by Abby Johnson
I was frozen in disbelief. Without realizing it, I let go of the probe. It slipped off the patientÕs tummy and slid onto her leg. I could feel my heart pounding—pounding so hard my neck throbbed. I tried to get a deep breath but couldn’t seem to breathe in or out. I still stared at the screen, even though it was black now because I’d lost the image. But nothing was registering to me. I felt too stunned and shaken to move. I was aware of the doctor and nurse casually chatting as they worked, but it sounded distant, like vague background noise, hard to hear over the pounding of my own blood in my ears. The image of the tiny body, mangled and sucked away, was replaying in my mind, and with it the image of Grace’s first ultrasound—how she’d been about the same size. And I could hear in my memory one of the many arguments I’d had with my husband, Doug, about abortion.
“When you were pregnant with Grace, it wasn’t a fetus; it was a baby,” Doug had said. And now it hit me like a lightning bolt: He was right! What was in this woman”s womb just a moment ago was alive. It wasn”t just tissue, just cells. That was a human baby—fighting for life! A battle that was lost in the blink of an eye. What I have told people for years, what I’ve believed and taught and defended, is a lie.
Suddenly I felt the eyes of the doctor and nurse on me. It shook me out of my thoughts. I noticed the probe lying on the woman’s leg and fumbled to get it back into place. But my hands were shaking now.
“Abby, are you okay?” the doctor asked. The nurse’s eyes searched my face with concern.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” I still didn’t have the probe correctly positioned, and now I was worried because the doctor couldn’t see inside the uterus. My right hand held the probe, and my left hand rested gingerly on the woman’s warm belly. I glanced at her face—more tears and a grimace of pain. I moved the probe until I’d recaptured the image of her now-empty uterus. My eyes traveled back to my hands. I looked at them as if they weren’t even my own.
How much damage have these hands done over the past eight years? How many lives have been taken because of them? Not just because of my hands, but because of my words. What if I’d known the truth, and what if IÕd told all those women?
I had believed a lie! I had blindly promoted the “company line” for so long. Why? Why hadn’t I searched out the truth for myself? Why had I closed my ears to the arguments I’d heard? Oh, dear God, what had I done?
My hand was still on the patient’s belly, and I had the sense that I had just taken something away from her with that hand. I’d robbed her. And my hand started to hurt—I felt an actual physical pain. And right there, standing beside the table, my hand on the weeping woman’s belly, this thought came from deep within me:
Never again! Never again.