Nighttime Scares: Working at the Abortion Clinic After Dark

Opinion   |   Abby Johnson   |   Aug 23, 2011   |   12:29PM   |   Washington, DC

When I was at Planned Parenthood, I used to work a lot…I mean, a lot.  Sometimes, I would work as many as 80 hours in one week.  In order to do that, I would have to go in at night.  Lots of buildings are eerie at night…none are creepier than an abortion clinic.

I remember going into the clinic by myself for the first time in the morning.  I used to go in with a group of employees.  But I had gotten there before anyone else, so I went ahead and decided to make my way in.  One of the guys that worked there had there had made a joke about being in the clinic alone.  He said that when you there alone, you could hear babies crying.  I always thought that was a weird joke…but we made lots of weird jokes there.  I knew it certainly wasn’t true.  Even still, this first day I went in alone, I was a little nervous about it.

I walked in and heard the heavy door slam behind me.  It echoed as it closed.  The clinic had high ceilings and every noise echoed like you were in a cave.  It was silent…no creaks, no water dripping, nothing…totally silent.  So silent in fact, I could almost hear something…and I’m telling you, it almost sounded like babies crying.  I know that sounds crazy and I totally disregarded it at the time.  I ran up to the front of the clinic, away from the freezer where the babies were kept until the medical waste came to pick them up.  I didn’t want to be next to that freezer.  Did I really hear that?  Surely it was just my imagination.

After several more trips alone to the clinic, I stopped hearing the sound…the crying.  I wasn’t scared to go there anymore.  I would go to the clinic by myself all the time.  I would be there until late at night.  All alone.  Not scared. No longer running to the front, trying to get away from the freezer.

Maybe there weren’t really babies crying in the clinic when I first started going to the clinic alone.  But I heard something.  I think it was my conscience.  The longer I was there, the quieter my conscience became.  I silenced my brain.  I silenced what I knew was right.

This is sin, right?  That is immorality.  We know right from wrong.  We have to justify abortion to make it right.  We have to justify all sin to make it right.  But we do it…because sin is easy…it is comfortable…it is, many times, fun.

I wish I would have listened to that noise in my head…to the crying.  I wish I would have listened to a lot of things.  But, I can’t change that.  We can’t change the past.  We can only move ahead.

I worked in that clinic night after night.  The crying was gone.  The echo became familiar.  I enjoyed the silence.  Sin had taken over.

But even after all those years, there was still some discomfort…except for twice a year during 40 Days for Life.  Two times a year I wasn’t alone.  There was a presence there.  Not in the building with me, but outside.  I was working and they were praying.  And I’m sure that they were praying for me.  Shouldn’t that have made me frustrated?  Shouldn’t I have been aggravated they were there?  Wouldn’t they just go home?  Maybe I should have been, but I wasn’t.  A part of me was glad they were there.  I guess I was glad to have the company.  Their presence brought on a sense of peace for me.  Praying brings peace…even in the midst of evil.

40 Days for Life is coming again in September.  You can bring comfort to clinic workers.  You may never hear that from their mouths.  But at night, when they are alone in that building, they will be glad to look out and see you standing there in prayer…even if they never say it.  I can tell you that now, since being on the other side, I have more interaction with clinic workers at night…when they are alone.  When there are no eyes on them, no one else looking out the clinic windows, no supervisors around, just me and them.  That is when they talk.  That is when the wall comes down.  That is when relationships develop.

Don’t be afraid of the night.  Don’t be afraid to pray outside of an abortion clinic after hours.  People might say it is silly…after all, no abortions happen when the building is closed.  But amazing things can happen after hours.  The workers still come and go.  Your presence can be the reason that one day those workers walk out of those doors and stand with you on the other side.

For more information about getting involved in a 40 Days for Life campaign near you, please visit  Even if you are afraid or uncomfortable…do it anyway.