“We Love Them Out”: 5 Good Minutes With Meagan and Laura of And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None was founded by Abby Johnson in 2012, and in five years, hundreds of abortion-facility workers have come through ATTWN’s assistance program. All have left the abortion industry, with help from the only organization dedicated to offering spiritual and material support for such a decision.

How?

“We love them out.” That’s from Laura Ricketts of ATTWN, who with Meagan Weber represented the group at an exhibit table at the 2017 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. They love their work, and it shows. They kindly and quickly agreed to an impromptu interview with me, which I found more constructive than anything happening on the main stage.

How do you get someone who’s doing abortion work to approach you?

Laura: The short answer is love. We love them out. The longer answer is we have several initiatives that we follow through on, including sending handwritten cards into the abortion clinics to reach out to the workers.  We do a mailing of postcards that have our information inviting them to look us up, letting them know that they can quit, we can help. Sometimes we send flowers to the clinic. If there’s a situation that happens in a community, something specific surrounding that clinic, whether it’s something horrible that might have happened with a patient, or whether there are some unkind – well-meaning, but unkind – pro-life people on the sidewalk, we will send an apology into that clinic and say “I’m sorry.”

How many people have been assisted by ATTWN?

Meagan: To date since we were founded in 2012, we’ve received over 380 workers into our assistance program. That includes seven full-time abortion-providing doctors. We’ve transitioned them all out of the industry into life-affirming work and hope & healing in Christ.

What do well-meaning people do that makes your job harder?

Meagan: Graphic imagery. Inflammatory language such as abortion mill, abortuary, murderers – I mean, yes, abortion is an act that is complicit with murder. But who comes to Jesus Christ because you’re saying “you’re a dirty rotten sinner”? Same concept. We want to affirm their value as a human being, uniquely and distinctly created by God first and foremost. I’d also say trespassing on property [doesn’t help]. We have to flip that and say if we had a bunch of Planned Parenthood employees come into our pregnancy centers and go to the waiting room, [they’d be] violating the privacy of women who are seeking our services. And then they would be telling them “they’re lying to you, They’re not going to give you truthful information about your pregnancy and your options, and it’s your right to have an abortion…” We would never tolerate that happening. So we need to make sure we’re not doing that to them. If we’re truly concerned for the woman who goes into the clinic, who did not receive our information on the sidewalk, we should wait for her, be there for her on the way out.

Laura: Creating an environment around the clinic that feels unsafe or hostile is going to drive the women into the clinic for their abortions faster. And it’s also going to make the workers inside the clinic very distrustful of people who do call themselves pro-life who are scaring them a little bit.

Learn more about And Then There Were None at prolove.com and abortionworker.com and on Facebook. Learn more about Laura’s own work as a birth and bereavement doula at filumenabirth.com, and about Meagan at her Facebook page.


“Their story is not ours to share.”

The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)
The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)

Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None leads a team that has assisted hundreds of people who have chosen to leave the abortion industry. In The Walls Are Talking, Abby and co-worker Kristin Detrow related some of their stories.

Today, Abby took to Facebook to say why she hasn’t shared even more stories. Her answer begins and ends with the same assertion: those stories belong to the people who have lived them, and the stories are theirs to share, not hers.

“We truly value the courageous men and women who step forward and make this decision. We respect them. We value their privacy. And we allow them to take time to heal.”

The Facebook post is worth reading in full. Think in particular of the legal threats that can keep a worker from speaking out. “Ever since I left PP, they make sure that all of their workers sign several confidentiality statements. If they are in breech [sic] of that contract, then they will be sued.”

My one and only quibble with The Walls are Talking was the careful guarding of each former worker’s identity. Co-writer Detrow later said to me in an email, “I can assure you that I interviewed each and every one and have personally met many of them….I pray that the anonymity is not a stumbling block for readers.” Abby Johnson’s post today reminds me why anonymity isn’t just appropriate but essential, until such time as a worker chooses to speak out.

“Love wins, over and over.”

Abby Johnson Facebook May 2016

If you’re a Facebook regular, I recommend adding something to your feed if it’s not there already. Go “like” AbbyJohnson: ProWoman, ProChild, ProLife. As you probably know, Abby works with people who choose to leave the abortion industry and seek help making the transition to what is pretty much a new life.

This morning’s post struck me, particularly how it ended. Abby describes a former abortion worker’s first public speaking event since her departure from her former employer. Abby wrote,

“I have to tell you that it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. I know this may not be something you think about, but leaving the abortion industry is very lonely. When you work in the industry, all of your friends works [sic] in the industry, too. So when you leave, you leave all of your friends behind…the only support system you have. You feel very isolated.”

Read the Facebook post in full. It can be tough to envision the kind of outcome Abby describes when I encounter an abortion provider or other worker who promotes abortion – but just such an outcome is possible, even in a state like ours with an abortion-friendly culture. “Love wins, over and over.”

Four takeaways from Mass. Citizens for Life Convention ’16

The scene was Assumption College in Worcester for Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s 2016 convention on April 2. A packed program for seven hours meant some concurrent sessions. That made for difficult choices, but no bad ones. See photos of the event on the MCFL Facebook page.

A few observations:

A film called “Hush” is going to grab your attention.

The convention featured the screening of a film that you’re going to want to see and share. “Hush”


 

is from two filmmakers with opposing views of abortion who found that they shared  genuine, open curiosity about abortion’s effect on women’s health.

Pro-choice documentary filmmaker Punam Kumar Gill and pro-life producer Joses Martin explored that subject, not knowing where it would lead. What they found was clinical evidence of a link between abortion and breast cancer – a link that has been “hushed up.” They also saw how in different parts of the world, preborn girls are usually the ones targeted in sex-selection abortions. Gill and Martin saw the money-making side of the abortion industry and the effects of abortion on a woman’s later pregnancies.

“Hush” is the result. Gill remains pro-choice, but she doesn’t deny or turn away from her infuriating findings. She calls for open, honest dialogue.

The film’s web site includes a brief trailer and information on the crowdfunding effort that is making distribution possible.

We need to listen to former abortion workers who have turned their backs on the industry – and help them share their stories.

Catherine Adair, well-known to longtime readers of this blog, spoke at the convention about her time as a Planned Parenthood employee and about her pro-life conversion. I looked around the room during her presentation and saw the rapt faces of people who were obviously hearing a former abortion worker for the first time.

(Catherine’s story may be found on her blog The Harvest is Abundant.)

This was a pro-life crowd, and still, what Catherine had to say was new to many of the people in the room. I will never again assume that “everybody” already knows what goes on in the abortion industry.

I looked at Catherine while “Hush” was being screened, and saw her nodding as former abortion workers were interviewed in the documentary. She later affirmed that what she heard in the film was consistent with what she herself saw at PP.

Abby Johnson has written, “I have been told by several former workers that they will never come forward with their stories, because they are so scared of how they will be treated by us – by us, the supposed ‘Christian’ movement.” I thought of that as I listened to Catherine. In a way, in telling her own story, she’s speaking on behalf of those women and men who have left the abortion industry silently. They have yet to tell their own stories – and those stories won’t be easy to hear.

Let’s hear it for oratory contests (and the students who participate).

A high school student named Isabelle was named winner of MCFL’s Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson Oratory Contest, and she chose a topic that’s not on the radar of many students her age: assisted suicide and euthanasia, concentrating on the grim situation in parts of Europe where it’s legal to euthanize children. Let it be known that the rising generation sees what’s going on.

(MCFL is now raising money to send Isabelle and a chaperone to the National Right to Life convention, where she’ll compete with contest winners from other states.)

Isabelle’s presentation reminded me that a New Hampshire pro-life group used to sponsor a student oratory contest, long ago.  There’s an annual pro-life essay contest sponsored by the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus, and as a writer, I applaud that. Still…it sure would be nice to give budding speakers some encouragement, too. What do you think?

Flee the MOLST.

Just when you thought you had the advance-directive landscape all figured out for end-of-life care, along comes a new kind of document. Medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) is here – a law authorizing them quietly passed in New Hampshire a couple of years ago – and they’re a problem.

Sandra Kucharski, R.N. began her presentation to the MCFL convention by asking her listeners to make a grocery list. No other guidelines – just a grocery list. After a few minutes, she announced,”You’ve just made a list for food enough to feed a bunch of people at a 4th of July barbecue in 2020.” Whaaaat? When we didn’t know what we were making a list for….aha. So it is with MOLST.

More about MOLST on this blog in a later post. For now, I intend to avoid signing one, while making sure my health care proxy and advance directive (which is NOT a living will, thank you very much) are still in place.

Etc.

I could go on: speakers on Silent No More, youth ministry, RU-486 reversal, sex education in Massachusetts and its link to the abortion industry, the Texas abortion regulations now at the Supreme Court, and effective use of social media left me with almost more information than I could take in at one sitting.  Well done, MCFL.