Abortion Clinic Director Converts During "40 Days"

National Campaign Claims 542 Lives Saved

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By Genevieve Pollock

BRYAN, Texas, NOV. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood center, left the organization after watching a baby being aborted, and is now working with those who prayed for her conversion.

Johnson, 29, worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years until she watched, by an ultrasound transmission, a fetus "crumple" as it was vacuumed from its mother last September.

On Oct. 6, she quit her job as the Bryan center director. She walked across the street to the Coalition for Life, a pro-life group that was at that time joined with cities across the nation in a 40 Days for Life campaign.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, told ZENIT that in the latest campaign, which ended Sunday, seven other abortion workers quit their jobs, and 542 lives were saved.

And "these are just the ones we know of," he added, summing up the immediate results from the campaign that united 212 cities across 45 states, five Canadian provinces and Denmark.

The 40 Days program actually began at the Bryan clinic in 2004, as a grass-roots prayer and fasting initiative. Pro-life workers have gathered in front of this Planned Parenthood center for six campaigns to date, keeping a prayer vigil around the clock for those considering and advocating abortions.

Bereit stated: "From that first campaign in 2004, we've prayed for Abby -- and for all abortion workers -- that they would come to see what abortion really is, and that they would leave the deadly business.

"In this case, those prayers have been answered. We are so proud of Abby's courage to leave the abortion industry and publicly announce her reasons for leaving."

He noted that this conversion story "demonstrates the importance of a constant, peaceful prayer presence in front of abortion facilities."

Breaking point

Johnson, who is now appearing on radio and television shows around the country, explained that she had a "change of heart on this issue," 40 Days for Life reported.

She stated, "Over the past few months I had seen a change in motivation regarding the financial impact of abortions and really reached my breaking point after witnessing a particular kind of abortion on an ultrasound."

"I just thought, I can't do this anymore; and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," she told KBTX.com.

Johnson, an Episcopalian, described this moment as a "definite conversion" of heart, a "spiritual conversion."

Johnson also reported that although she originally got involved with Planned Parenthood because she wanted to help women, she had been having second thoughts because the center was changing its business model. "The money wasn't in prevention," she said, "the money was in abortion."

Johnson told FoxNews.com that she was actually instructed by her regional managers to increase the number of abortions performed to drive up profits.

"Every meeting that we had was, 'We don't have enough money, we don't have enough money -- we've got to keep these abortions coming,'" She said. "It's a very lucrative business and that's why they want to increase numbers."

Although Johnson's former place of employment only performed abortions on two days each month, every day the doctor was in, he could do up to 40 of these.

Now Johnson is helping women, but from the other side of the street. She began praying with volunteers outside Planned Parenthood, for those who were once her coworkers.

Power of prayer

Coalition for Life's director, Shawn Carney, affirmed: "It's truly been a testament to the power of prayer and the courage of Abby to leave a job she felt she could no longer do in good conscience.

"It has been a joy for all of our volunteers who have prayed outside of the clinic for the conversion of the clinic workers to witness that conversion actually happen."

Though Johnson has not yet found another job, she has been working closely with Carney and other members at the coalition.

Bereit explained to ZENIT, "Pro-life people are welcoming these former abortion workers with love and open arms."

He pointed to his organization's Web site, which has posted on its blog hundreds of notes from people worldwide who are expressing support for Abby.

Bereit stated that even one conversion will have far-reaching results. This will "certainly encourage other cities to conduct multiple 40 Days for Life campaigns, as well as to develop a regular prayer presence" even while the program is not going on, he said.

Bereit continued, "We are committed to press on until that day when no more women cry and no more children die."

He told ZENIT that two more campaigns are being planned for 2010, one during Lent, beginning Feb. 17, and another in the fall, Sept. 22-Oct. 31.

"In addition," Bereit said, "40 Days for Life is actively developing tools, training, and resources to educate, equip, and empower local pro-lifers to grow and expand the impact of their efforts."

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On the Net:

40 Days for Life: http://www.40daysforlife.com/

Coalition for Life: http://www.coalitionforlife.com/