Searching for Signs

Searching for Signs

by Doug Magill

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.  Psalm 18


On the eve of the 66th anniversary of the death of Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Abby Johnson tearfully spoke of life, and reminded us that most women enter abortion clinics looking for a reason not to abort their babies.

Abby is the former director of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Bryan, Texas.  She spoke at the Alternaterm annual dinner last evening, describing her journey back from ardent pro-abortionist to her Christian, prolife roots.

As she describes in her book, Unplanned, Abby was like many women of her generation who felt drawn to a life of service, helping to “prevent pregnancies, make abortion rare, and make a difference in the lives of women who need help.”  She had been especially stirred by the entreaties of the Planned Parenthood staff who described a world of darkness where those who opposed abortion also wanted to deny women birth control, medical services, and the education needed to make good decisions about their lives.  She was moved to protect those in need.

Initially, she allowed herself to fall under the spell of carefully chosen words that disguised the true meaning of what she was involved in.  Carrying a child was described as being “in a condition of pregnancy.”  An abortion wasn’t killing a fetus, it was “removing an unplanned pregnancy.”  The contents of a woman’s uterus after an abortion were examined for the POC, or “product of conception.”  And, opponents of abortion, no matter how benign, were all to be described as extremists, “who would do and say anything to take away the rights of women and harass our clients.”

Abby’s journey back was a process, and many events influenced her awakening: the agony of some of the patients that she worked with, the heartfelt tears of Sister Marie Bernadette outside of the clinic on abortion days, her own experience of giving birth after having two abortions herself.

As a clinic director she was tasked with the financial management of the operation.  She soon began to realize that she was involved in a business, not a cause.  The construction of a clinic in Houston which would begin to handle late-term abortions because they brought in more revenue.  The loss of Title XX funds which caused a decrease in the family planning functions at her clinic and the increase in abortions for revenue reasons.  The mandate to increase the number of abortions to increase revenue.  The increase of days when abortions were performed from once per week to daily.  The admonition that even though Planned Parenthood was a tax-exempt organization, its non-profit existence reflected “a tax status, not a business situation.”  Thus, the directive to increase the revenue per patient.

She finally faced the realization that her desire to help prevent pregnancies and help those in need was turning into a gruesome enterprise designed to make money off of those most in need.  Abby’s conversion was complete when she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion.  Horrified and appalled at the reaction of the fetus to the probe of the doctor, she recognized that not only could a fetus feel, but it was truly a nascent human being.

Leaving Planned Parenthood almost immediately, Johnson was faced with a barrage of misinformation from her former employer, and began a new career with Coalition for Life.  Since then she has been on most major news shows and has had countless articles written about her conversion.

Speaking to a hushed crowd at the Alternaterm dinner she gave powerful force to the strength of her insights and convictions.  It is sad to realize, though,  that a national figure who has gained tremendous understanding of the national abortion debate was ignored by those tasked to help keep us informed.  No one from the Cleveland media attended, or saw fit to report on her talk.

Indeed, the whole subject of the abortion business in Northeast Ohio is a hidden, and unmentioned issue.  In 2009, 10,317 abortions were performed in Cuyahoga County.  The vast majority of those were by curettage or evacuation – literally scraping or sucking a fetus out of the womb.  We know through multiple studies that many women now use abortion as a post-facto means of birth control that is, by the way, devastating the black community.  And, as Johnson informed us, studies and her personal experiences show that most women are traumatized emotionally by having an abortion, which effects can last a lifetime.

Though we will enthusiastically endorse and discuss the development of business in Northeast Ohio, this is one business that diminishes us all, and should be discouraged.  There are many options that are available, and Alternaterm can help with them.

We all should help.  As Abby said, many women are looking for a sign, and she strongly admonished us that “You are the sign that these women are searching for.”

Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer, and voice-over talent in Solon, Ohio.  He can be reached at


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