The Abortion Wars: Abortion Worker Conversions and Modeling Christ

Some of the most committed pro lifers are former abortion workers.

Only people who have walked the other way can really know how horrific abortion is. That makes their dedication stronger and their testimony more compelling. They are among the most effective pro life warriors that we have.

Most pro life people are familiar with Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood Director who just got up from her desk at Planned Parenthood one day, went to the 40 Days for Life headquarters and sobbed, “I want out!”

What many of us don’t know is that in the past five years at least 70 abortion workers have experienced similar conversions. That may not sound like a lot of people, but each one of them is a miracle of God’s grace; a Saul on the Road to Damascus reversal of life direction. These people gave up their jobs, friends, maybe their family, because, in Abby Johnson’s words they “want out.”

What drives them to step out and take the risks involved in this huge reversal of the trajectory of their lives? I believe that it is the Holy Spirit, Who does not want any of God’s children to be lost. But I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is acting on the abortion workers alone. I think that pro life people are responding to grace and changing their tactics, as well. This combination is what is leading to these conversions.

In a Catholic World Report article, Shawn Carney, Campaign Director of 40 Days for life, says

In recent years, however, the exodus from the abortion industry has increased. Over the past five years alone, at least 70 abortion workers have had a change of heart and mind and left the industry.

“That is one statistic we wouldn’t have predicted,” said Shawn Carney, campaign director for 40 Days for Life, which has kept track of the abortion-industry departures.

“We hoped that mothers would choose life and that abortion businesses would close, but the abortion workers were another story,” said Carney. “They’re the ones who, on paper, are supposed to be our enemies, and yet the difference has been that the prayer and the peacefulness of our campaigns really wears on the workers.”

We have come a distance from the bad old days when pro-life people competed with one another in insulting and attacking pro choice, or pro abortion people. Somewhere along the line, the Holy Spirit helped pro life people figure out that they couldn’t convert people by slandering them.

There is still plenty of that type of pro-lifer around. I encounter some of them right here on this blog; people who denounce me because I distinguish between those who are genuinely (if confusedly) pro choice in their thinking and those who are just plain pro abortion. But better ways are taking hold within the movement, and they are bearing fruit.

I doubt if Abby Johnson would have left her office that day if she hadn’t felt there was a chance that the people at 40 Days for Life would welcome her. If she had felt that by leaving Planned Parenthood she was jumping directly into a volcano of hate, I daresay she would have toughened up and stifled her reservations until callouses formed around her heart and the opportunity to save her had passed.

I think that this change in us is part of the reason why we’ve begun, after all these decades, to see a rise in the number of abortion worker defections to the pro life camp. We have changed, and for the better. We’ve begun to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and model Christ for them.

There is a lesson in this for the Year of Faith for all of us. Faith is doing what God wants, using God’s tactics, not our own.

I’ve said that you can’t fight the devil with the devil’s weapons. That is true in all arenas, including this one.

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