenthood, Johnson was confident in her career.
“I started working at Planned Parenthood because I believed I was genuinely helping women make the best choices for their lives,” Johnson writes on her website abbyjohnson.org. “I thought Planned Parenthood really believed in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, and, therefore, reducing the number of abortions.”
But that changed when Johnson stepped in to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion and got a closer look at the brutal reality of abortion. Horrified by what she witnessed, Johnson realized the ocean of difference between Planned Parenthood’s carefully framed public image and what went on behind its closed doors.
“In the last year of my employment, many things began to disturb me,” Johnson recalled, “the increase in our abortion quota, our new desire to expand late term abortion services and, in the end, watching a 13-week-old child in the womb struggle for his life and die during an abortion procedure.”
When Johnson made the decision to leave Planned Parenthood, she discovered another level to the deception. The one-time employee of the year found herself in court under a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood to have her silenced with a gag order.
The court dismissed the suit, and Johnson verified Planned Parenthood’s paranoia when she began to speak out about the truth of the abortion industry. Above all, she felt an urgency to correct the misconception she had herself fallen into by believing that the abortion industry is there to help women when, in fact, it hurts them.
“The thing most hidden by the abortion industry is that women regret their abortions,” Johnson told AFA Journal. “It’s something they live with for the rest of their lives. At some point in time, these women are going to grieve a lot for the child they aborted. And that’s something that the abortion industry desperately tries to keep quiet.”
Rescue requires healing
However, abortion workers are also injured by abortion, and they have become the focus for Johnson’s ministry. Soon after she had quit Planned Parenthood, workers began coming to Johnson’s door, asking for help and guidance.
“Seventeen workers came to me before I had even started a ministry, and my husband and I did what we could to help them financially so they could leave their jobs,” she said. “But when we had 17, I thought, ‘Okay, it’s time to start an official ministry reaching out to these workers and letting them know there is a way out.’ So that’s what we did; the ministry was started in June 2012, and since then we’ve had 80 more workers come to us.”
Suggesting that all workers in the abortion industry can be rescued and freed from their jobs – which would effectively shut down the abortion industry – Johnson has named her ministry And Then There Were None (attwn.org). The ministry helps workers in every way possible so that they can leave their jobs in the abortion industry.
“We provide emotional support through one-on-one relationships, and we also hold a healing retreat for former workers,” Johnson explained. “We provide legal support; Alliance Defending Freedom has partnered with us to support workers who are dealing with legal issues from their former employers.
“We support them spiritually. All who come to us are on a spiritual journey, so we want to connect them with a clergy member in their area who will support them and pray with them and also help them deal with the spiritual warfare – because the spiritual warfare after leaving the abortion industry is very great.
“We also provide financial help for them if they are in need during their transition out of abortion clinics. We don’t want them to feel like they have to stay in a clinic just because they need a paycheck.”
Often, when workers have found their way out of the industry, they are eager to speak out, as Johnson was, about the truth of the abortion industry. Johnson said ATTWN is willing to help in this area too, although it is not the main focus of the ministry.
“With a lot of workers who leave the industry, they know what’s going on, they’ve seen what’s happening to these women, and they want to speak out,” she said. “They want to shut down these clinics. That’s their heart’s desire.
“We can connect them with attorneys who can help them bring charges or expose information about things taking place in the clinics, and we’re always happy for them to do that, of course. But our main goal in ministry is to help them find healing. We do everything we can to help men and women feel a peace and joy they never felt inside the industry.”
Workers are reachable
And that is a mission that every prolife activist can easily take part in, simply by continuing to reach out with compassion and love to those inside as well as outside clinic walls.
“You just have to be there,” Johnson urged. “Show up where they work, outside their facility, and lovingly reach out to them. A lot of the time it seems like sidewalk counselors are hesitant to reach out to abortion clinic workers. But they are in a wonderful position for ministering to abortion clinic workers because they have the ability to develop a relationship with them. Unlike the woman walking in for one day to have an abortion, abortion clinic workers are there every day.”
Johnson encourages prolife activists and counselors to make an effort to reach clinic workers by trying to understand what may have led them into the job. In her experience, Johnson has found that many abortion workers have suffered emotional damage from their own personal abortions. Above all, it is important to remember that an abortion clinic worker is just like every other person – in need of spiritual rescue and restoration through Jesus Christ.
“They are sinners, like all of us,” Johnson said. “They’re all in need of God’s love and mercy. In that respect, they’re not any different than anyone else. They are misguided people, but they are reachable. No one is outside God’s reach. If we just show up and do His work, then we can leave the rest to Him, and He will reach the hearts of these workers.”
Join the rescue squad
Learn more at attwn.org or call toll-free 888-570-5501. Website resources include:
▶ Downloadable flier for sidewalk counselors
▶ Johnson’s letter to abortion workers
▶ Form for reporting an incident at a clinic
▶ Testimonials from former workers
▶ Online donation form
Other recommended prolife sites: