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!
About half of the population will made a New Year’s Resolution to usher in 2014. Some of you will set big, audacious goals with much public fanfare. Others will set smaller personal goals measured in incremental changes, and we all will see varying measures of success (or failure). As prolife and faithful people, it goes without saying that we all yearn to follow the heart of Christ and seek an end to evil, especially the evils that attack the sanctity of human life.
As we make our annual resolutions, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how to give this year's most popular resolutions a prolife boost.
Resolution: Eat Healthier
Prolife Boost: While specific advice varies, the general consensus is that a good way to eat more healthy foods is to be more intentional in how you eat. Perhaps that means portion control, making healthier selections, or simply abstaining from a dietary bad habit. In any case, if your plans include making changes in what you eat, consider also making a change in how you eat. Say a quick blessing prior to your meal, remembering those who are hungry.
Resolution: Exercise More
Prolife Boost: Many common prayers, especially for those from a liturgical background, are broken into cadences of ten, fifteen, or twenty. I’m horrible at counting during exercise. If I’m doing three sets of ten reps with a dumbbell, my math goes something like this “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Oh, I like those pants she is wearing. What number am I on? um....10!” Instead, I now recite a “Hail Mary” – which naturally has a cadence of ten. An “Our Father” fits pretty nicely in a count of 15. I often go to the gym on Saturdays, which is one of the most active abortion clinic days in our town, so I’ve made saying a prayer for the women our volunteers met that day part of my routine. Running is a great opportunity for extemporaneous prayer – if you are alone with your thoughts, why not turn them to God? While these may not work for your highest intensity workouts, it is a nice break from watching another television rerun.
Resolution: Spend more time with family
Prolife Boost: Make a special effort to spend time with elderly family members. If your elderly family members are deceased, consider “adopting” a grandparent from a nursing home, pay a visit to Grandpa’s former golfing buddy, or drop by to check on that aging neighbor down the street. Our society has devalued the life of the elderly and the infirm just as it has the unborn. Our love, friendship, and mercy are as necessary at the end stages of life as they are in the beginning.
Resolution: Get Organized
Prolife Boost: Whether this means sorting through those scary hallway closets, establishing a family schedule, or just getting out the door on time, many of us want to take the clutter and chaos out of the New Year. So, as you clean out the closet, don’t just toss everything in the trash. While you should get rid of things that are stained, broken, or past their expiration date, you may have items that will make someone’s life a little better. That yarn you bought in 2012 (when your resolution was to adopt the trendy hobby of knitting) would probably be a welcomed by a shut-in. Those maternity and baby clothes might give a struggling pregnant woman a boost of happiness. And as long as you are penciling in family holidays and vacation times, why not save the date to see Abby Johnson on June 9th or plan to adopt an hour during 40 Days for Life?
Resolution: Improve Money Management
Prolife Boost: Financial success is not just about having cash in the bank, budgeting for nice things, and paying down the credit card. True, those are all great objectives, but just as you should be intentional in your earning and spending habits, you should plan your giving as well. Charitable giving is not just for the wealthy; it is something that we all need to make a priority. While the amount that we can each give varies, our need to be charitable does not. Moreover, with a little pre-planning, you can make a modest contribution pay off for you and the organization you are supporting. Prolife groups like Greater Columbus Right to Life need financial support and volunteer commitment to continue our work in the community. Beginning in 2014, we will be working with the Stewardship Foundation, which will create an opportunity for our donors to better maximize the tax benefits that can come from charitable giving. Also consider how your talents could be used to further the prolife cause. We are in need of volunteers who can assist with website design, data entry, graphics, and writing thank-you notes.
Whatever your resolutions for 2014 are, consider giving them a prolife boost – and let us know what your plans are! I’d also invite you to make a specific prolife resolution of your very own. Perhaps you will take a sidewalk counseling class, commit joining the 40 Days for Life committee, volunteer to organize your church’s respect life group, or plan to attend one of our 2014 events. Whatever you do, we are here to support you the best that we can, because our goal each and every single day is to protect innocent human life from conception until natural death.
May God Bless you in the New Year!