By Abby Johnson
I never had the honor of talking to Dr. Bernard Nathanson. But someone told me once that he asked Dr. Nathanson about his remorse after performing thousands of abortions. Many of us that have once been in the abortion industry are frequently criticized for our public “lack of remorse.” Dr. Nathanson explained to this man that if he actually allowed himself to feel the depth of his remorse, he wouldn’t be able to live with the pain. I would say that is pretty accurate for most of us who have once lived and walked in those hallways of evil. I’m not sure my heart would take the pain if I really allowed myself to feel what I had done.
Have you ever watched one of those crime shows where they interview a prisoner who murdered someone? I recently saw one about a man who had killed a young woman. He had since become a Christian while in prison and the remorse for the life he had taken was so evident. He could hardly even talk about her. It was difficult for him to maintain his composure. Well, imagine that type of remorse times thousands and thousands. We were serial killers of the worst kind—we killed children.
Then one day, after years of living in foolishness and evil, we turn it around. We swallow our pride and admit we were wrong. We lose our friends, we are called names, we start over—but we know it is worth it. It is not easy, but it is right. We repent from our sin and we feel a sense of peace and joy that has never been in our heart before—but there is brokenness, too—and a stinging feeling of remorse that won’t leave. I remember wondering if the brokenness and remorse would ever lessen. Would it ever leave? It doesn’t. It is a constant reminder of who you were and what you have done. But now, I am thankful for the reminder—it keeps me focused, passionate, and most of all, praying.
For some of us, we go on to have normal 9-5 jobs and live our lives in the privacy of family and friends. Some of us live our lives in the public. I know I am called to work full time in the fight. I didn’t know that at first, but God revealed that to me in a pretty big way—thanks to Planned Parenthood’s media release. For those of us whose conversions are public, many look at us as heroes. But we are not—I am not. How could we be? We look around us and see people who have been fighting in this movement for years; they are heroes. We are criminals. We deserve punishment, not awards. We deserve to be cast out, not accepted. We don’t deserve forgiveness, but we seem to get it anyway.
Every day of my life I think about the women I took from. I took away their motherhood, I devalued them, I broke their confidence, I betrayed them. How I wish I could look into every one of their faces and tell them how sorry I am. If I could restore some of what I took from them, I would give my life to make it happen. I wish I could be there to wipe their tears when they mourn for their lost child. To know that you committed a terrible wrong that you can’t make right is one of the most desperate feelings in the world. And as desperate as I feel, I can’t make those wishes come true. But I do my best everyday to make it up to those women and their children. I failed them once, but I won’t do it again. I know they haven’t forgotten their children, and I haven’t either.
For the lives I have taken, ‘I’m sorry’ just seems hollow to even say. How do you apologize for killing thousands of children and wounding thousands of families? I’m not sure I have an answer. But I am sorry. I am sorry to the women I coerced into abortion. I am sorry to every woman who has ever had an abortion; you may never hear those words from the person who performed your abortion, but I want you to hear it from me on behalf of that doctor or clinic worker. I am sorry they betrayed you. I am sorry they broke your spirit and your trust. I am sorry they hurt you. I am sorry they didn’t have the courage to stand up for you and what you really deserved—a chance to be a mother to your child. We abused and disrespected you in the worst possible way. I am sorry. So many people probably disappointed you—your friends, your family, your church community, your coworkers, maybe others. I apologize on behalf of them, as well. I am guilty of selling abortion to my family, friends, coworkers, and even people I worship with. We should have stood up for you and your child. I am so sorry we let you down in the worst possible way. You deserved better than what we gave you.
The extent of my remorse, sorrow and grief runs very deep. I could never even begin to share it all with you on a blog. I’m not even sure I am aware of how deep it runs. But it is there—reminding me of the life I once had and how hard I must now work.
I am only able to handle the pain of my past with the help of Christ. I couldn’t do any of this without His grace and His steady hand guiding me every day. He has never given me more than I can bear. I have never felt overwhelmed. I see His love and compassion for me every day. It is the most amazing feeling of peace and wholeness. I don’t have to wonder if He’s with me—I know He is guiding my every step.
I am a BIG sinner. I am far from a perfect pro-lifer. I would say I am a mediocre Christian. I am definitely not the best wife and no one has nominated me for “Mother of the Year.” I always fail at having a perfect day, but I keep trying. I guess I want you to know that I am working so hard to make things right. I can’t take away the pain I have caused. But I can promise to dedicate my life and my heart to this movement. I won’t ever give up on these children. My heart is here and it is healing.
Abby Johnson’s life was forever changed on October 6, 2009. That was the day that she resigned from the largest abortion corporation in the nation—Planned Parenthood. Abby worked and volunteered for Planned Parenthood for eight years. For the last year of her employment, Abby had begun to question her work and the motivations of the company she had dedicated herself to. In September 2009, Abby was asked to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion procedure. On the ultrasound screen she saw a 13-week-baby in the womb fight for his life—only to lose the battle in the end. Abby then turned to a local pro-life resource group, The Brazos Valley Coalition for Life, and swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb, instead of destroying it. Since her departure from Planned Parenthood, Abby has been traveling the country sharing her story and motivating others to continue the pro-life fight.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at http://www.abbyjohnson.org/2011/05/my-beating-heart/.