Ever heard of Abby Johnson?
Abby Johnson worked for eight years for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. She started out as an escort, helping women into the clinic, walking them past protestors—sometimes encountering death threats. She eventually became a director of the clinic and in 2008 was named “Employee of the Year.” But on a September morning in 2009, she was asked to do something she had never done before: assist with an abortion, by watching the ultrasound. What she saw wasn’t the routine procedure she expected. What she saw was a child struggling for its life. A few weeks later, she quit her job and became a pro-life activist. She went on to write a book about her decision and two years ago she and her husband joined the Catholic Church. She now runs a group called “And Then There Were None,” which helps abortion workers transition out of that industry.
Two weeks ago, to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Abby Johnson gave an interview to a Catholic paper. She said something that has haunted me ever since. It’s something we don’t talk about much in the church. But we should. And it’s something that has particular resonance, I think, given this week’s scripture readings.
In the interview, she said that the church needs to take a bigger role in talking about abortion. A priest asked her, skeptically: “How often do you really expect priests to talk about this?”
She replied: “I don’t know, Father, but when I worked at Planned Parenthood, it was pretty common for women to be lying on the abortion table while holding a rosary. You tell me how often we need to be talking about this.”
Yes, we need to be talking about this.
Yes, we need to be talking about working and praying to end something that has become shockingly commonplace in our city and our culture. Yes, we need to be talking about creating and encouraging a culture of life. Yes.
But we also need to be talking about something that is too often lost in these discussions.
After one life has ended, we need to talk about the life that remains, and that must carry on.
We need to talk about those mothers without children.
The same week the Abby Johnson interview appeared, a woman by the name of Maura Byrne, a pro-life speaker and activist, wrote about her own experience of abortion on her blog. She wentto the heart of the issue: “I had an abortion,” she wrote. “How does God see me?”
I imagine it’s a question on the minds of many women, maybe some who are in this church this morning. Maura’s answer to that question was so simple—but to many of us, so elusive. “God just loves,” she wrote. “He could never and would never take away that love.”
It sounds impossible. But it’s true.
It is true. I believe it firmly. I also believe you should read the rest of the good Deacon's homily.
It's redemptive, It's uplifting, it's good and much needed, particularly for the forlorn, those needing hope and forgiveness.