It's been five years since Abby Johnson walked out of her Planned Parenthood abortion facility on October 5, 2009 in Bryan/College Station, Texas -- the very place where 40 Days for Life started. I will never forget that day.
I'm listing the top five things that I have learned about Abby Johnson since she crossed into uncharted water and came knocking on our door.
1. Abby is blessed
As a person who was trying to offer women abortion alternatives, drive down abortion business, help our community become abortion free, and put Abby out of a job, I had no idea five years ago just how blessed Abby is.
Abby has a selfless husband and loving parents. Through Abby?s conversion my greatest joy -- aside from seeing Abby make this transformation -- was discovering and getting to know her parents and her husband, Doug. Doug is a saint; just ask Abby or anyone who knows both of them.
The reality is that Abby was in a dark world that few escape. The abortion business is an evil and dangerous place. It requires souls to turn from truth, love and light to participate in what seems compassionate care under the guise of personal freedom. As Flannery O?Connor put it, ?In the absence of faith we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chambers.?
For Abby, her falling for one Planned Parenthood lie after another led to her witnessing the most horrific scene we have to offer as a culture when she saw -- with her own hand assisting -- a 13-week-old baby boy fight for his life and lose it right before her eyes. Blind compassion had come with a price. Thank God she recognized the horror of abortion for what it is and had the humility to get out.
Occasionally I force myself to remember Abby driving into work, swiping her security card, and walking in those doors on early Saturday mornings when abortions were done. I do this to remind myself what God did with this woman.
She could easily still be scheduling abortionists to come in from out of town or be assembling the babies who were aborted to make sure all the remains were there. She didn't just dabble in that dark world. She dove in and lived it for eight years. Unless we reflect on that, we can easily forget the power that God's love and mercy has. Abby remembers that darkness and I?m sure it fuels her passion to help the workers who are at abortion facilities today.
Abby is blessed that she was given the grace to get out of that hell on earth. She has since been given a whole new life and, for the first time in a while, the joy that comes with the freedom of forgiveness. In 2012, after years of growing in her faith in Christ and love of scripture Abby felt called to enter the Catholic Church. I, along with Heather Gardner, had the joy of sponsoring her and Doug during that beautiful Easter weekend. The joy that came from Abby leaving the abortion business is not best displayed in her testimonies against Planned Parenthood, her book, speeches, media interviews, or her new found friends.
The joy of her leaving Planned Parenthood can be seen clearly in an updated family portrait. Her four beautiful children -- three of whom were born in the last five years.
Abby's joyful openness to life cannot be denied and I'm sure baffles (or perhaps inspires) her old friends on the other side of the fence. What a beautiful sight to see her children after this long road.
When she found out she was pregnant with number four, she sent me a text, "We caught the Carneys, #4 is on the way!" Five years ago if I would have sent her a text, the police would have been questioning me the next day. But that?s changed now because she took a left out of that driveway five years ago. In doing so, she took a risk ? a risk that we would not believe her; a risk that we would not forgive or help her. Any of us in her position would have feared hearing, ?You made your bed, now sleep in it.? I did hear that from a few people about Abby.
She didn?t calculate risk because there is no risk when you follow the truth. As hard as it was, Abby is blessed to have had the grace to see the truth and conform her life to it. Not after questioning, calculating, or planning, but a true conversion that is prompt, generous, and constant.
After five years we know that Abby?s story has changed hearts and minds ? there have been a total 103 abortion workers who have left their jobs during a 40 Days for Life ? Abby was the 26th.
Abby Johnson is the director of And Then There Were None and the author of Unplanned.