Abby Johnson: Father Pavone Saves Babies, Helped Heal Me

Opinion   |   Abby Johnson   |   Sep 15, 2011   |   12:04PM   |   Washington, DC

Fr. Frank Pavone has been a staple in my house for many years…even during my Planned Parenthood years. Every week I would record and watch “Defending Life.”  I enjoyed watching him, even if I disagreed.  I loved how outspoken he was and how he didn’t seem to live in the gray…you know, everything seemed black and white for him…right and wrong was clear.

I remember watching him during the Terri Schiavo tragedy.  I was drawn to his gentle spirit.  I had seen two sides to him…or was it? One side was so unabashedly, unapologetically and passionately against abortion.  The other was a man who had an incredibly compassionate heart and a kind spirit…this was the man who was helping a family grieve the loss of their daughter.  But now, I see they are the same.  Fr. Frank is for life…all life.  His compassion for life fuels his passion.

A few years later, I looked out my office window and couldn’t believe it.  Was that really Fr. Frank Pavone standing and praying outside MY abortion clinic??  I looked harder, but couldn’t get a clear view because of our iron fence.  I ran to the front of the building so I could look at the security camera.  I zoomed in and there he was…the priest I had been watching for many years.  He had been streaming into my home week after week, all while I was working at an abortion clinic.  I had two employees who were Catholic.  They recognized him as well.  I had an unshakable desire to sprint outside and introduce myself.  After all, I felt like I knew him.  I felt a connection to him, as strange as that may sound.

I asked my co-workers if they thought it would be inappropriate to go outside to meet him.  They gave me a bewildered look and said, “NO! You run an abortion clinic! He doesn’t want to meet you!”  I figured they were right.  I went back to my office and watched him pray outside of my clinic.  When he left, I felt like I had missed an opportunity that I would always regret.

Even though I didn’t get to meet him that day, our meeting came later…after I had resigned from Planned Parenthood.  I remember meeting him for the first time and immediately feeling a sense of peace.  He was not a rock star, he was a healer.  He was not a celebrity, he was a servant.  He wanted to help me heal…I needed it.

Fr. Frank is the reason I am where I am today…emotionally and spiritually.  He has given me guidance and direction that I couldn’t find from anyone else.  I am not a particularly emotional person.  The first time I heard Fr. Frank speak at an event about clinic workers, I wept.  How could he see inside my heart?  How did he know my thoughts?  Because this is his life. He isn’t just in this for the children; he is in this for people like me, too…the wounded, the broken, the angry, the scarred.

I look at how abortion has crept into our Christian culture and see thousands of clergy who are scared to defend our unborn children.  And then I see Fr. Frank.  He is a man who is always ready to speak the truth.  A man who is always ready to stand up for what is right.  He is a man of courage.  I am proud to stand by him during this time of trial.

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17