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“When the door of the clinic is closed behind a pregnant woman, the staff will do their best to make sure she doesn’t leave until her child is gone. Our job was not to show women the full range of available options, but to sell abortion. Fear is the main tool for manipulating women who are unsure of their decisions” – says Abby Johnson, an American pro-life activist, who used to work in an abortion clinic.

PIOTR WŁOCZYK: Who are the people that choose to work in abortion clinics?

Some people in the pro-life movement may imagine that these people have horns, tails, and pitchforks. Meanwhile, most of them are perfectly normal people like you or me, not bloodthirsty extremists. They are often mothers and fathers. At some point, however, they make a decision that drives them to work in clinics. Most of them – it is estimated that 70% – have had abortions. For some, this work confirms that their choice was right.

How can the average person simply accept such duties as something common, insignificant? In abortion clinics, one of these responsibilities is, for example, putting together the torn remains of a baby to make sure that the uterus is thoroughly cleaned. Besides the person who has to perform this task, there are also employees who can see these things happening…

Many things can be suppressed from the mind for the right amount of money. Remember that these are very well-paid jobs. Apart from money, there is one more thing – fear. If you enter this world once, the disturbing question may then arise: “who will give me a job after seeing that I’ve worked in an abortion clinic?” People are also afraid of bad references.

That was the case with you: in 2008, you were recognized by Planned Parenthood (PP) – the largest network of abortion clinics in the USA – as employee of the year…

…and a year later, when I quit this job, the same people claimed in the media that I was a terrible worker and that was the only reason I left there. There is also a legal whip over the employees of abortion clinics. They know that in case of resistance, PP will not hesitate to take them to court. This is what happened to me.

The abortion industry is alive because of fear. They use fear to convince many women that abortion is the only option, and by fear they force employees to stay in the company and not take its secrets out into the open world.

In your case, the turning point came in 2009, when you witnessed an abortion performed with the use of ultrasound equipment. Since then, you have been helping people who are thinking of quitting work an abortion clinic. What do such breakthrough moments usually look like for others?

A horrible situation can change everything. For example, a child is born alive and slowly dies in front of you … Or you witness – as in my case – an abortion performed with the use of ultrasound, and you can see how a child is trying to escape from death. I saw hell then. There are also times when something terrible happens to a woman. Most often it is a hemorrhage. Such situations can shake people’s belief that “having the right to choose” is a good thing.

Former abortion clinic workers come to us in waves. There are months when no one comes forward, and then suddenly ten people leave the abortion industry and need support. Because it’s not like quitting a job at a restaurant. Getting out often requires spiritual, psychological, and material support. The abortion industry terrorizes them, threatening them with lawsuits and unemployment, threatening to blacklist them in the medical community. They do their best to destroy the credibility of the people who leave.

We have experienced specialists who help overcome the traumatic experiences of working in the clinic. We have a special quiet place where these women can cut themselves off and support each other in this hard time.

Opponents of pro-lifers get upset when they hear the terms “abortion industry” or “abortion lobby”. After all, abortion clinics are to be places where women receive help …

Defenders of legal abortion would like to see it that way, but there is nothing charitable about the operation of abortion clinics. It’s all about money there. It’s a business, an ordinary transaction. Money in exchange for killing a human being.

For several years, you ran an abortion clinic in Texas. What was the backdrop of doing business like this?

Meetings with the management concerned mainly compliance with the imposed abortion quotas. Each clinic must perform the prescribed number of abortions each month. If you fail to achieve your goals, you have to fire those who cannot sell the “product”.

A woman comes to the clinic who is unsure, she feels lost. Do the clinic staff leave at least a minimum of space for reflection in such cases? After all, women’s rights are probably about making fully informed decisions.

Please be serious. When the door of the clinic is closed behind a pregnant woman, the staff will do their best to make sure she doesn’t leave until her child is gone. Our job was not to show women the full range of available options, but to sell abortion. Fear is the main tool for manipulating women who are unsure of their decisions. Abortion is supposed to be the best way to deal with this “problem”. How is the quota target achieved? We explained to one woman, for example, that she could not become a mother at that moment and that she should have an abortion. But there is nothing wrong with that, because such decisions are made by many women. Fortunately, she has all these caring people around her, so she is lucky in all her misfortune and everything will surely work out …

On the Internet, you can find videos filmed with a hidden camera by Live Action, which explores the backstage of the abortion industry. In one of the recordings, a PP employee convinces an actress who claims to be a pregnant woman that she will not be able to even afford diapers. This line of argumentation is the creative invention of this particular woman?

No. We were taught this during our training. In addition to highlighting the cost of diapers and hygiene products, there were other questions as well. Who will look after the baby while you are at work? What if you get sick while looking after a small child? All of this is based on the fear of a woman who finds herself in a difficult situation.

In 2012, you joined the Catholic Church. Previously, you were a follower of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It is probably the most liberal Christian community in the USA, which has implemented virtually all of the agenda points of the LGBT community and accepts even the most extreme ideas of feminists. Is it possible to be pro-life within this community?

No, it’s completely impossible. It’s like being a democrat and a pro-life (laughs). My husband and I were very close to our church. Good relations lasted for many years. Until … I quit my job at the clinic, and I was interviewed by one of the national news stations. The following Sunday, as always, I went with my family to our church. All the people with whom I prayed so many times suddenly treated me like I didn’t exist. A week later, the pastor called us over and told us that we were no longer welcome in the church …

It looks a bit as if you have broken the dogmas of faith.

Unfortunately, it is treated as such. Belief in the “right to choose” is built into the DNA of this community. In the Episcopal Church, an important role is played by a “priestess” who is also the head of the National Abortion Federation [This is a reference to Katherine Hancock Ragsdale who is known for saying: “People who perform abortions are my personal heroes and saints of our time” ed.]. Again, a very influential figure in the Episcopal Church heads the abortion organization. It must clearly affect the entire community.

In the debate about the legality of abortion, a common argument is the allegedly small percentage of women who regret abortion. The latest study published in the journal “Social Science & Medicine” shows that 95 % women do not regret having an abortion…

Proponents of the “right to choose” argue that most women feel relieved after having an abortion. And I think they are right. This is how I felt – I was faced with the biggest problem in my life, I paid the clinic $500 to get rid of this problem and driving home I felt as if someone had lifted a heavy burden from my shoulders. The problem is that the trauma takes years to surface. Meanwhile, all these polls are carried out up to five years after the abortion. So their results does not present an accurate picture of the situation in the long run. The real trauma and remorse usually appear much later, around 15 years after the abortion.

A side effect of exercising the “right to choose” is often infertility. However, it did not affect you – you have 8 children. What made you decide to have such a big family?

I don’t know (laughs). When I left the abortion world, I underwent a profound change in every way. It resulted in entering the Catholic community. My husband and I made a decision to let God plan our family. One of our children is adopted. Once I became a Catholic – we only had two children at the time – while praying for my family, I thought about the number “8” all the time. I had the feeling that God was telling me that I would have so many children … I was laughing at it, thinking, “No, I don’t think I will have so many!” And yet with each subsequent child I felt that it was still not enough (laughs). The number eight kept coming back to me. I asked myself, will the pregnancies finally end? Will I become a mother of twenty children?

And today? Do you feel satisfied?

Yes, today I feel that my family is full. God poured peace into my heart. Although of course – as befits a Catholic – I never close myself to the concept of life.

Abby Johnson (born 1980) is an American pro-life activist. Until 2009, she headed the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas. The movie “Unplanned” was based on her life story.

This interview was first published in “Do Rzeczy” weekly magazine.