On Monday, June 9th, more than 700 gathered to hear Abby Johnson at the Greater Columbus Right to Life Spiritus banquet. Abby famously left her position as the clinic director for one of Planned Parenthood’s largest abortion affiliates in October of 2009, the day she was asked to assist with an ultra-sound guided abortion. Abby, in an instant, saw the truth behind all the lies she had been telling women for nearly a decade. Since then, she has been traveling the world sharing her story, exposing the reality of abortion and abortion giant Planned Parenthood, and helping hundreds to heal from the deep wound caused by abortion. Over the last two years, she has helped more than 100 former abortion clinic employees to leave the industry.
Beth Vanderkooi, executive director of Greater Columbus Right to Life, shared, “We brought Abby to Columbus because we are seeing many of the same things here in Columbus that led to her radical conversion of heart: the commitment to peaceful and loving prayer at area clinics, the development of a sidewalk counselor program, and the movement within churches and communities to reach out to women in need and say ‘There is a better choice.’”
Abby’s 45-minute speech was heart-wrenching and somber, but also funny and warmhearted. Mincing no words, she recited the abortion procedure protocol at Planned Parenthood – everything from the blind-nature of the vacuum aspiration procedure to the “POC” (products of conception) room where clinic staff members reassemble the contents of the uterus in an effort to make sure the abortion doctor did not leave any part of the baby behind. Abby encouraged the Christian faithful not to think of abortion as a problem that exists outside the church, reminding the crowd that most people having abortions are Christians, noting: “I cannot tell you the number of women who would read their Bibles and pray before having an abortion, or the number who would be laying down in the recovery chairs, hunched down, grasping their rosaries with tears running down their cheeks after the procedure. I was in church the Sunday before my abortion, and I was in church the Sunday after my abortion.”
One attendee commented, “Abby said that as she watched the baby on the ultrasound, she realized it wasn’t a blob of cells or a ‘product of conception’ but a baby who was about to die, and yet she just stood there and let it happen, not unlike how society just stands there and lets it happen. That really hit home for me. Abortion exists because we, the Church, let it. We can stop it, but we do not.”
Jennifer H., a parishioner at Church of our Lady who is active in sidewalk and music ministry and organizes sidewalk prayer for Pick-life, said: “I was just so inspired by the entire night; words cannot describe it. I was especially impacted by the challenge to become more active in our church, in our community, and to thank our clergy for their courage to stand up for the unborn. Everyone was inspired and challenged to make a difference, and at least one woman expressed the courage to go through HEART (a post-abortion recovery and healing program). We need the courage to speak out about abortion – not just that it is evil, but that the church provides a way for healing and reconciliation and forgiveness.”
For those who missed the Spiritus banquet but are interested in hearing Abby’s message, video highlights and photographs will be available over the next few weeks; we’ll share those as soon as we receive them from our photographer and videographer. It also isn’t too late to send a contribution to help make this the most successful fundraiser in our history!
Prayer works, and we are seeing it in our community.
Recently, I shared that one of the largest drops in the number of abortions that our region has seen in recent years was the year that we brought the 40 Days for Life campaign to Columbus. That year, we saw a drop in the number of abortions performed here by more than 20%, a rate that far outpaced any other community in the state or the state as a whole.
We’ve also heard from women who saw someone quietly praying at the clinic and either turned away from her abortion or, if she went through with the procedure anyway, remembered the holiness of the person praying and has shared that it was the thought of that prayer that brought into a post-abortion recovery or healing program, or even back to her faith. We also hear from leaders like Abby Johnson that the abortion industry has said that when people are out praying the no-show rate for abortion procedures rises to 75%.
We also see again and again the influence that those out praying have on clinic workers and directors, many of whom leave the industry and find the courage to speak up about what is really going on inside.
Prayer can unite people of different faiths, give solace to the ill, provide strength to the struggling, and bring joy and hope to those who seek a growing relationship with God.
To the skeptic, these can be explained away as are anecdotal or coincidental or even superstitious. To those who have faith, however, we are confident that they are the tools by which God brings about great changes here on earth and in our hearts. So we steadfastly pray – even when we do not see or even feel the effect of our prayers. We still know that they are efficacious.
Why am I mentioning this? Because prayer has brought about another change in the community. About a year ago, a group of us sat together and talked about the idea of moving 40 Days for Life’s fall vigil to Founder’s – Ohio’s oldest abortion clinic. Our sidewalk counselors had been focusing on the clinic for nearly a year, and we were sensing the effectiveness. Our thought was that bringing the power of intensive prayer to Founder’s could start to shift the culture of the community and the spiritual environment. So we invited our 40 Days team to come pray with us at Founder’s.
Admittedly, reactions from our volunteers were all over the place. A few people felt uncomfortable with the new environment. Others reported that seeing women go in just for the purpose of abortion created a new sense of urgency. Still others appreciated the opportunity to pray at a new clinic and joined the ranks of our sidewalk counselor team. Meanwhile, with the additional prayer support, our sidewalk counselors saw more and more women turn away.
Since then, we’ve seen changes at the clinic. In the weeks following the 40 Days for Life, Founder’s had a few things happen. Among them, the clinic changed is procedures to stop doing abortions after the fifteenth week. It was also sued. The clinic changed its procedures rather drastically. Until December of 2013, Founder’s performed abortions up to 20 weeks gestation. The below photograph captures an image from their website as of December 2013. As you can see, abortions under 12 weeks cost $400 (plus the cost of additional serviced such as sedation and pain pills). The price point increases for every week of gestation (for surgical procedures) until the 20th week, at which point they refer a woman to another clinic out of state.
A few weeks later, the Founder’s website changed.
The Clinic has stopped doing abortions after 15 weeks gestation, at least at this time.
What does this mean? Well, it is hard to say. Statewide, about fifteen percent of all abortions happen after thirteen weeks gestation (the data is not available for those happening strictly after 15 weeks). Other clinics – here in Columbus and throughout the state continue to do them until the point of viability (Ohio law generally prohibits abortions after viability - the point when a baby can survive outside the womb). To some minds this will be a victory – one fewer clinic doing abortions after 15 weeks gestation. Others will concede that point, but recognize that the baby 14 weeks old is just as important as the baby 17 weeks old. Still others will suggest that we should not celebrate at all until every baby at every age is safe from abortion.
We at Greater Columbus Right to Life will keep working until every baby is safe, but until then we will celebrate every life saved. Make no mistake, however: the fact that Ohio's oldest abortion clinic has voluntarily chosen to reduce its scope of activities is a sign that the culture is starting to shift in our community. This was not a change brought about by legislation or regulation. It was the "choice" of the clinic. We will continue to share the truth – that no woman should feel that abortion is her best or only choice. We will continue to pray that this is just the first step to seeing Founder’s close entirely because there is neither need nor provider.
Today, however, we are grateful to all of those who join us in praying for the light of Christ to shine down at Founder’s clinic. We are grateful to see this small sign that it is not simply business at usual. You can call it coincidence, you can call it anecdotal, and you can call it insubstantial. We are calling it providential. Prayer works. We just need to keep working together and keep praying together.
PS - There are ten days left of 40 Days for Life. You could make a real difference by joining us to pray!
“Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
This famous statement attributed to St. Francis of Assisi reminds us of a basic principal of teaching and influenceing others. People understand a message more when more than hearing it, they see it lived out before them in the life and example of the speaker.
Today is the annual “Day of Silent Solidarity”. Students on campuses around the world have taken a pledge to remain silent for one day – to stand in solidarity with those who will never have the opportunity to use their voice – those who have been silenced forever by the horror of abortion.
Many of them are wearing across their mouth a piece of red duct tape with the word “Life” written on it. Others are wearing a red arm band or badge imprinted with “Life”. They will remain silent – even through classes, lunch, sports, band and choir practice.
Some of those students are at schools right here in the Greater Columbus Region, including Capital University, Gahanna Lincoln High School, Fairfield Career Center, Fairfield High School, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio State University, Pickerington High School North, and St. Charles Preparatory School.
I’m proud of these students. They’re taking a bold stand for life. They will probably be mocked and ridiculed for doing something so “silly” as to cover their mouths with and be silent for a day. They will be tempted to give in, to give up. There will be no “fitting in” today; these students will stand out like a fresh rose in a bouquet of dried flowers, and it will be difficult.
Following is an article written by Bryan Kemper, president of Stand True and founder of the Day of Silent Solidarity. He explains how this global movement of one day of silence began. In it he challenges us to not “cower in the face of adversity”. How easy it is to fold under the pressure of adversity! But as we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (NIV)
Please pray for these students today. Pray that they will be able to withstand the temptation and the pressure to give up part-way through. Pray that their witness will have an impact on their fellow classmates as well as the faculty and staff.
And join them. Today at 4:00 some of these students will gather at the site of our 40 Days for Life campaign to stand in silence as hundreds of cars go by. They will have written materials to give to pedestrians who pass by. They will pray. They will preach the gospel of life – without using a single spoken word.
Out 40 Days for Life Campaign site is on the sidewalk in front of Complete HealthCare for Women, 5888 Cleveland Ave. Parkingis available at St. John Chrysostom Bysantine Catholic Church, 5858 Cleveland Ave.,
Share the Vision
In the spring of 2004, a student from McNeese State University asked me, “What can I do to work with other students around the country, in solidarity, to help end abortion?”
I hear things like that all the time from the students I speak to. “What can I do? I have ideas, but I don’t know what to do with them. Can I really make a difference? I’m just one person.”
When this student asked me, a spark went off in my head.
I replied, “What if we got students to not only act in solidarity with others, but also with the children that are dying every day?” As soon as I said it, I knew God had set something in motion inside of me.
At the time, I was one person working from the basement of my home with a computer, a web site, and a small e-mail list that I had been collecting for a few months. I wasn't really sure what could be accomplished with that, but I offered it to God and started sending out emails.
Now, something that started its first year as just a few thousand students from 300 campuses has grown into a world-wide outpouring of love and action. The Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity is in its 6th year, and last year we had students from more than 4,800 campuses in 25 countries stand together in solidarity. We have heard of hundreds of girls who have cancelled abortions because of this day every year.
Hearts are being changed, babies are being saved, and women are being spared the trauma of post-abortive pain. People are coming together in unity to promote a culture of life. Personhood is being restored on campuses across the nation.
I really cannot take any credit for the success of this movement. It is only God who grants us the power to do this. I was one person who listened to God and, through Him, acted on the vision He gave me.
If you have an idea, a vision or dream, don’t be afraid to stand up and let your voice be heard. Don’t doubt what you can accomplish with Christ. Don’t think that because you are just one person you can’t make a difference.
“I have a dream”–a statement powerfully spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and yet so much more than just words. He did not r in the face of adversity. He spoke those words with passion and conviction. He challenged the world to stand up for the rights and equality of all men.
I, too, have a dream. I, too, will not cower in the face of adversity. I believe that, through Christ, we can restore personhood to the most innocent of our brothers and sisters: the children in the womb.
Today, 4000 of my generation will be silenced.
Today 4000 of my brothers and sisters lives will be ended simply because of their age.
Today, I will stand up and share my dream, my idea, and my vision with the world.
Will you stand with me?
For Christ I stand,
In the darkness
I spent an hour or more in front of 5888 Cleveland Ave…
Our local Abortion Clinic and here are some thoughts
Take a close look at the building…
The only windows are those by the entrance door
All the others have been boarded up… and covered over
To keep out the light
To keep out the truth…
The only light within the building must come from manmade lights
Manmade electricity and manmade fixtures
Natural light is not allowed in…
In essence… it is a building of darkness…
In its darkness…
The most horrible of all tragedies takes place
Babies are killed, not given the chance to live
They are snatched from their mother’s wombs…
Outside, on the sidewalk… 15 decades of the Rosary…
153 times… the words… “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
Inside the darkness of this building…
That blessedness is seen as a curse…
The joyful mysteries… reminded me of the joys on hearing
That my own children were conceived
In the darkness of this building
That joy is looked upon as terrifying
The sorrowful mysteries… reminded me of the agony in the garden…
Where Jesus, our Lord, contemplated his pending death
In the darkness of this place...
Our infants, too, contemplate
Their own death by unspeakable means…
The Glorious mysteries… encouraged me… that yes,
Jesus was crucified, yes, He died on the cross
And yes, He rose again victorious…
Let us be mindful… that we too, will be victorious
With the Lord at our side..
The Glorious mysteries… during this time a bird perched on
One of the faux window sills
And chirped though out their recitation…
The sun came out… and a new warmth was felt
May God continue to bless all those who come out to openly
Pray for the end of Abortion
May God continue to bless all those who silently
Pray for the end of Abortion
May God continue to bless our efforts.
Luis A Torres
October 3, 2010
Lou is a member of St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Westerville, OH. He shares his thoughts after completing his prayer shift at the Complete HealthCare for Women abortion mill in Columbus, OH, where Greater Columbus Right to Life coordinates the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. If you have not yet committed to pray during the 40 Days for Life campaign, we urge you to do so. Visit www.gcrtl.org for more information about 40 Days for Life and other local Pro-Life education and advocacy efforts.
Today was my first time praying in front of an abortion clinic as part of 40 Days for Life.
Everything about the hour was surprising. When I walked up to the front of the building, I couldn’t believe the sign. Complete HealthCare for Women. Abortion is Healthcare? Unbelievable. And beneath those words were the doctors names and the the words: M.D.
I was brokenhearted. I am sure those men and women went to medical school to learn how to save lives. What happened in our society that good intentions could go so wrong?
I prayed fervently for about 20 minutes for the doctors to have a change of heart, to wake up to the fact that every Life Matters, to realize that their God-given gifts could be used for good. I prayed for them to receive God’s grace and for them to know that with true contrition, all sins are forgiven.
I began walking up and down the sidewalk praying the Rosary for the mamas and babies who would enter the clinic. I asked God to take all my selfishness from me for the next 20 minutes so I could give every ounce of my being to prayer.
I think it is really hard to pray with your whole heart and mind -- distractions lurk and muddle. It was cold, rainy and dark in a not-so-nice area on Cleveland Ave., Columbus. The cars, trucks and buses whizzing by were loud and my mind began to race. I prayed that the people in the cars might pray along with me. Please Lord, use my witness to awaken somebody driving by. Hail Mary full of grace ...
Then I noticed something odd. The windows on the abortion clinic weren’t normal. There was no glass; the windows were completely covered with what looked like white wood. Oddly and beautifully, each window had a center frame in the shape of the Cross. HOPE. By your Cross and Resurrection Lord You have set us free, You are the Savior of the world.
I continued praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. It was 8 a.m. and cars began pulling into the parking lot of the abortion clinic. Panic. Are mothers or workers walking into the abortion clinic? I couldn’t tell and I prayed harder. Please, please, please Lord let me be of some use to you this day ...
At the last Sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Christ dying on the Cross, I grew peaceful with the reminder that He died and rose for us and He is with each of us right now. He created us, He knows us and loves us more than we know. Lord, I know in my heart that You will somehow bring good out of this evil.
I left the abortion clinic praising God for this experience. I am grateful to my friends at Greater Columbus Right to Life (GCRTL), Pregnancy Decision Health Center (PDHC) and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Plain City for their encouragement in this prayer ministry. I will be back to pray again. This is just the beginning. Nothing is stronger than prayer, nothing. Won’t you join me?
~ Lori Crock
Child of God, active Catholic, wife and mom, small business owner