Jewels Green is a stay-at-home mother of three boys. A former abortion-business worker, she left the industry and became a pro-life advocate in 2011. A former Lutheran, Green entered the Catholic Church on April 7, 2012. She recently spoke with Register senior writer Tim Drake from her home outside Philadelphia.
How did you first become involved in abortion work?
I worked at the Allentown Women’s Center, a freestanding abortion center that has been in continuous operation for more than 30 years. I was a poster child for cross-training. I did every job there except for doctor and nurse. I answered the phone and booked appointments; I took payments; I was trained in the lab, so that I could do simple blood work and pregnancy tests.
I served as a medical assistant, taking blood pressures before and after surgery. I was an autoclave technician, which involved sterilizing medical instruments. It’s there where I saw the jars with the aborted babies’ remains in them. I painted the staff bathroom one weekend.
I worked there between 1990 and 1995, at the ages of 19-24. I returned to work there part time in 2002, when I was pregnant with my eldest son.
I was hired within a year of my own abortion. I had my own first-trimester abortion at the age of 17, in January 1989. I tried to kill myself and ended up in an adolescent psych unit. Within weeks of being discharged, I attended an abortion-rights march in Washington, D.C.
I went to graduate school for psychology, so I describe my decision as [the Freudian defense mechanism known as] reaction formation. I knew what I did was wrong, but to be okay with it, I became a staunch supporter of abortion rights. It was an attempt to mask my own feelings.
I volunteered as an escort on Saturdays, and when there was an entry-level position, I applied and was eventually hired. Along with my application, I wrote a short essay about my own experience. I explained that although this had happened to me, I was a supporter.
How did your conversion come about? Was it sudden or gradual?
I have a feeling that many things that seem overnight were kindling for a very long time. I considered myself pro-choice well into 2010, even though I hadn’t worked at the center for a long time. I wasn’t donating to the cause. I was a busy stay-at-home mom.
It never really occurred to me to question that long-held belief until the fall of 2010. At that time, I came to know the friend of a friend who was a gestational surrogate for someone.
As I thought about how unnatural that seemed — the whole idea of manipulating life — I started thinking and questioning and learning more about in vitro fertilization and scientific man-manipulated life. About that time, my friend shared something that she had been told in her surrogate support group. One of the members of the group was carrying a child for a couple. A part of her surrogate contract was genetic testing, and the tests came back positive for Down syndrome. She was offered her contract payment in full if she would abort. And she did. She was probably offered tens of thousands of dollars, like a mob hit.
That was it. That was when the light switched on, and I said, ‘This is just wrong.’
Within weeks of that, Abby Johnson’s book Unplanned came out, and I stumbled across a video of her on YouTube. I couldn’t believe that there was someone else out there like me — another clinic worker who left. Within a couple of weeks, I was praying outside a hospital that was performing abortions.
Did you have a faith life during your years at the abortion business?
I was raised [in the] Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I attended Sunday school, sang in the choir and attended religious services faithfully until my teen years. My husband is a lifelong Catholic.
What led to your religious conversion?
After my pro-life conversion, I wanted to tell the world about the senseless slaughter. When I shared my story with our pastor, he kept badgering me about who would take care of the crack babies and who would adopt all these children. Eventually, my pastor reminded me that the ELCA has a pro-choice policy. I realized that I had to do some soul searching. One of my first resources was Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. The biggest draw was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Outside of receiving him at Mass, my favorite thing is Eucharistic adoration. That’s what finally drew me — the idea that God could be with me every day. Getting to Mass feeds your soul.
Our children will now be raised in the Catholic faith.
Did you reach out to former Planned Parenthood worker Abby Johnson during your process?
Yes, I wrote to her. As soon as I self-identified as pro-life, some disturbing nightmares came back. She was one of the few people I could relate to. Then I met Catherine Adair online. She’s another former Planned Parenthood worker from Boston. We have much in common and can pray together. It’s very comforting. It’s important to have a kindred spirit.
What do you mean by having much in common?
I guess what I mean is that we — former abortion clinic workers who are now vocal and public pro-life advocates — were all post-abortive before we began working in the abortion industry. We all became pro-life, and we all have sought to play a role in speaking out. We all share a similar chronology, which I find fascinating. We are our own support system.
That makes me wonder how many of the women who work in the abortion business are post-abortive.
My guesstimate is that the percentage of post-abortive women working in the abortion business is very high. I know that I wasn’t the only post-abortive woman who worked at our center. I think there are a lot of people who attempt to go about healing the wrong way, by working at a clinic.
I hope that as more and more women come out of the industry, there are more ministries that can help them. There has to be some type of retreat that can minister to and help us heal.
The strangest things happen to you. They can be so scary. Once, my husband went grocery shopping. When he returned, he had gotten everything on the list, including new rubber gloves. When I put them on to wash the dishes, I started to shake and cry, but didn’t know why at first. The gloves were yellow, and when I put them on, all I could see was the blood. They were the same color as the gloves I used to wash bloody instruments at the clinic. I had to throw them away. Triggers like that will always be there. When things like that happen, you [former clinic workers] need support.
Abby Johnson has just unveiled her new ministry, And Then There Were None, which is reaching out and helping folks leaving the abortion industry by offering social and financial support. And there’s Rachel’s Vineyard, which offers hope and healing.
Tim Drake is the Register’s senior writer.