And Then There Were None: Abby Johnson's New Ministry

No more abortion clinic workers.
No more abortion clinics.
No more abortions.

This is the slogan and simple strategy of And Then There Were None, the new ministry launched by Abby Johnson, the pro-life advocate and former Planned Parenthood clinic director.

“We have hundreds of ministries for post-abortive women and men. There is literally nothing for these former clinic workers,” Johnson said.  “We are going to change that.”

ATTWN seeks to assist former abortion clinic workers through these four integral aspects: emotional, spiritual, legal and financial.

Brilliant idea, right? Being pro-life means caring equally for the unborn and the already-born -- and that includes women and men who work at abortion clinics, but want to get out. Many women have abortions because they feel like they have no choice. The same is true for abortion workers: They've come to hate the work, but they have to support their families somehow. Abby Johnson herself said that she felt able to resign as director of a clinic because she knew she would survive financially. So she wants to extend that same security and encouragement to others. The ATTWN website says:

Emotional support will be readily available for these former clinic workers as they need it. They will be connected to a spiritual guidance counselor of any religious denomination of their choosing for the process of spiritual healing. Full legal protections of an attorney will be available to former clinic workers at no cost. They will obtain financial support as they receive assistance in finding a new job outside of the abortion industry.

Aside from prayer, the most crucial aspect of this new ministry is garnering funds so these clinic workers can literally afford to leave the abortion industry and still be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Not everyone is thrilled about Johnson's new idea -- not even everyone on the pro-life side. When Johnson announced her initiative on Facebook, some putative pro-lifers responded with anger and disgust at the thought of making it easy for abortionists to leave the industry. Most of those comments have been deleted so as not to discourage readers who are still working for the abortion industry (Johnson says that she herself may have quit the industry sooner, had she not met so many nasty and negative "pro-lifers"); but here's one typical comment:

"[A]re they now morally opposed to the aspects of their jobs? If so, money or not, I wouldn't keep doing it! I don't know, maybe I misunderstand, but it sounds like, 'Well, I'd like to stop helping this organization kill people, but the pay is just too good!'"


And there were several along these lines, saying that if the abortion workers really had a change of heart, they ought to quit on the spot and take a job at McDonald's to show the strength of their convictions. And a few even condemned these men and women outright, calling them murderers -- saying that, far from deserving help, they deserve to rot in hell.

Let's be very clear here. Yes, Jesus loves a leap of faith. Jesus loves martyrs. Jesus calls us to take up our cross, abandon our former lives and follow him.  But he also requires those of us who are already following him to make the journey easier for each other. We're supposed to take up our own crosses willingly, but try to make each other's crosses lighter.  

This is what St. Nicholas was doing when, according to legend, he crept through the streets at night, tossing bags of gold coins into the window of a poor famiy contemplating selling their daughters into prostitution. Or maybe you can imagine the original Santa Claus harumphing, "If they really thought prostitution was so wrong, they'd rather starve than get involved in that industry!" Nope. Bags of money. It's called "being the body of Christ" -- a body that has arms and hands that do the work.

Or maybe you can imagine Christ himself saying, "If you people were really interested in hearing my words, you wouldn't be so worried about lunch!" Nope. He preached for a while, then told them to sit down and get comfortable, and he made sure they had something to eat. Because when people's bodily needs are taken care of, they're much more able to receive food for their souls.

Martyrdom is something that the bad guys supply. The good guys should be rooting for conversions without any spilling of blood (or foreclosures or bankruptcies). It's okay to help someone out of a life of sin and darkness. There is nothing shameful or mediocre or compromising in acknowledging that, in most conversions, dawn breaks gradually. It's a good thing to shore up the footing under people who are taking their first steps into the unknown.

The good news is, there are enough people teetering on the brink of conversion that such a ministry is necessary! These are thrilling times. So let's just remember: It's hard enough changing sides. The last thing Christians ought to be doing is yelling at the bridge-builders.