Healing

I helped so many women abort their babies. How do I live with that?

I spent eight years of my life with Planned Parenthood, so as you could imagine I have many memories of my time there. Some of those memories are good, some are not. Nonetheless, those memories are there packed away in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years.

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy, hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I reflected on the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my filing cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts.

Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, along with my new and amazing salary. A few days later, my new business cards arrived. I remember placing them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

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I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificing so much of my time with my family. But, I knew it would all be worth it, especially now that I had my new job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice wasn’t only a movement to me, it was a lifestyle. I fully embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it.

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage.

I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and ruminate on the night I received it. I ended up deciding to place that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories.

One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic, something I find deplorable now. I was taken aback because of all of the things I engaged in while I had that big title.

I remember handing women small monetary checks to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sins. The woman that came to your clinic for an abortion could also be the familiar face that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your thoughts, words, and actions caused so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility.

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it’s a true story. It’s my story.

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway.  He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. There is very little we can do to control our future, or if there is a tomorrow for us in this life. All there is for us is the present. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW.

I don’t know what your past sins are. I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. However, as someone who has to face their past sins on a frequent basis, almost daily, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Past sins do not have to be a source of constant grief.

You have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive. Maybe you could help others make different choices than you did. Maybe you could help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.”

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Sometimes you may remember the person that you were and the decisions that you made, but you can thank God for pulling you out of it each time it comes to mind. Count your blessings daily.

Just know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

**The original article was published by LifeSiteNews.com. Any reproduction or quotation from this article must give appropriate credit and sourcing to their website. 

I talked her into getting an abortion, then I ran into her at the store.

I used to have a standard line that I would ask people if I thought I recognized them, “Do I look familiar to you?”. I asked that question once a week, at least. It’s been four years since I have asked that question to anyone.

Four years ago, there was a woman in a store who I recognized. I could tell that she recognized me as well, because every time we would pass each other she would give me a little smile.

Finally, I just asked, “Do I look familiar to you?”

She started laughing and said that I did look familiar, but she could not figure out where she had seen me before.  As soon as she started talking, it hit me. She sat across from me at my desk at Planned Parenthood. I convinced her to get an abortion. I remembered her story vividly. She was crying. I was reassuring her by saying things like, “Just because a decision makes us cry, doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision.”

I remember that I was trying to get her out of my office. We had been talking for at least 45 minutes and that was way over my 15 minute maximum for “counseling.” I knew I must have a stack of charts waiting in my box outside. Finally, I pulled out the last card to hurry this thing along. I told her, “If you don’t have the abortion today, you won’t be able to come back to us for at least a week and it will be more expensive. You don’t want that, do you?”

Reluctantly, she said that she was ready to go back for the abortion. Good. My job was done. Every line was signed and every box was checked.

I was now, once again, staring this young woman in the face. I had left Planned Parenthood. I was pro-life. I was sorry for what I had done to her, but what do I say now? I panicked and said, “Well, who knows? Maybe I will see you around again.” Then, I rushed off, feeling ashamed.

I really hoped that would never happen again. However, it did. It happened several times. Each time, I would look into the woman’s eyes and walk the other way. How could I face these women? My sins were staring back at me when I looked at them. I didn’t want to see it. It was too real.

As time progressed, these encounters occurred less often. We moved to a different town for my work and I rarely ran into anyone that I recognized from the clinic. Even if I did, I had more confidence to deal with it as it arose. I was more comfortable than before to tell them who I was and how I knew them. I was now quick to apologize for my part in their abortion. The more healing I experienced, the easier it became.

About six months ago, I received an email that I wasn’t expecting. In those few seconds my confidence was shaken. A young woman had come to my clinic when she was just 16 years old. Admittedly, I did not remember her. She told me her story through a message and I was heartbroken for her. She had gotten hooked on drugs, dealt with very serious depression, and even attempted suicide after her abortion.

She blamed me. “You told me I would feel fine after my abortion,” she said. I told her she wouldn’t have any regrets, but she did. She told me that I caused her pain. While I read her email, I felt that pain. I also felt that shame that I hadn’t experienced in several years.

I think I read her email at least 50 times. Honestly, I thought about just deleting it, pretending I had never received it, but I knew I couldn’t do that. I had to respond. I had to apologize. After two days of discerning my response, I finally sat down to write.

I accepted the blame. I apologized at least 10 times in my first response. I didn’t try to make any excuses. I didn’t try to justify my words or actions. I just apologized, over and over again. After that, I offered help. This young woman, now in her early 20's, needed healing. We have now exchanged several conversations through email and phone. I was able to get her connected to a post-abortive healing ministry in her area. She is a different person. Due to her honesty, I am a different person.

Recently, I asked a few former abortion clinic workers a question, “If you could go back and say something to a woman who had an abortion in your clinic, what would you say?” The responses were somewhat varied, but all had the same theme. They would tell these women that they were sorry. They would apologize for lying, for misleading them.

So, here is that apology to any post-abortive woman reading this right now. I am sorry. I am sorry that we did not tell you the truth about abortion. I am sorry that you were deceived by people who you thought you could trust. I am sorry that we didn’t listen to you when you cried in our offices. I’m sorry that you were treated like a number and not the beautiful person that you are. I’m sorry for the pain you felt. I’m sorry for any regret that you felt or continue to feel because of our dishonesty.

As much as I wish I could change the past, I’m not able to. I can’t change the poor decisions that we have all made, but I can tell you that there are many of us who care about your healing. You don’t have to live with regret, pain, and shame.

If you haven’t yet, please take that first step and find help. Call your local pro-life group and ask about resources in your area.  The Catholic Church offers resources as well. Receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is a physical and spiritual healing that comes directly from Jesus. I have found freedom and healing from my past. You can find that freedom, too.

**The original article was published by LifeSiteNews.com. Any reproduction or quotation from this article must give appropriate credit and sourcing to their website.

Bribery

There have been different ideas about how to handle abortion clinic workers. Attempts to bribe abortion clinic workers out of the abortion industry with promises of thousands of dollars in reward money generally sends one message to clinic workers, we want to use you for what you know, and we really don’t care about your well-being, your healing process, your relationship with Christ or your family.

This is not what the pro-life movement should be about.  This is certainly not what And Then There Were None (ATTWN) is about. I started this ministry not to "get stories," but to help people find healing and renew and or begin their relationship with Christ.

ATTWN has had 80 abortion clinic workers leave the industry and come through our ministry since last June. We didn’t accomplish this with bribery, intimidation or with the intention to use those who come to us. We help them pay their bills while they job hunt, get them into healing retreats, and provide them with legal aid, but only if they want it.  ATTWN offers a safe and confidential option for abortion clinic workers when they’re ready to leave. This is the reason we are successful.

I founded the ministry specifically to change minds and convert hearts.  You cannot bribe an abortion clinic worker or pay them off to what is right, that only comes from a true conversion. Former clinic workers with converted hearts can be a huge asset to the pro-life movement, but that doesn’t mean we coerce or push them to share their stories or air all the dirty little secrets of their former clinic. 

If a former abortion clinic worker wants to go public, it needs to be on their own time, on their own healing journey, if, and only if, they truly desire to speak out, not because big chunks of money are dangled in front of them. We will continue to be here for abortion clinic workers as long as they need healing. Our only goal is conversion.