This afternoon, I left my daughter's home in Tyler Texas and was driving to Dallas airport; I switched on the radio which I had previously set to a Christian station that featured a lot of talk radio. To my surprise, the show was just beginning with a live interview with Abby Johnson, the latest addition to pro-life activists in the US. Abby left her job as director of the Bryan/College Station Planned Parenthood clinic in the fall of 2009 and has since undergone an amazing transformation.
Her book Unplanned was released last week and the last I heard it had rocketed to #3 on Amazon and a similar place at Barnes & Noble books. Apparently a book's sales in the first two weeks determine its fate; if it doesn't do well, it simply won't get promoted, so this bodes well for Abby's book.
The interview was interesting because the interviewer focused on Abby's portrayal of the people who work in the abortion industry. Even veteran pro-life blogger, Jill Stanek, was surprised by what Abby had to say. Basically, Abby wants pro-lifers to realise that many many people who work in the abortion industry, and specifically Planned Parenthood, are well-meaning concerned individuals who truly care about women. But they are completely deceived. Many feel uncomfortable in their work and some have told Abby they wish to leave but are afraid and unsure of their futures.
Her current work is often with those who are working in the abortion industry and wish to leave. Since the beginning of the 40 Days campaigns in 2004, a total of 43 workers have left the abortion business. Abby has nothing but praise for 40 Days for Life, a campaign that she says conveys love and concern for both the women who seek abortions and those who provide them, while standing firm on the tenet that abortion is deadly wrong. (Prior to the first 40 Days campaign outside Abby's workplace, there had been some pro-life people holding vigil there. One was dressed as the grim reaper and shouted slogans at those going in. When 40 Days began, Shawn Carney and David Bereit chased those folks away, thank goodness.)
Abby is quite a good speaker, able to converse easily without a script. She speaks from a unique experience, both as a woman who has had two abortions, but also as one who worked to actively promote the pro-choice climate. She admitted that, while she does regret her own abortions, that was not the most difficult thing to come to terms with. What she found hardest was the fact that she had been complicit in convincing thousands of women to kill their children. She said that her healing began when she came out to pray at the 40 Days vigil site outside her workplace, seventeen days after quitting her job there. Late at night, in pyjamas and with wet hair, she stood and looked through the fence at her workplace and, in her words, she "faced her sin." From there, God began to work mightily in her life, and she is surprised that she is doing what she is, since she never considered herself to be a spokesperson before.
The next hour of the program featured several other people active in different aspects of the pro-life ministry in the US. One woman heads up the political group, Republicans for Life, and another was someone who works with women in post-abortive ministry.
The life issue is alive and tangible in the US, unlike my own country of Canada. When I hear people talking about the senators who have declared their pro-life convictions publicly, and the results of the latest election which saw many pro-life Republicans replacing Democrats in the House, I am struck by how problematic the situation is in Canada.
Not only can one not discuss abortion openly in Canada, or get an article in the local newspaper about it, our politicians will not even open a debate on it. In fact, they simply do not have the freedom to be anything but in agreement with the status quo. So, unlike the American political scene which is open and full of vigorous debate, our Canadian politics is stymied and full of political correctness, even though the abortion situation is such that we actually have no law whatsoever. It was dropped in 1988 and never picked up again, and no one has had the guts to raise it again. Considered a done deal, our MPs say that it is "settled"; meanwhile over 300 babies are killed every day in our country.