... When they do, I try to document them. I don’t always share them…some of them I just won’t ever be able to share with you. Some of them are things most of you wouldn’t want to know. But some of them I can’t wait to share…this is one of those memories.
Most of the time, there is no communication between an abortionist and a woman having an abortion. None. Usually, the doctor comes in without introducing himself, mask on his face, sits on a stool, performs the procedure, and walks out without saying a word to the woman on the table. We never had any complaints. I guess women don’t expect the doctor who will take the life of their child to have wonderful bedside manner.
About 3 months before I left Planned Parenthood, we had a young woman in the clinic who I had counseled before her abortion. She was very noticeably upset about having an abortion. I questioned her and encouraged her to go home and think about her decision. She was insistent…this abortion must happen today. This is what she wanted. She was just emotional, she said. She asked if I would be in the room with her to hold her hand during the procedure. I was happy to do that for people I counseled…especially those that were nervous or upset. We got her in the room, I sat down beside her, got her blood pressure cuff on, and the sedation was given. But the sedation didn’t make much difference. She cried even harder. So hard she was shaking and her body was moving off the table. The doctor entered the room in the usual manner. He was about to sit down on his stool and realized she was very upset. Then he did something that left me speechless. He walked over to her and stood next to my chair. He took her hand and began talking to her. “Why the tears?” he said. “I just feel really guilty about doing this,” she responded. He asked her why she felt guilty. She said, “Because I just know this is a sin.” He paused for a minute and looked at her…he was looking at her so carefully…so cautiously…I had never seen one of our doctors treat a patient like this before. He smiled gently at her and said, “No. It is not your sin. It is mine. I will take on your sin. I commit the sin. Not you.” He patted her hand, walked back to his stool and sat down. Her crying stopped. It was bizarre. Did he really think he was committing a sin? How could he do it if he really thought that? Did he think he was taking on the sins of these women by helping them obtain abortions? What a heavy burden to bear. It was hard for me to process…it still is.
Read the rest of Abby Johnson's post, "My sin ... not yours", on her site, www.AbbyJohnson.org.
For more about Abby's book, Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of the Planned Parenthood Leader Who Crossed the Life Line to Fight for Women in Crisis, read the opening chapter or visit the book's website.