“Anybody… ANYBODY… could have ended up inside an abortion clinic, because we all have a propensity to sin and it’s not like people wake up and say, ‘I want to work in the abortion industry.’ That could have been any of us.” These words, spoken by former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, help explain her subsequent pro-life outreach to clinic workers.
We pro-life people are familiar with the damage abortion does to babies and families. The recent spate of undercover videos has outraged us by bringing to light not just Planned Parenthood’s sale and disposal of bodies of dead babies, infection risks to mothers, and the companies poised to claim remains for experimentation. They’ve also shocked us with the reactions and sentiments of Planned Parenthood workers and connected researchers. The truth is that abortion hurts these people, too, even if they don’t realize it. And there’s help for them.
Without workers willing to perform abortions, the industry would grind to a halt. We’re fighting legal battles to end abortion. We’re urging mothers to choose life. We’re contacting our elected officials to let them know we disapprove of legalized murder. But are we reaching out to Planned Parenthood workers and letting them know that there’s hope and forgiveness?
If you’re not familiar with Johnson’s story, you should be. She worked for eight years at Planned Parenthood, culminating in directing a Texas clinic. Then she left the industry and changed from being part of the abortion process to helping other workers who want to leave. You can read more details about her story here. Financial, legal, and emotional support for clinic workers looking to leave the abortion industry can be found at And Then There Were None. Johnson talked with me about the realities of life as a clinic worker and how we can help people like her.
‘Many Times, These Workers Want to Leave’
Johnson said most people don’t know something very important about clinic workers: “We don’t need rage, we don’t need anger. There’s enough in those clinic walls. We only need to bring grace and kindness to the people in the clinics. To the people who have the procedures, and the workers. We need to have the same level of compassion for post-abortive workers and clinic workers.”
At least 70 percent of people who work in the abortion industry have themselves undergone abortions, Johnson notes.
“So these are hurting people that got into this industry because they were trying to justify a past of sin in their lives,” she says. “So we need to be compassionate, kind, and always pointing them to hope. Many times these workers want to leave.”
A Frightening Career
Johnson and her organization stress a relationship and love for clinic workers as the way to win their hearts and help them leave.
Something else Johnson says about these workers may surprise you: “Pro-lifers make the incorrect assumption that people who work in the abortion industry hate children, but most of them are parents. They’re moms. They’re dads. They love kids—they love their kids. It’s not about not liking kids, it’s about they have a belief that if a child is unwanted it’s wrong to bring that child into the world.”
Legalized abortion has created a whole category of people hurt by their careers. When your livelihood and family support is tied into any industry, it can be frightening to imagine a career change. The possible legal ramifications of breaking the silence around what has been happening behind Planned Parenthood’s closed doors adds a whole new layer of fear to the equation.
How Others Can Help
So how do we help? How do we reach out to those who see in one day things the rest of us can barely stand to watch?
First, we don’t need to accept what is happening as morally licit. Pretending that abortion is okay doesn’t help anyone, including the employee in question. Masking the reality of the practice allows us to excuse and rationalize it. Abortion results in death.
Pray for these people. Actions have consequences, in this life as well the next. Pray for these people and their families. Pray for our society that allows this, and for the women and children abortion hurts daily. Visit an abortion clinic to pray for the women and babies—and for the workers. Let them know that there are options, hope, and forgiveness.
Volunteer at a pregnancy center. Offer to help in whatever ways they need, from donating time to fix leaky faucets to baby clothes to money.
Get involved. How can you help? Can you write letters to abortion workers? Can you donate money to people as they look for new jobs? Does your church body include any sort of ministry to abortion clinicians as part of their human care? If you own a business, would you hire someone looking to leave the field?
Speak out. Being silent about the abortion industry allows people you know to start a job and not be blindsided at what is expected of them. If you know people entering the medical profession, talk to them about life, options, and the value of all humans. Let them know you’ll help them look for a job that won’t compromise their morality.
There is hope and help for people, even those caught working in the abortion industry. Part of saving lives is saving the lives of all, and that doesn’t stop at the preborn. It includes those whom it’s so easy to vilify—abortion clinicians. Let’s be pro-all-life.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” says Matthew 5:33-34 .Johnson echoes this as her advice for those of us working for change: “Our enemy is not flesh and blood—it’s powers and principalities… Satan and sin. See [abortion workers] like we see ourselves: sinners.”