“We Love Them Out”: 5 Good Minutes With Meagan and Laura of And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None was founded by Abby Johnson in 2012, and in five years, hundreds of abortion-facility workers have come through ATTWN’s assistance program. All have left the abortion industry, with help from the only organization dedicated to offering spiritual and material support for such a decision.

How?

“We love them out.” That’s from Laura Ricketts of ATTWN, who with Meagan Weber represented the group at an exhibit table at the 2017 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. They love their work, and it shows. They kindly and quickly agreed to an impromptu interview with me, which I found more constructive than anything happening on the main stage.

How do you get someone who’s doing abortion work to approach you?

Laura: The short answer is love. We love them out. The longer answer is we have several initiatives that we follow through on, including sending handwritten cards into the abortion clinics to reach out to the workers.  We do a mailing of postcards that have our information inviting them to look us up, letting them know that they can quit, we can help. Sometimes we send flowers to the clinic. If there’s a situation that happens in a community, something specific surrounding that clinic, whether it’s something horrible that might have happened with a patient, or whether there are some unkind – well-meaning, but unkind – pro-life people on the sidewalk, we will send an apology into that clinic and say “I’m sorry.”

How many people have been assisted by ATTWN?

Meagan: To date since we were founded in 2012, we’ve received over 380 workers into our assistance program. That includes seven full-time abortion-providing doctors. We’ve transitioned them all out of the industry into life-affirming work and hope & healing in Christ.

What do well-meaning people do that makes your job harder?

Meagan: Graphic imagery. Inflammatory language such as abortion mill, abortuary, murderers – I mean, yes, abortion is an act that is complicit with murder. But who comes to Jesus Christ because you’re saying “you’re a dirty rotten sinner”? Same concept. We want to affirm their value as a human being, uniquely and distinctly created by God first and foremost. I’d also say trespassing on property [doesn’t help]. We have to flip that and say if we had a bunch of Planned Parenthood employees come into our pregnancy centers and go to the waiting room, [they’d be] violating the privacy of women who are seeking our services. And then they would be telling them “they’re lying to you, They’re not going to give you truthful information about your pregnancy and your options, and it’s your right to have an abortion…” We would never tolerate that happening. So we need to make sure we’re not doing that to them. If we’re truly concerned for the woman who goes into the clinic, who did not receive our information on the sidewalk, we should wait for her, be there for her on the way out.

Laura: Creating an environment around the clinic that feels unsafe or hostile is going to drive the women into the clinic for their abortions faster. And it’s also going to make the workers inside the clinic very distrustful of people who do call themselves pro-life who are scaring them a little bit.

Learn more about And Then There Were None at prolove.com and abortionworker.com and on Facebook. Learn more about Laura’s own work as a birth and bereavement doula at filumenabirth.com, and about Meagan at her Facebook page.

“Their story is not ours to share.”

The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)
The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)

Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None leads a team that has assisted hundreds of people who have chosen to leave the abortion industry. In The Walls Are Talking, Abby and co-worker Kristin Detrow related some of their stories.

Today, Abby took to Facebook to say why she hasn’t shared even more stories. Her answer begins and ends with the same assertion: those stories belong to the people who have lived them, and the stories are theirs to share, not hers.

“We truly value the courageous men and women who step forward and make this decision. We respect them. We value their privacy. And we allow them to take time to heal.”

The Facebook post is worth reading in full. Think in particular of the legal threats that can keep a worker from speaking out. “Ever since I left PP, they make sure that all of their workers sign several confidentiality statements. If they are in breech [sic] of that contract, then they will be sued.”

My one and only quibble with The Walls are Talking was the careful guarding of each former worker’s identity. Co-writer Detrow later said to me in an email, “I can assure you that I interviewed each and every one and have personally met many of them….I pray that the anonymity is not a stumbling block for readers.” Abby Johnson’s post today reminds me why anonymity isn’t just appropriate but essential, until such time as a worker chooses to speak out.

“Love wins, over and over.”

Abby Johnson Facebook May 2016

If you’re a Facebook regular, I recommend adding something to your feed if it’s not there already. Go “like” AbbyJohnson: ProWoman, ProChild, ProLife. As you probably know, Abby works with people who choose to leave the abortion industry and seek help making the transition to what is pretty much a new life.

This morning’s post struck me, particularly how it ended. Abby describes a former abortion worker’s first public speaking event since her departure from her former employer. Abby wrote,

“I have to tell you that it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. I know this may not be something you think about, but leaving the abortion industry is very lonely. When you work in the industry, all of your friends works [sic] in the industry, too. So when you leave, you leave all of your friends behind…the only support system you have. You feel very isolated.”

Read the Facebook post in full. It can be tough to envision the kind of outcome Abby describes when I encounter an abortion provider or other worker who promotes abortion – but just such an outcome is possible, even in a state like ours with an abortion-friendly culture. “Love wins, over and over.”