The following is a guest post from Danny Gunderman. Danny is the Arkansas director for Americans United for Life.
The First Baptist Church in West Little Rock was the venue for approximately 400 members of the pro-life public attending an open forum on the evening of July 26, 2011. Coming together to hear three well-known individuals in the national pro-life movement, citizens were encouraged to take action on their belief in the sanctity of life. Two days of strategy meetings, with the goal of ending abortion in Arkansas, were also conducted in conjunction with the Public Forum.
At the Public Forum, Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood Affiliate, shared her personal and captivating story of coming full circle from being raised in a Christian home, to becoming a Clinic Director for Planned Parenthood, to finally obeying the call in her heart to leave Planned Parenthood and join the pro-life cause. Shawn Carney, National Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life, engaged Abby throughout her conversation as they shared their experience of how God’s Hand brought them together to promote a pro-life agenda.
Working for the Planned Parenthood clinic for almost 10 years, Abby’s pro-life conversion was triggered the day she was asked to assist in an ‘ultrasound-guided abortion.’ Abby described to the audience how the tiny baby appeared to recoil and flee from the intruding instruments as the abortionist began the procedure. Deeply troubled after watching the abortion live on the ultrasound monitor, Abby knew she could no longer continue to work at an abortion clinic. That day Abby walked out of her office at Planned Parenthood and into the office next door to Coalition for Life.
What Abby did not yet fully understand is the work that had been going on behind the scenes to bring her to that moment. Shawn Carney, Director of Coalition for Life at that time, had spent his first years out of college called to serve the pro-life cause through this organization. During these years, Coalition for Life volunteers had stood outside the Planned Parenthood clinic where Abby worked, offering help and prayers for the families arriving for an abortion as well as prayers for the clinic workers. Over time, the love and prayerful presence brought Abby Johnson out of Planned Parenthood and into Shawn Carney’s office at Coalition for Life. After several years of working, both literally and figuratively, on opposite sides of the fence, Shawn was surprised and apprehensive to see Abby in his office that day. Sharing her emotional experience with Shawn, she found unconditional support that helped her quit her job at Planned Parenthood and lead to healing and direction for her life.
No one could have predicted the sequence of events that has unfolded since the courageous step Abby took that day and how her actions would change the pro-life landscape in this country. She has shared her powerful journey in her bestselling book, ‘Unplanned’ that takes the reader through her thoughts and emotions as she was first influenced to “help” women through Planned Parenthood and how she now is on a quest to expose the truth about Planned Parenthood’s profitable agenda and the devastating consequences of abortion.
David Bereit, National Director for 40 Days for Life, concluded the public forum with an energetic, inspiring call to action. This campaign has had a profound life-saving impact as a result of prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil outside abortion clinics. The first 40 Days for Life campaign outside that Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, has now expanded into nearly three hundred cities around the United States and several other countries. David informed the crowd that participating in a fall or spring 40 Days for Life campaign is a direct way to act on their pro-life beliefs. Thousands of babies have been reported as saved from abortion during the five years since the first campaign. Abortion-minded women and their families have expressed comfort after seeing the presence of people praying for them on the public sidewalk. Like Abby, at least 50 clinic workers have had a conversion of heart and quit their job in the abortion industry and 14 abortion clinics have closed their doors. David encouraged all pro-life individuals to volunteer at least one hour in the upcoming “40 Days for Life” campaign this fall in Little Rock and Fayetteville. More information can be found at www.40daysforlife.com.
If you would like to receive a DVD copy of the public forum, or have questions regarding how to get involved with one of the groups within the pro-life collaboration, send an email to ARlifeconnection@sbcglobal.net with your name and contact information.