Game changer: 40 Days for Life
Former abortion worker Abby Johnson writes that love and prayer will change hearts . . .
The 40 Days for Life campaign has garnered massive attention since it went nationwide in 2007. It is held each spring and fall in front of the most hopeless places our world has ever known — abortion mills that profit from the systematic killing of human beings at their most vulnerable stage of life.
This international pro-life campaign is rooted in peaceful and prayerful activism. It has united over 500,000 pro-life activists, spared the lives of 5,000 babies, shut down 21 abortion clinics, and led to the conversion of 61 abortion clinic workers. I am one of them. I was clinic director of a Planned Parenthood abortion-performing facility in Bryan, Texas, where 40 Days for Life was founded.
I had worked with Planned Parenthood for eight years and been the director for two of them when I felt God stir my heart. On an ultrasound, I witnessed a 13-week-old baby fight for and eventually lose his life to a surgical abortion in September 2009. I realized then that I had deceived and hurt countless women and played a pivotal role in ending the lives of their unborn children. Since I began working for Planned Parenthood, there had always been pro-life activists standing outside the clinic, greeting me in the mornings and waving goodbye to me when I left. They had always said they’d be there for me if I ever needed anything from them. More than ever, I needed something from them.
The staff at the Coalition for Life welcomed me with open arms when my pro-choice church no longer would. I had a safe haven, people I could trust to help me. Adjustment to a new life was a terrible struggle, but they stayed by my side along the way. Finally, I began telling my story. I wanted the world to know the horrible injustice that is being perpetrated inside clinics across the country right under our noses.
If it had not been for the peaceful and loving volunteers that stood outside of my clinic during 40 Days for Life, there is a good chance I’d still be working in the abortion industry. If I had been ridiculed and reprimanded by pro-lifers who stood outside the clinic, I would have had no one to turn to when I saw a baby violently lose his life in the name of “choice.” Because of the compassionate, heartfelt outreach from 40 Days for Life prayer warriors, I was able to get out of the abortion industry and tell my story to anyone who would listen.
This is why it’s so important that anyone who calls themselves pro-life engage in 40 Days for Life in all aspects — fasting, prayer and clinic outreach. We are out there to save the lives of the unborn and help their mothers in desperate need of love and understanding. But we’re also out there to love those who persecute us, including those who work in the abortion clinics. I am a living testimony that the persistent, loving prayers of those who stand in front of abortion facilities have an impact.
The face of the pro-life movement is changing, and it’s changing fast. It’s no longer about swarms of angry anti-abortion protesters who stand in front of abortion clinics, yelling at and demeaning women. It has become a movement of peace and understanding, one of offering hope to women in a crisis. As Christians, we need to realize that this is the one and only way to end the atrocity of abortion. We cannot end violence with hate and anger. We need to bring the light of Christ to the darkest of places and reach out to those who are most in need of understanding.
It isn’t comfortable standing outside an abortion clinic. However, we are not called to be comfortable with our convictions — we are called to be faithful to them. One person praying for just one hour in front of one abortion clinic could change the hearts and minds of everyone that sees them. Imagine if all Christians gave just one hour during a 40 Days for Life campaign to go out and pray in front of these abortion clinics. What an incredible difference we would make! It is our duty as followers of Christ to do as He did, to put the needs of others before ourselves and to be there for our brothers and sisters who go into those clinics — and those who work in them as well.
Abby Johnson is the chief research strategist for Live Action Films and senior policy advisor for Americans United for Life. A former Planned Parenthood clinic director, she described her conversion in her best-selling book “unPlanned.” She entered the Catholic Church in December 2011.