Healing in Public

My healing story is not an ideal one. There was no time to grieve, to reflect or to even be alone really. Less than a month after I left the abortion industry, my face was on national news. It was like being shot out of a cannon.

The one break I had was the amazing media training from Planned Parenthood. At the very least, when I was on TV I didn’t look like a bumbling idiot.

My first moment of healing came on October 23, 2009, at 10pm, when I went back to my old clinic. I stood out there and faced my egregious sins for the first time. It was then, on that dark sidewalk, I realized how broken and wretched I was. However, even as I dropped to my knees sobbing over this realization, I wasn’t alone.

There alongside me were two pro-lifers, praying. After they learned who I was and why I was there, they were ecstatic, to say the least. And, while they were literally dancing over their thanksgiving, I was face down on the ground with my fingers gripping the freshly cut grass, and tears streaming down like rain.

Two weeks later, I was in court against Planned Parenthood. I witnessed my best friends take the stand and lie about me. I watched them cry as they were caught in their lies, over and over again, by my attorney. I saw the hurt on their faces. I knew they felt forced. And, in that moment of betrayal I chose to forgive them, but I haven’t spoken to them since then.

One week after the court case brought against me by Planned Parenthood was dismissed, I was invited to speak on dozens of national news shows. I told my story, I answered their questions, and I tried to be as raw and honest as possible. The media continued for several months. The result of all of the media led to requests from pro-life groups across the country for my testimony.

At my first event I gave a speech, a month after the media explosion, and I spoke for two hours. I had so much to say, so much to get off my heart, so much to expose. Everyone had questions. And, down in the warm basement of a church in New York, in front of over 100 people, I received a little more healing.

I continued to speak and each time I experienced a lot more healing. Sometimes, I would speak and memories would pop into my mind when I was on stage. At times, those memories were so powerful it made it hard to finish my talk.

I had prayed that there would be someone out there like me, a former clinic worker who would be interested in mentoring me and in sharing their wisdom. There was one woman who was actually here in Texas and I wanted so badly for her to help me on my journey, but instead of embracing me, she only recognized me as competition and rejected me.

I found myself lost and overwhelmed by the media storm. To be honest, even though the people around me were supportive and wanted to help how they could, it seemed like they had no idea what it was like to experience what I had experienced.

Fifteen months after I left Planned Parenthood, my book was published. Writing proved to be incredibly healing. Publicly sharing those intimate memories and moments in my book was more healing than I ever could have imagined.

I realized that I still needed to heal from my past abortions, so I went through just about every post abortion bible study known to man, and I healed a little bit more. I was at peace about my own abortions. I knew they were wrong. I regretted both of those decisions, but I knew I could move on from those memories, those two grievous mistakes.

About two and a half years after I had left the industry I started an organization for people like me, workers who wanted to leave the abortion industry, but thought they had nowhere to go. I didn’t know if it would be successful, but God continues to amaze me.

Ever since And Then There Were None was established in June 2012, to this day, we have helped 139 abortion clinic workers through our ministry looking for support, healing, and compassion. They were able to find a safe place in us and, hopefully, we have helped them find forgiveness in Christ.

Every time we hold a healing retreat for the workers in our ministry I also heal just a little bit more. These men and women, these beautiful and courageous people, have brought more healing and comfort into my life than they will ever know.

Now, it’s been over five years since I walked out of Planned Parenthood’s doors, and I can honestly say that I have never looked back. I have never wondered if I made the right decision. I have never questioned my decision to leave. I know it was the right decision.

Many of you, in these past five years, have walked through this journey with me. You have seen me heal. Many of you have seen me stand up on a stage and cry when I shared my story. And yes, you have seen me screw up, lots of times. Some people had mercy on me when I messed up. Other people, not so much. You know what they say, right? Christians are often the worst at wounding our wounded.

In August 2013, my former Planned Parenthood clinic closed its doors. No more women would be hurt inside those clinic walls. No more babies would be killed on their tables. In September 2013, we even held a “celebration” outside the clinic. That was a heavy day for me. Yes, there was some happiness, but I mostly felt sorrow.

The struggle over that facility had finally come to an end. I’ll never know how many babies lost their lives inside that clinic, but I know one of them was my own child. I aborted one of my own babies in that facility.

I could only see one more piece to close that chapter of my life, I wanted to walk through that empty building one last time. I wanted to hold my husband’s hand and relive those memories, only so I could finally put them to rest. I wanted to walk in each room and pray. I just wanted that closure.

I was so overcome with emotion when the local pregnancy center and another national pro-life group, who bought the building, told me I would be able to have that time to heal. I had been preparing my heart for that walk-through. I knew that it would be emotional. I was nervous because I honestly didn’t know what to expect.

You might be able to imagine my devastation when my husband received a text message telling us we were no longer allowed to go and walk through the building. This was their media moment and as it turned out they didn’t want me to take away any of their spotlight. I was crushed. These people who had stood beside me and pushed out my story when I left were now ripping this opportunity of healing from me.

My family now lives in Austin, but I had an appointment this past week in College Station. After my appointment finished, I thought to drive past my former clinic just to see if there had been any changes made to the building. I noticed immediately the big heavy fencing had been removed, along with the bars on the windows.

You would drive by and just see a building. It’s possible that you would even look at that building and see a victory, but I look at that building and see so much sin, my sins, too. When I look at it, I see eight years of time spent without God. I see so many years of loss. However, there is a small part of me that sees triumph.

I wanted to pull into that parking lot, but I couldn’t make myself do it at first. I drove by at least three times before I finally turned my wheel and pulled in. I instinctively pulled into the second to last parking spot, the same spot I had parked in for eight years. I decided to move my car closer to the building.

I thought I might be able to see through the windows. It felt strangely familiar to be in that parking lot, which I didn’t like, but I worked there longer than I have been out of there, so I figured that made sense.

There was some light shining through one of the windows on the building. The window was very familiar, it was my old office window. I also knew that light. It was a light right outside one of our education offices that never turned off. I felt drawn to go look inside, from the outside.

I got out of my car and walked up to the building. I went to my office window and looked inside. It took my breath away to see my old desk still sitting there. There was a note on the desk, apparently, left behind from Planned Parenthood. The note had a woman’s name and phone number written on it. In the memo it said that she was “calling about AB information.” We always abbreviated abortion with “AB.”

If you were to look through that same window, you would only see a basic office. However, as I stood there I could see myself sitting at that desk, auditing charts, checking to make sure the ultrasound pictures of the babies we killed were in every chart.

Thousands of those ultrasound pictures flashed through my brain, the pictures of the perfectly round heads of these innocent babies. We would measure them to find out how far along the women were in their pregnancy. I look at those shelves in my office and I see the folders that used to hold all of the lab records for each woman who had an abortion. I see the folders of the “POC Examination” sheets, the papers that we signed when we had found all of the body parts after each abortion.

I see the bowl of miraculous medals that sat on my shelf, all of those medals that were left behind by the pro-lifer advocates in our flowerbeds. I had picked them all up and kept them in that bowl for eight years.

You would look in and see a large empty space next to my desk. I see a small conference table that sat there. That was where I interviewed applicants, where we sat as I would lie to them about our “mission” at Planned Parenthood.

“We want to reduce the number of abortions,” I would tell them. That was just a lie. We didn’t care about those women who came to us. We just wanted their money. The time spent at that small table was my first opportunity to brainwash these potential employees about all of the “good” we were doing at Planned Parenthood.

I slowly walked to the window to the right of me and looked in. You would see a small room with a kitchenette. You would realize this room must have been a staff break room, but I look in and see all of us standing around a table, grabbing a bite to eat in between abortion procedures. I see us all laughing as the abortionist would tell us his greatest “abortion stories.” I remember us looking out that window and mocking the pro-lifers outside who were praying for all of us.

I continued walking down that sidewalk and looked into each window. I had been in every one of those rooms. I could see myself there, convincing women to have abortions, reassuring them that they wouldn’t feel regret after their procedure. I was only able to see the opening to our recovery room. I could see women sitting in large, leather recliners, each one of them crying as they realized what they had done.

I could see myself cleaning the blood off of the floor in one of the exam rooms where one of my friends began hemorrhaging after the abortionist perforated her uterus. All of that blood. My friend laid on that exam table white as a ghost. I was begging to call an ambulance. “No ambulance,” our doctor replied.

I could see all of it. I could see all of those memories so clearly, things I hadn’t thought about in over five years. They were all rushing in and I couldn’t control them. I was already sobbing and clinging to the stone wall when I reached one of the last windows and looked inside.

From where I was standing I could see across the hall, I could see the POC lab. So many babies. So many tiny faces. So much horror. It felt like my legs couldn't support my weight anymore, so I just sat on the ground and wept. I was aware the people driving by could see me, but I just couldn’t move. It felt like my heart was literally breaking inside of my chest. It was physically painful.

I have no idea how long I had been sitting there with my face in my hands, but I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up, feeling startled, to find a stranger standing there. It was an older man. I figured I needed to give some sort of explanation as to why I was sitting there sobbing like a crazy person, but the only thing I could get out was, “I used to work here.”

He looked at me with such compassion and in a gentle voice said, “I know. I know who you are. Can I help you?” I was trying to stand up, but felt a bit wobbly. He grabbed my arm and walked with me as I made my way to my car. He asked me if I wanted him to call someone for me, but I didn’t. I couldn’t think of anyone who would understand what was happening inside of me at that moment. I thanked this kind gentleman and assured him that I would be fine.

As I watched him walk off, I went back to the window of my old office one last time. There was a Bible verse written on the wall. It said something about evil. That was not the Bible verse I envisioned writing on that wall one day. I always wanted to write 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

I walked back to my car and pulled out of the parking lot. I felt numb, but I knew that would eventually go away. I turned on my iPod and hit shuffle. I don’t think it was a coincidence the song that started playing was Matt Maher’s, “Alive Again.”

The chorus says, “You called and You shouted Broke through my deafness Now I'm breathing in and breathing out I'm alive again

You shattered my darkness Washed away my blindness Now I'm breathing in and breathing out I'm alive again”

I drove home thanking God to be alive again, that I am alive in Him. I don’t know why things happen the way that they do, but I know I just have to keep moving forward in forgiveness, in truth, and with God.

My past will always be there. Those memories will always be a part of my mind. I don’t even mind that they are there, those memories keep me motivated in this battle. I know I am forgiven. I know that God has cast my sin as far as the east is from the west. I feel His redemption. I feel His mercy. I feel it every day of my life.

I share this part of my journey with all of you because many of you have been here since the very beginning. You heard there was an unnamed abortion clinic director who had resigned from Planned Parenthood and was now pro-life. You have shared your lives and your struggles with me, so I will continue to share mine with you. I reveal my vulnerability and my weakness because I don’t know how to be something I’m not.

Hopefully over the past five years you have seen changes in me that made you smile. I pray that I have saved more than I helped to kill. I pray that God continues to open doors as long as He wants me doing this work.

Healing in public has not been easy or ideal, but, in the end it has been worth it. Thank you for being on this journey with me, even when it has been messy. It’s important to express how thankful I am to you for loving me in spite of my past sins.

Thank you for embracing my ministry, which reaches out to others who need healing. Thank you for looking past the victory of an abortion clinic worker who switched sides and just seeing ME, a broken sinner in need of grace, mercy, and compassion.

I’m not sure that I could ever express how much your prayers, your kind words, and your hugs have healed my heart.

As I reflect on our last retreat for clinic workers, something really stands out to me. Yes, God heals us, but so does your faith in us. Your kindness heals us. You play a part in putting our hearts back together. Thank you for loving us.