Abby Johnson: Abortion Doc Told Patient “I Will Take Your Sin”

Opinion   |   Abby Johnson   |   Jul 26, 2011   |   2:40PM   |   Washington, DC

Sometimes memories creep into my mind from my days inside Planned Parenthood. When they do, I try to document them. I don’t always share them…some of them I just won’t ever be able to share with you. Some of them are things most of you wouldn’t want to know. But some of them I can’t wait to share…this is one of those memories.

Most of the time, there is no communication between an abortionist and a woman having an abortion. None. Usually, the doctor comes in without introducing himself, mask on his face, sits on a stool, performs the procedure, and walks out without saying a word to the woman on the table. We never had any complaints. I guess women don’t expect the doctor who will take the life of their child to have wonderful bedside manner.

About 3 months before I left Planned Parenthood, we had a young woman in the clinic who I had counseled before her abortion. She was very noticeably upset about having an abortion. I questioned her and encouraged her to go home and think about her decision. She was insistent…this abortion must happen today. This is what she wanted. She was just emotional, she said. She asked if I would be in the room with her to hold her hand during the procedure. I was happy to do that for people I counseled…especially those that were nervous or upset.

We got her in the room, I sat down beside her, got her blood pressure cuff on, and the sedation was given. But the sedation didn’t make much difference. She cried even harder. So hard she was shaking and her body was moving off the table. The doctor entered the room in the usual manner. He was about to sit down on his stool and realized she was very upset.

Then he did something that left me speechless. He walked over to her and stood next to my chair. He took her hand and began talking to her. “Why the tears?” he said. “I just feel really guilty about doing this,” she responded. He asked her why she felt guilty. She said, “Because I just know this is a sin.” He paused for a minute and looked at her…he was looking at her so carefully…so cautiously…I had never seen one of our doctors treat a patient like this before. He smiled gently at her and said, “No. It is not your sin. It is mine. I will take on your sin. I commit the sin. Not you.”

He patted her hand, walked back to his stool and sat down. Her crying stopped. It was bizarre. Did he really think he was committing a sin? How could he do it if he really thought that? Did he think he was taking on the sins of these women by helping them obtain abortions? What a heavy burden to bear. It was hard for me to process…it still is.

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I remember working at the clinic and thinking that if I died while I worked there, I would probably go to hell. I thought at the time that it would be worth it. I couldn’t imagine not working at Planned Parenthood. I did think that it was God’s will that I be there in the first place. I was so unsure of who God was or what His “will” actually meant…I was completely misdirected.

But this doctor was different. If he really believed what he said, he was intentionally taking on the sins of these women. Why would he do that? Why would he want to? I won’t ever know the answer to these questions, but I do know that sin doesn’t work that way. He can’t be the scapegoat for these women. They are both guilty of sin…the woman and the doctor. Both equally guilty. Both equally forgiven, if they repent, and turn to Christ. Some of you may think the abortionists hold more guilt than the mother. I would disagree. I do not believe women are “victims” to abortion. I have had two abortions. I was not a victim. I was a perpetrator. My children were victims. Women who are coerced to have abortions still have a choice. They still make that final decision. The final “choice” is up to them. They choose to take the life of their child. Their child is the victim.

If these women weren’t at the abortion clinics…if these women were able to look at the value of the life they are carrying in their womb…if they could see beyond their current discomforts and look at the whole picture, we wouldn’t have women choosing abortion. Then we would have no need to abortionists. Or, visa versa. It has become a cycle. One person needs the other. They are both equally guilty. Neither are victims. Neither are inhuman. Neither are “lost souls.” Neither deserve hate. Both are God’s children.

Wouldn’t it be easy if we could pass our sins on to someone else? I mean, we are sinful people. We don’t even like to think about just how sinful. So, instead of thinking about our sins, we usually focus on everyone else’s. Did you see what she wore to church…do you know what kind of music he listens to…did you hear what came out of her mouth…do you know what he did last weekend…and so it goes. We are so concerned about the sins of others, we fail to remember that we are also sinners.

I frequently hear people say things like, “Shame on those abortion clinic workers. How can they do that to those poor little babies?” Or, “Shame on those abortionists. There will be a special place in hell for them.” Even, “Shame on those women who have abortions. They are the most selfish women ever.” You know what?? SHAME ON US.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson often talked about the strategy that was used when they founded NARAL. Dr. Nathanson said they just needed the Christian churches to stay silent on the issue of abortion. The abortion groups just needed the churches to silently buy in, in a sense, to legalized abortion. That’s exactly what happened. We look at statistics and see that over 70% of women who choose abortion are Christians…and please don’t give me the “well, they say they are Christians” attitude. No.

These are women who go to church…who sit in Bible studies…who attend Mass…who lead praise and worship groups…daughters of pastors…wives of deacons…you name it, they are having abortions. Why would these women have abortions? Don’t they know it is wrong? Sure they do. Why do we all sin? Why do you sin? We justify it. We rationalize it. We think we just HAVE to. We make sense of it. And are we talking about it? Nope, not really. I go around the world talking to pro-lifers and asking them about abortion and the Church. Everyone has a pretty similar response…the church isn’t talking about it. Sure, I will find a church every once in a while where the clergy bring it up in church, or they actually have a ministry for single moms…I am always shocked and elated! I am shocked because it is SO uncommon.

Why don’t we want to talk about abortion? We have groups for everything in churches! Grief, beginning yoga, quit drinking, quilting, orchestra, quit smoking, low impact aerobics, how to deal with a problem kid, groups for homeschooling parents, divorce, how to manage your money, detailed studies on every single book of the Bible, five hundred Beth Moore studies, knitting for beginners, weight loss…I’m telling you…you want it, you can find it at your local church. Well, unless you are in a crisis pregnancy or are suffering from a previous abortion. Oh, no ma’am. We don’t talk about THAT in church!!! But if you would like to come meditate with us in yoga, we would love to have you on Tuesdays at 9am. One in three women have abortions in this country, over 70% are Christian, but we won’t talk about it. Yeah, shame on us.

What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for permission from God? Well, we have it. We have it in the Scriptures. Check. Are we waiting for permission from our clergy? I hate to tell you this, but while you wait, babies are dying. We don’t need permission from the clergy to make things happen at our churches. Women in your church right NOW are suffering and hurting.Families in your church are suffering right NOW from the devastating effects of abortion. But we wait?? For what?

You can make something happen. Start a small group at your house and advertise it to the women in your church. Connect with your local pregnancy center and put a table with all of their brochures and information at the back of your church. Ask to put a small ad about your local pregnancy center in the bulletin every week. Start bringing it up to your friends at church. Hold a screening of a pro-life movie like Bella or Blood Money at your church. Start a 40 Days for Life and get the people in your church involved. Start making some noise!! Get uncomfortable! Make other people uncomfortable!!

The people who are uncomfortable are the ones who need to hear it the most. Don’t wait for someone else’s permission to do the right thing!! It is always the right time to stand up for life! Now is the time! Someone in your church is waiting for you to step out of your box and shake things up. You won’t be alone. We are never alone when we stand up for Christ and follow His teachings. These moms and babies deserve to hear our voices…and we should be loud. In the end, we will not be able to pass our sins and apathy off on someone else. We will be accountable. We will say, no, these are not their sins…they are mine. There is no scapegoat.