Roger Marsh: The following program is intended for mature audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
Well, welcome back to Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh, and today we are joined by Abby Johnson once again. Abby shared with us yesterday a bit of her testimony about how she worked in the abortion industry and how she was asked to take part in a procedure, and immediately her heart became open to the innocence that was actually being destroyed. Abby promptly left her position at the abortion clinic and now works to help others leave that destructive industry as well. In today's program, she'll share with us how God has redeemed her life and has done it for others as well.
Now, before we begin, let me share a little bit more about Abby Johnson. She worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years, and eventually became the clinic director in Bryan, Texas. In 2009, Abby walked away from her job and, as we just discussed, it was in 2009 that Abby walked away from her job, as she had been asked to take part in an ultrasound-guided abortion.
Today, Abby has found her calling and mission as the founder and CEO of the organization called And Then There Were None. It's a nonprofit organization she designed to help abortion clinic workers transition out of the industry. And Then There Were None has helped over 630 workers leave the abortion industry altogether. Abby Johnson is also the author of the book Unplanned, which was adapted into a feature film just a few years ago. Other books she has written include The Walls Are Talking, and her newest release, Fierce Mercy. Abby is married to her wonderful husband, Doug, and together they are the parents of eight children. They make their home in Austin, Texas.
Now this episode was recorded during the annual March for Life event in Washington, DC this past January where our own Dr. Tim Clinton sat down with Abby Johnson. Let's join them right now for part two of this moving conversation right here on Family Talk.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Abby, welcome back, and as we get started today, we talked yesterday about the abortion industry and the workers who are out there and what they're witnessing, and you told your story, which, by the way, was so moving. I was actually feeling I was in the room. When you witness horrific events in life, like if you're in a war and you see someone next to you get killed, or you see a car accident or something like that, that trauma goes deep in your soul, and often people say they don't remember it. Abby, they begin to often relive it. They can remember the smell, maybe the sounds, how their body felt, and more. Can you go in and elaborate a little bit more about your experience, what you're learning and what you're seeing in abortion workers and more?
Abby Johnson: Absolutely. You know what's interesting, when I spoke at the Republican National Convention, I had to have my entire talk scripted out, which is very-
Dr. Tim Clinton: It's a hard thing to do.
Abby Johnson: That's very unusual for me. I'm very off the cuff. I don't usually do that, but I had to have it done for the RNC, so I had my whole talk scripted out. And I'm reading it off the teleprompter and, all of a sudden, just words came out of my mouth that were not on the teleprompter, and it was a complete Holy Spirit moment. Really, it just came out of my mouth without me even thinking about it, and the words were, did you know abortion had a smell?
Dr. Tim Clinton: Wow.
Abby Johnson: It was not on the teleprompter, just came out of my mouth. That line was one of the most reported on lines of the entire RNC of 2020. When I said that line, it created such a ruckus in the media, I think, because nobody had ever talked about that. We've seen the pictures, right? We've talked about the graphic nature, all this, but nobody ever talked about the smell of abortion. That evening, I go to check my text messages. Of course, I have a million text messages from my friends and my family and everyone who saw my talk. I had all of these messages, though, from my friends at And Then There Were None, and they were all talking about that line, the smell of abortion.
Some of them said, "Abby, when you said the smell of abortion, I literally ran to the toilet to vomit. The smell immediately came back. I will never forget that smell." Some of them said, "Abby, I had completely forgotten that abortion had a smell, and as soon as you said it, I smelled it." Abortion clinic workers have experienced abortion in a very tangible way.
I think, for a lot of us, we think about abortion, it's theoretical, and we say, "Oh, abortion is wrong," and we think about it and we say, "It's wrong. Killing babies, wrong," but for us, we've experienced evil in a very sensory, tangible way. I can say that I have touched evil. I have touched aborted babies in a dish. I have looked at them. I have seen them. I have smelled abortion. That's something that most people, hopefully, have never experienced, and that evil, that tangible evil, is something that stays with you, many times in the form of PTSD, sometimes for the rest of your life. And so, for the rest of your life, you're learning how to live with the triggers. That's what you're learning how to do.
I don't have panic attacks anymore. I did when I first left the clinic. One time, I had one in front of my husband. I don't think he knew how to deal with it. He was shocked. But we used to use dry ice in our clinic to pack up aborted babies when we shipped them off for research, and we had received a box of steaks as a gift, and I opened up the box and I opened up the Styrofoam. And we shipped the babies, the aborted babies, in a Styrofoam container in dry ice. And I opened up the Styrofoam, and all of this dry ice, the smoke of the dry ice, came out, and I just immediately went back to that moment where I'm packing aborted baby parts into a Styrofoam container, and, immediately, I felt like I couldn't breathe and I just had a panic attack right there on my kitchen floor.
That's not normal. That's not a normal thing to do at a job. Now, I don't have that anymore. I've learned how to deal with it. I've learned how to manage it through the grace of God. He's helped me get through that. That's what we're trying to do. That's what we're trying to help, these former abortion workers, we're trying to help them manage those moments in their life, but you never forget, you never forget that smell. You never forget what that looks like. You just learn to live with it.
Dr. Tim Clinton: And, in the journey, somehow God puts a bridge over it and begins to bring healing. I'll never forget being in the counseling office, little woman across from me who had been waiting to tell me something week after week after week, and, finally, this mother told me about an abortion that she had, and this mother told me about how, when she would go to bed at night, all she could hear were babies crying, babies screaming every night. And she said, "Tim, well God ever forgive me? Will He ever forgive me?" And we had a moment, I'll never forget, in this moment of prayer, I looked at her and I said, "He forgives you," and she cried and cried and cried.
Abby, when God brings His healing grace in, and He does, because God longs for us to come to Him with that kind of brokenness so He can bring life to us, what do you say to her out there? She's been holding it in her heart and she's been crying out and she just wants to know that God loves her, that God forgives her, and that maybe God's calling her. That might be down the road. It may be a new Abby Johnson story. What do you say?
Abby Johnson: Oh, Tim, when I left the clinic, I didn't understand how God could forgive so many sins. I didn't. I thought, "22,000 abortions, that's not possible." If it had been a few, maybe, but I've accumulated so many, there's just no way. He could forgive a little bit at a time, but not this many. I have a hill too big and it's just too much for Him to forgive. I thought, "There's no way." And I thought, at times, "I am too far gone for Him to forgive me, and I'm just going to have to work and work and work my way back into His good graces. I'm going to have to work and work and work my way into forgiveness with God," and, even then, I just didn't know if it was possible.
And I lived in this constant state of shame. I felt bad about who I was because of what I had done, and I lived in my past constantly. I woke up every day and I lived in my past, and one day, I just woke up and I just made a decision. I thought, "Okay. I can either live in the past, which is where Satan wants me to live, the past is his playground, because that's a place I cannot change. I can't change anything about my past. If I could, I would, but I can't. That's obviously where he wants me to stay. I can live there. I can drink too much wine and just drown in my sorrows, or I can live in the present, in this gift that God gives me every day. I can bring all of these secrets. I can put them out in the light so that Satan has no control over them anymore, and I can just give it to Him and I can say, 'God, just use it. Whatever you want to do with it, just use it.'"
And so that's what I started doing, and I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't have some hard days where I went backwards, and I'm not going to tell you that I didn't have some days where I continued to live in my past and I threw a pity party for myself, but, as I continued to live in the present, as I continued to live in God's grace and His mercy and His forgiveness, it got easier and easier and easier, and it really just became a habit. It felt so good, and His forgiveness felt so good, and His mercy felt so good, I thought, "Why would I ever want to go back and live in that shame? Why would I ever want to do that? This feels so good."
Dr. Tim Clinton: Shame holds you in prison.
Abby Johnson: It does. I don't want to live in prison.
Dr. Tim Clinton: It locks you up. Yep.
Abby Johnson: I don't want to live in that bondage. I want to live in freedom. And so then, eventually, I woke up and I didn't have to choose anymore. It just felt natural to live in God's grace.
Dr. Tim Clinton: That's Galatians 5:1, "It's for freedom that Christ has come to set us free." As the Scripture says, "Kiss the Son and you'll be free indeed."
Roger Marsh: You're listening to Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh and, if you're just joining us, we are listening to a powerful program featuring our own Dr. Tim Clinton and Abby Johnson. It was recorded during the annual March for Life this past January. Abby used to work at an abortion clinic, and then God called her away from that industry and into a new ministry helping others transition away from it as well. Well, there's more to hear from Abby Johnson, so let's rejoin the discussion right now as we hear the conclusion of this dynamic conversation here on Family Talk.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Abby, what a story, and in it, and I'm just drawn back to your new book, really, about Fierce Mercy, and that's the essence of what you're talking about here, that, somewhere in the midst of it, He's a God of grace and mercy, a God who longs for us to come to Him. And like 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That's like the thief on the cross hanging up there and Jesus looked at him and said, "Today, you will be with me in paradise, forgiven and all." That's just like God. That's the beauty here.
I want you to close us out with, I don't know, there's a song in your heart, there's something in there that's different, and I think the world knows that. And it drives you, it set you free, just a word of hope again to anyone out there wrestling, confused, angry, lost, whatever it is, whatever they're battling, you know that what God's done in your heart, He can do in their heart.
Abby Johnson: I'm going to tell you a story about a woman who is part of our ministry. She came through And Then There Were None. She called us. We'd worked with her for a couple weeks. She decided she was going to come to one of our healing retreats, and we'd bought her an airline ticket, and she just had decided that life was not worth living, but we had bought her a ticket, and she thought we were nice people, she didn't want to waste our money, so she decided she was going to come.
She wrote out a suicide note. She wrote out plans, what to do with her children after she was gone. She had written all these letters. She had thrown away her wedding ring, put it in the trash in her bathroom. She flew down to our retreat. She had an amazing encounter with the Lord during that retreat, and she told us during that retreat, "When I got home on Sunday, I was planning to kill myself, I was just going to end it all, but because I came here and because I encountered the Lord, I feel like I have a new heart. I feel like a new person." And I remember saying to her, "You are. You are. You are a new creation in Christ. That's what He's done for you." She went home. She dug her wedding ring out of the trash, she tore up the letters, and now she's one of our most active pro-life speakers for And Then There Were None. She's amazing. She's getting her Ph.D. in counseling.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Really?
Abby Johnson: She's incredible. That's what God can do with our brokenness. He can mend any brokenness that we have in us. He can use any messiness, any loneliness, anything. He can use anything in our past and He can use it for His glory. We just have to reach out to Him, and we aren't meant to heal alone. We are meant to heal in community with one another. And so I would just say, if you are feeling lonely, if you are feeling like, "I just can't do this alone anymore," please reach out to someone. You do not have to do this alone. You are not alone. Let someone know. Reach out. There are people willing to help you.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah, I want to echo that. I just think I don't know where you're at or what you're going through, but God does. He sees you. He uses anything. He'll use a radio broadcast, our special guest, Abby Johnson, to speak into your life, to hear His voice. All He beckons you to do is simply respond to Him. Say yes to God, say yes to Him, and let Him change everything. You know why? Because He can, and He longs to do that. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to bring that healing. He wants to bring that forgiveness. He wants to bring that grace into this moment, into your life.
We pray for that earnestly. Abby and I pray right now, for those of you who are listening right in this moment, that God would move in your life in a special way. And I'm sure Abby would love to connect with you. We'd love to connect you with you at the Dr. James Dobson Institute and more, if you'll reach out. Abby, how do they find out more information about you?
Abby Johnson: Yep. They can go to my website, Abby J, A-B-B-Y-J.com. There's a contact link. If you need me, I'm very accessible.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Abby, what an amazing couple of days. We're just blessed that you took time out of your schedule to come join us here on the broadcast, and I know God's going to use this in a powerful way. I can't wait to hear what God's doing in and through these two programs. As always, on behalf of Dr. Dobson, his wife Shirley, our team, we thank you, salute you, and pray God's best on the road forward. Thank you for joining us.
Roger Marsh: Wow. God can heal and restore the brokenness. Boy, what a compelling interview featuring Abby Johnson today here on Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh, and if you'd like to go back and listen to any part of the conversation you just heard, remember, you can do so just by visiting our website at drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. That's drjamesdobson.org/family talk. It'll take you right to the audio.
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Dr. James Dobson: I remember sitting one day in my car at a fast food restaurant eating a hamburger and french fries. When I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw the most pitiful, scrawny, dirty little kitten on a ledge behind my car. I was so touched by how hungry he looked that I got out, tore off a piece of my hamburger, and tossed it to him, but before this little kitten could reach it, a huge gray tomcat sprang out of the bushes, grabbed the morsel, and gobbled it down. I felt so sorry for the little guy, who turned and ran back into the shadows, still hungry and frightened.
I was immediately reminded of my years as a junior high school teacher. I saw teenagers every day who were just as needy, just as deprived, just as lost as that little kitten. It wasn't food that they required. It was love and attention and respect that they needed, and they were desperate for it, and just when they opened up and revealed the pain inside, one of the more popular kids would abuse them and ridicule them and send them scurrying back into the shadows, frightened and alone. We, as adults, must never forget the pain of trying to grow up and of the competitive world in which many adolescents live today. To take a moment to listen, to care, and to direct such a youngster may be the best investment of a lifetime.
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