A Planned Parenthood facility director who later filed a lawsuit against her former employer and testified against the abortion giant in a congressional hearing, Sue Thayer, died on Tuesday following a short battle with kidney cancer. She was 62.
Her daughter, Kim Thayer, announced her passing in a Facebook post. “Mom lost her earthly battle with a rare, aggressive form of cancer but won the final war when she woke up in the arms of our Heavenly Father,” wrote Kim.
To family and friends, Thayer was known as a joyful woman of deep Christian faith. Most recently, she had served as director of outreach at 40 Days for Life, an ecumenical group based in central Texas and active in 63 countries that mobilizes prayer vigils outside abortion centers.
The ministry’s president, Shawn Carney, called Thayer “irreplaceable” and “an important part of the pro-life movement around the world” in a tribute video.
Women’s health advocate and author Abby Johnson, known for also exiting Planned Parenthood, said Thayer will be “greatly missed by many.” Johnson stated online: “Sue has been a force in the prolife movement. She was a constant encourager [and] amazing friend … who would always call or text at just the right time.”
A native of Storm Lake, Iowa, Thayer had served on staff at a local Planned Parenthood abortion center for 17 years before being fired in 2008. Five years later, she founded Cornerstone for Life Pregnancy Resource Center, which continues to provide compassionate care.
Thayer was a mother of five children, three of whom were adopted. Friends have started a GoFundMe page to help defray the burial costs and benefit her family as they move forward.
Betrayed by Her Former Employer
At pro-life rallies and benefit dinners, Thayer frequently shared her testimony of being involved firsthand in the abortion industry. Her tenure at the abortion facility affiliated with Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa began in 1991.
Early in 2008, according to Thayer, the group introduced what she termed “webcam abortions,” wherein non-medical staff provide women the Mifeprex pill regimen following an exam with a physician via the internet. (Just this past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the Biden administration lifted remaining restrictions on this abortion pill.)
When Thayer questioned these policies, she was fired. Carney, who underlined the boldness of her stand against her former employer, said: “Her life really was a walking miracle.”
Her speeches often emphasized the betrayal she felt from her former employer. “I started working at Planned Parenthood believing that I could serve young women and make their lives better,” said Thayer. “Over nearly two decades inside Planned Parenthood, I learned that was a lie. Planned Parenthood is more concerned about its bottom line than it is about the health and safety of women.”
Discussing her past three years at 40 Days for Life, Carney addressed the seeming contradiction of one who “loved life with such joy” yet often discussed abortion practices in stark terms.
“She never sugarcoated what she saw or what she had been part of,” he said. “She had seen the evil of abortion and the abortion industry firsthand, but she wasn’t bitter [or] mad. You could see God was using her for a greater good.”
In fall 2011, Thayer led a 40-day prayer vigil outside of her former Planned Parenthood facility. That abortion facility closed the next year.
Pro-life Message in Congress, the Courts, and More
Thayer did much more than lift up the pro-life faithful. In conjunction with Alliance Defending Freedom, Thayer filed a lawsuit in 2011 accusing Planned Parenthood of fraudulent billing practices—specifically, of defrauding American taxpayers by overbilling Medicaid.
During summer 2015, a series of videos from undercover journalist David Daleiden exposed unethical practices at Planned Parenthood and related entities. When the House Judiciary Committee subsequently held hearings to investigate the abortion industry, Thayer was invited to testify in a hearing before Congress in October 2015. She shared her story and answered follow-up questions.
Thayer offered a blunt analysis of her former employer’s business model. “Officially, Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit, but their main concern is really their bottom line,” she said. “They are all about the profit.”
In early 2019, issues of abortion reentered the national conversation with the release of the major motion picture “Unplanned” about Johnson’s dramatic life story. Thayer championed the release and called it her favorite movie.
That spring, Thayer was invited on to a popular U.K. debate show to defend the pro-life position against Ann Furedi, then head of Britain’s largest abortion provider.
Carney, who hired Thayer at 40 Days for Life in 2018, noted her passing was “sudden” and “hard.” According to a recent post, she had been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma only months ago.
Luana Stoltenberg of Davenport, Iowa, who testified in Congress alongside Thayer in 2015, wrote online in tribute: “Sue, I will miss you so much. My life was better because I knew you. I know you are up there playing with children, and rocking babies. I love you friend.”
During a 2019 interview, Thayer summed up her life’s cause when speaking of some of the national losses incurred by legalized abortion: “Sixty-one million babies is really beyond our comprehension. It’s the most pressing issue in America.”