A few years ago, my husband and I lingered a little longer than usual in a Barnes & Noble bookstore as I had found myself engrossed in a book whose cover had caught my eye, despite the “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” I had always believed. I saw the book from a distance and it was the title that trapped my attention, “Unplanned.” I walked over and picked up the book and began reading — something much harder to do when ordering online — I’m still a lover of bookstores, a lover of books in my hand.
As a poor, newly married couple who had just spent most of our savings on our move to North Carolina, buying even a book seemed like it might break the bank, but I couldn’t put it down. I could not, not have this book — I had to read it — I had to finish it. My husband, knowing my love for books and seeing my uncanny attachment to this one, seemed to have no problem sacrificing $20, and for that I was grateful. Here’s why:
At first, the baby didn’t seem aware of the cannula. It gently probed the baby’s side, and for a quick second I felt relief. Of course, I thought. The fetus doesn’t feel pain. I had reassured countless women of this as I’d been taught by Planned Parenthood. The fetal tissue feels nothing as it is removed. Get a grip, Abby. This is a simple, quick medical procedure. My head was working hard to control my responses, but I couldn’t shake an inner disquiet that was quickly mounting to horror as I watched the screen.
The next movement was the sudden jerk of a tiny foot as the baby started kicking, as if trying to move away from the probing invader. As the cannula pressed in, the baby began struggling to turn and twist away. It seemed clear to me that the fetus could feel the cannula and did not like the feeling. And then the doctor’s voice broke through, startling me.
‘Beam me up, Scotty,’ he said lightheartedly to the nurse. He was telling her to turn on the suction… I had a sudden urge to yell, ‘Stop!’ To shake the woman and say, ‘Look at what is happening to your baby! Wake up! Hurry! Stop them!’
But even as I thought those words, I looked at my own hand holding the probe. I was one of ‘them’ performing this act. My eyes shot back to the screen again. The cannula was already being rotated by the doctor, and now I could see the tiny body violently twisting with it. For the briefest moment it looked as if the baby were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then the little body crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then everything was gone. And the uterus was empty. Totally empty.
I was shocked, grieved, captivated, disgusted, sorrowful and eerily intrigued. I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know how it turned out for this abortion worker. I needed her perspective.
That was 5 years ago now, and I’m amazed at how well, almost word-for-word, I remember Abby Johnson’s description of watching and aiding the ultra-sound guided abortion. While the description of the abortion procedure forever altered my mindset, Abby’s perspective of the prayer warriors outside of the clinic, her family and others who lovingly witnessed to the testimony of grace found in Jesus Christ left an even deeper mark on my heart. Throughout the book she recounts a number of people who testified against the hideousness of abortion and to the forgiveness Christ offers in ways unlike what I’ve seen in the headlines where picketers spew vitriol.
Over the years I have become more and more aware of missing rhetoric in our pro-life position — being whole-life pro-life — a pro-life ethic. A call to love even the image of God bearers performing the procedures, setting up the appointments for these procedures, counseling these women to have these procedures — Christ died for them too. His grace is sufficient for them also.
I am praying as the pro-life movement gains traction and momentum, as we see small (arguably great) victories in legislation, that we as Christians will rise to the occasion in all areas of valuing human life as Christ does. We can be angry, and we should be angry, over the atrocity that is this baby holocaust, but our anger has a source at which and at whom to be directed: sin and Satan. Our enemy is real and our call is to wage war against him, but not in our own strength, in Christ’s; not from the depleted well of sadness, but from an overflowing heart of joy and hope.
Waging this war requires a pro-active step to incorporate love for the abortion worker into our pro-life rhetoric. Here are three practical applications for doing so:
- Consider the abortion worker. When speaking on the issue of life and abortion, remember abortion workers are a major component in this issue, whose lives God has also marked with intrinsic worth and dignity.
- Pray for the abortion worker, by name when possible. This requires knowledge of local clinics and their staff. Be intentional about praying specifically for these people.
- Care for the abortion worker. Should the Lord bless you, or someone in your church body with the opportunity to build a relationship with an abortion worker, be prepared to walk with them through the hardship of transitioning out of the abortion industry and into life affirming work.
We need to recognize the subversive guile of our enemy and take note. A lack of love and compassion for the abortion worker is a lack of understanding what it means to be pro-life.
The book is Unplanned by Abby Johnson. Check out the website for her organization, www.abortionworker.com. You’ll find great resources to battle the abortion industry and love the abortion worker.
A version of this post was originally published at ColoredInPages.