OpinionTue May 14, 2013 - 2:45 pm EST
Abby Johnson: If Gosnell deserves death and hell, tell me, what do I deserve?
Note: Abby Johnson is a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic who converted to the pro-life cause. She has since founded a ministry, And Then There Were None, which is dedicated to helping workers in abortion clinics transition out of the industry.
May 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - I am vehemently against the death penalty. Now stay with me…this is not a post about my opinion regarding that. You can disagree or agree with me on that some other time. I did want to share a little bit about why I take the words of prolifers so seriously. I have heard so much vitriol spewed from the mouths of "Christian prolifers" since the Gosnell trial has concluded. I feel like I must address it.
When I was confirmed as a Catholic, I chose Mary Magdalene as my confirmation saint. I felt an immediate connection to her. She had sinned so much…and was forgiven in even greater amounts. She knew she didn’t deserve forgiveness…but she received it anyway. And because of this, she clung to Christ. She knew she was nothing without Him.
I have also done my fair share of sinning. And I have also been forgiven much more than I deserve. I abused and betrayed women in the worst possible way. I convinced them to kill their children. Did I slit the necks of children after they were born? No. But, I was an accomplice to murder. Thousands of times…women I knew, women I didn’t, my friends, even my family. I lied to people. I lied to women when they came to me for accurate information. I was among the worst sinners…those that help to take and destroy life. I am no better than Kermit Gosnell.
I took my own children’s lives…twice. Not because I was coerced. Not because I didn’t know better. But because I thought children would be an inconvenience to my lifestyle. I am responsible for their deaths…no one else.
So when someone talks about Gosnell and says things like, “murderers and people like him don’t deserve to breathe the same air as I do,” or "I hope he burns in hell," it hurts a little. Because that was me. But I am still here…breathing that same air…and trying to spend my life righting my wrongs. And it’s not just me. I know they hurt others like me, as well. People who have left the abortion industry and will work every day to recover from their sins. People who are still in the industry and think they will be shunned by the pro-life movement…maybe they would reach out to us if they knew we would accept them. I am always terrified that clinic workers will see some of the words from prolifers. I have been told by several former workers that they will never come forward with their stories because they are so scared of how they will be treated by us...by us...the supposed "Christian" movement. Their fears are real and legitimate.
I know some will say, “but you repented, that is the difference.” But what if I hadn’t…not yet. What if I was still inside the abortion industry? What if I was still an accomplice to murder? What if it took me longer to realize the truth? Do I deserve to die? Are we saying repentance is about our timing? Certainly, it is not about us. It about God and His perfect timing.
Right now, I shouldn’t be in this movement. I should be the COO of the 4th largest revenue generating Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country. I should be overseeing the largest abortion facility in the Western Hemisphere. I should be making six times the amount of money that I make in the pro-life movement. But I’m not. Why? Because of forgiveness. Because of mercy. Because of grace. Because of God. And because of real pro-lifers. The people I turned to accepted me for me...baggage and all. They knew that I was a broken person, and they loved me anyway. They knew I needed significant healing, and they helped to provide it.
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I remember one story in particular which always makes me tear up when I think about it. One of the ladies, Karen, that immediately befriended me after I left Planned Parenthood, was asked a question by a reporter. He asked her, "So, what was Abby like before she became pro-life? I mean, how nasty was she?" Karen's answer was so genuine, and so Christ-like. She simply said, "I don't remember that person. She is a new creation in Christ. I won't talk about her past, I only want to talk about her future." Wow. What grace. What forgiveness. She could have really spilled the beans on me, but she chose not to. Why? Because she truly loved me...and she always had, even while I was working at Planned Parenthood. She always believed the best in me, always believed that my conversion would happen.
It was Christ who changed me. It was the merciful and compassionate words of His people. It was no condemnation. It was not prayers that I would burn in hell. It was not those who yelled and called me names. It was the words of people like Karen. Those who prayed that I would, one day, walk out of that clinic. Those who had constant faith...even when that faith was a struggle to have. I am here because of them and because of their Christ-like witness.
Don't we want that for every abortion clinic worker and abortion provider? Don't we want that for Kermit Gosnell? I smile every time I imagine his conversion. What a heavenly victory that will be! Can it happen? If you say no, then you do not know the God that I do. My God is in the business of miracles. And my God does not want anyone to suffer in hell. He wants all of his children to come to him...yes, even those of us "monsters" that are in or have been in the abortion industry.
Hate comes from hell. Mercy comes from Christ. When we have hate in our hearts, our spirits are damaged. Be careful with your words. Not only are you a living witness of Christ and His truth, but you could put your own soul at risk. "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him." 1 John 3:15 When we hate, we are no better than those who kill.
I am not the sweetest person. I’m not the one who catches all the flies with honey…sometimes I am all vinegar. What do you expect? You expect the most tender-hearted to work in the abortion industry? Maybe we aren’t like all of you. Maybe we aren’t the most kind-hearted. Maybe you don't understand how we could do what we have done. But those of us that leave…we are fighters. We are willing to take hits for our former sins. We are willing to stand up in places that are uncomfortable. We are willing to be bruised by others because we know that we have to…we know that will be the price we pay…it just hurts more when the bruises come from those who should be rejoicing in our repentance. We are passionate. We don’t waste time beating around the bush…not when it comes to life…especially the lives that we helped take.
Those of us that have worked in the industry all live our lives with a constant burden. One that will not be free from us until we reach heaven. We can’t let our burden slide off of our shoulders, it is what keeps us on fire. It reminds us of why we fight so hard. We have seen death and evil in a way that most haven’t…and we participated. We are forgiven.
So, should I be able to “breathe the same air as you?” That’s not really up to me to decide. But if you say things like that, know that a small piece of our heart is broken, and I have to believe that it grieves Christ. But even if you break our hearts, we forgive you. Even if you bruise us, we forgive you. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. And we love a lot. I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can call Kermit Gosnell a former and REPENTANT abortion provider.