Ten years ago, I would have been applauding actress Michelle Williams’ speech at the Golden Globes. As she collected her best actress award she suggested that she would not have been able to have the life she has now without abortion: “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have children, and with whom".
Back then I would have been cheering for her. But this is now. Ten years after I left my position as the clinic director at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas where I worked for eight years. I left after witnessing the abortion of a 13-week-old fetus. I held the probe over the mother’s abdomen and watched in horror on the ultrasound screen as the fetus was torn apart by the abortion instrument.
This week, I listen to Michelle Williams’ words and think how vapid, how shallow they feel. It is because of abortion that she is able to stand before that crowd and proclaim that she traded a child, a “choice”, for a small, golden statue that will sit on a shelf with her other statues and ultimately mean nothing in the end.
And as her words were ringing hollow in my ears, they were heavy in my heart. I had traded much for something similar. It wasn’t a golden statue, but a wooden plaque that I had once held so dear. An award.
In 2008, I was given the Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year Award. I met and exceeded my goals as clinic director. I was bringing in a lot of money for Planned Parenthood by selling abortion. And they saw that and awarded me for my work.
And I did work hard for it. And yet I sacrificed so much to receive it: a healthy marriage, two children who I chose to kill by abortion, the innate call to motherhood, my morality, my femininity, my faith. I too traded and compromised my very life, and the lives of two of my children, for a prestigious award.
Yet here I stand today, a mother to eight living children, an educated woman on the verge of receiving her doctorate, married to an amazing man, strong, healed, confident, and uncompromisingly pro-life. And I did it without abortion.
I realise now how much of what I had believed for so many years was a lie, but it felt profound at the time. It was - and still is in many ways - a 'man’s world', and I was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to work like a man. If it meant trading in motherhood for a 60-hour work week, then so be it. If it meant stifling who God had intended me to be as a woman, then it would be done. If it meant giving away my femininity in order to subscribe to secular feminism, a worldview that taught me to hate men and to see them as a thorn in the progression of women’s 'equality', then I was ready to make that trade. It really did seem so sacrificial. I was sacrificing for the 'greater good of women'.
But what did the “greater good of women” even look like? I had no idea really. But since we were taught to sacrifice everything, it had to look something like childless women, self serving women, women who saw men as an adversary.
While I was able to regain some of what I traded, two things would forever be lost: my two aborted children. Was this award from Planned Parenthood worth their lives? No, absolutely not. But it would take a lot of time for me to realise the error of my negotiation. And I’m so thankful I did because it led me on a path towards redemption, love, and mercy. We can all choose that path, even though we have made past mistakes.
I pray for Michelle Williams. I pray that she one day re-negotiates her trades. And I pray that when she comes to grips with the consequences of her decisions, if that day comes, that she finds God in her brokenness and that he makes her whole again.
Abby Johnson is founder and director of And Then There Were None and ProLove Ministries. She was the subject of the film Unplanned and author of the book by the same name
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