Abby Johnson will speak in Spokane on Tuesday, March 22, about her experience as a former clinic director for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas.
The free presentation at the INB Performing Arts Center – on behalf of a group called Coalition for Life – will review her decision to leave the agency in 2009 after being asked to assist in an ultrasound guided abortion procedure in which she saw a first-trimester baby fight courageously for life – and lose.
Now, Johnson works to save lives. Her book “unPlanned,” chronicles the change.
“What I have told people for years, what I’ve believed and taught and defended is a lie,” Johnson said. “What if I’d known the truth and what if I’d told all those women?”
At Life Services of Spokane, people like Sharon Hengy provide a nurturing environment for women in similar circumstances, helping them to sustain life. In addition to a maternity home that includes room and board, Life Services offers counseling, case management, prenatal and birthing instruction and parenting classes. Assistance in securing financial and medical aid as well as help in completing school or vocational training is also provided. Adoption support is included as an option.
Hengy said the purpose of Life Services – a nonprofit organization – revolves around “a focus on hope” and the encouragement offered by staff and volunteers.
“They really walk alongside the women and speak positively into their lives,” she said. “If they stumble, they’re right there to help them back up.”
Other safe havens include Alexandria’s House, facilitated through the local branch of Volunteers of America, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane which provides 24-hour care for infants and children and the Spokane Regional Health District’s Nurse/Family Partnership where nurses work side-by-side with first-time mothers.
Other programs throughout the area offer similar reinforcement. Early Head Start, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and Head Start pour a healthy foundation of support for parents and children while the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program offers nutritional help as well as medical resources.
Many couples are unable to have children for medical reasons and wait hopefully for the chance to adopt. An option called “open adoption” provides an opportunity for the birth mother to stay connected with the child.
There are safety nets in place to save lives. There are provisions to help those who can’t defend themselves. There are ways to avoid the extinguishing of an innocent and helpless human being as Abby Johnson witnessed in 2009 – someone who was not granted rights; someone who was not given a choice to live.