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!
A July 31 article in The Columbus Dispatch reported about Todd Smith, a Columbus City Police Officer, who is charged with the coercion and enticement of a minor. Mr. Smith is accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year old student at Centennial High School and trying to have sex with her. Mr. Smith was assigned to protect the students and staff at that school.
He also worked as an off-duty policeman every other Saturday at the Founder's abortion facility on 1243 East Broad St.
I wish I could say that I'm surprised that an abortion worker treats women and children this way, but I'm not. Abortion denies the unique nature of women and treats our wombs like machines at a manufacturing facility that can be turned on and off, emptied, and its contents used or discarded at the whim and will of its owner. Why should we be surprised that a man who chooses to work at an abortion facility would see women any differently?
Those of you who have heard me speak about my experiences as a former abortion worker have heard me beg your prayers for these workers. Some abortion workers enter the industry with good intentions - to help women. They believe the lie that abortion is good for women and they are improving women's lives through their work. But they are heading down a steep and slippery path into the darkness and evil of abortion, and they get sucked into accepting more and more lies about women, women's health, the nature of sexual relationships, and more. They are like frogs in a soup pot with the heat being turned up slowly so they do not realize they are being cooked.
So what should be our response to news such as this? May I suggest prayer and action?
Pray for those involved.
I'm heartbroken for the girl, who apparently had some sort of ongoing relationship with Mr. Smith that culminated in him attempting to have sex with her and threatening her that she should not to tell anyone about their relationship. Another 15-year old student from Centennial High School has come forward saying that she also was involved with Mr. Smith, sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages, sending topless photos of herself, and performing oral sex on Mr. Smith. These young girls need our prayers. They are victims.
I'm also heartbroken for Mr. Smith's wife who is now dealing with her husband's betrayal of their marriage covenant in a most horrific and public way. I cannot even begin to imagine what she is going through. She also needs our prayers.
I will also pray for Todd Smith. If these charges are proven to be true and he is found guilty, Mr. Smith committed unspeakable acts against children and I hope he receives the maximum punishment allowable by law. Women of any age are not sexual objects to owned, used, abused, and then thrown away. Women are precious gifts of God and our affections and bodies should be prized and protected by the men in our lives and society. That these women are children only compounds the horrendous nature of Mr. Smith's alleged actions. Yet, we are called to pray for our enemies, and if Mr. Smith is guilty of these charges then he is indeed an enemy of women and children. We are called to see all people as Christ sees them - and Christ died for Mr. Smith as certainly as he died for me.
Turn your prayers into action.
40 Days for Life is right around the corner! During the 40 day period from Sept. 26 through Nov. 4, please act on your convictions that abortion is evil and join us in fasting, prayer, community outreach and vigil at the Complete Healthcare for Women abortion clinic. Step up and help us lead the campaign by assisting with event planning, coordinating a day of prayer, or helping to organize a group to do some community outreach and education. There are many ways to get involved, and we need your participation to make this campaign the biggest yet! Call Katelyn Neil at (614) 395-8404 or send her an email at email@example.com to discuss how you can help. She'd love to hear from you!
Our sidewalk counselors are making a difference! These incredible men and women stand on the precipice between life and death throwing a life-line to the women and families walking into the abortion clinic in an effort to save them and their preborn children. They help people to see women in a different light. They honor women and the children they carry in their wombs. Are you called to this? We can help you with training and support. Contact me at 614.445.8508 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Stand with us financially. Without your support, Greater Columbus Right to Life could not continue. Join us for dinner on August 19 at our Spiritus Banquet (click here to register), meet Melissa Ohden and enjoy an inspirational evening in support of our educational foundation - the foundation from which we do at least 80% of our work. There are other ways to support us financially as well. Contact Lori Dobos at 614.556.0299 or email@example.com to learn more.
Thank you for all you do to defend life!
Saturday morning my husband and I went to the Founders abortion facility on East Broad to sidewalk counsel with Tricia and her prayer partners from St. Patrick Parish. You never know who you'll get to meet on the sidewalk. Saturday as I stood in the alleyway behind Founders I had a breif chat with one of the abortion workers.
"I used to in a clinic like this one," I said. "I don't work there anymore."
"I guess not, since you're standing back there!" she said.
I introduced myself and asked her name. "Nancy," she told me.
Oh how I remember those days working at the abortion facility, mistrusting everyone on the "outside" and expecting the worst from them at any moment. I wonder where I'd be today if it weren't for those "crazy pro-lifers" on the sidewalk. They didn't know my name, but I'm sure that they prayed for my anyway.
Well, I know Nancy's name now, and I'm praying for her. I hope you will, too. Along with Nancy, will you please pray for these other men and women we spoke with on Saturday morning?
A young woman who came by herself. She entered the abortion facility and came out about 20 minutes later and left. She was crying when she left and Tricia was able to share with her that we were there because we love her and want to help her. Tricia gave her some information about Women's Care Center, the pregnancy resource center just a few blocks down the street and offered to go to the center with her. "I need to think about it," she said. She left alone, but with the message of hope and love and information about a place she can turn to for help. Please pray that she takes the message to heart and goes to Women's Care Center.
A young couple who I spoke with before they went into the abortion facility. "I have to go, I have an appointment." She was clearly upset and looked like she was about to break down. She received the information I offered her, but she wouldn't stay and talk with me. She and young man with her went into Founders. Please pray for this young couple as the crisis they were hoping to avoid with the abortion will only give way to more and new crisis in the days and years to come.
The Columbus police office, Officer Smith, who is one of two officers hired to provide off-duty security on Saturdays. We spoke about security issues at the facility and about his thoughts on abortion. We spoke in detail about abortion and the "exception" case of rape. Please pray for Officer Smith that he will remember and think about this conversation. I look forward to continuing this conversation with him in the weeks to come.