My babies never had an ultrasound while God developed them several decades ago. But when I saw the first sonic images of my first grandbean, I jumped up and down. “That’s a human be’in’!” I recall shouting, tears of joy streaming down my cheeks.
In 2009, Abby Johnson stood beside a pregnant mother, watching the images of that woman’s child on an ultrasound screen. What happened next devastated her.
Abby’s passion to help women had led her, a fresh-faced college student, to join Planned Parenthood as a staff member at one of their many clinics. Her work caught the attention of her superiors. Six years later she became the clinic’s director.
Abby didn’t perform abortions. She counseled and cared for the teenagers and women who came to the clinic looking for assistance with their pregnancies. One short-staffed day, a fellow staff member asked her to assist a visiting doctor performing an ultrasound-guided abortion — not the clinic’s customary procedure. Using the ultrasound added five minutes to each ten-minute abortion, meaning fewer abortions — and less revenue for the clinic.
“I could not have imagined how the next ten minutes would shake the foundation of my values and change the course of my life,” she writes in her book, “Unplanned, The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-opening Journey Across the Life Line.”
As she held the ultrasound scope, she noted the image of a perfectly formed 13 week fetus. “Fetuses feel no pain,” she told herself, quoting her training. She watched in horror as the little body twisted away from the suction instrument, then disappeared down the tube.
She writes, “I could hear in my memory one of the many arguments I’d had with my husband, Doug, about abortion. ‘When you were pregnant with Grace, it wasn’t a fetus; it was a baby,’ Doug had said. And now it hit me like a lightning bolt: He was right! What was in this woman’s womb just a moment ago was alive. It wasn’t just tissue, just cells. That was a human baby — fighting for life!”
Realizing the truth about abortion devastated Abby. A few hours later, she sat in the pro-life office next door, weeping. Today she’s an ardent defender of life, and a passionate spokesperson for the pro-life movement.
Abby Johnson’s history has shaped her unique attitude in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. “We all long for a story that shows that “our” side is right and good, and “their” side is wrong and bad, don’t we? But I testify that there is good and right and wrong on both sides of the fence. And even more shocking — we have far more in common with the “other” side than we might imagine.”
In the heightened emotion of this crucial re-emerging issue, that’s something the Giver of Life would have us all remember: Choose truth, and follow peace.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. To my precious mother, mother-in-law, and daughter, thank you for choosing life.