Former abortion clinic workers detail conversion stories

WASHINGTON D.C. (CNA/EWTN NEWS) — At a recent conference in Illinois, former abortion workers told the stories of the work they once thought was helping women, and how they were converted to the pro-life position.

“We wanted to better understand the mindset of people who work in the abortion industry,” said conference planner Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League.

She told CNA that the purpose of the “CONVERTED: From Abortion Provider to Pro-Life Activist” conference was to hear what former abortion workers had to say about why they entered the abortion industry and what led them to leave it.

While abortion doctors and clinic workers are sometimes viewed as heartless by pro-lifers, some are actually “extremely compassionate people” who are misguided and believe they are “helping women,” she explained.

A new ministry by former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson is now helping those who wish to leave the abortion industry but are struggling in their decision to do so.

Johnson spoke about her ministry, And Then There Were None, which has had contact with 30 abortion workers in recent months.

One presenter, Dr. John Bruchalski, is currently a pro-life OB/GYN in northern Virginia. However, he performed abortions during his first two years of residency.

Although Bruchalski grew up in a Catholic household, he lost his faith in the 1970s and ‘80s. Wanting to be a “great” doctor, he felt he needed to perform abortions, which he believed would help women to be “happier” and “healthier.”

It was a combination of factors that changed his mind, he told CNA. Part of it was the experience of performing abortions.

“As you do the procedure, you begin to kill another human being up close,” he said, describing the experience of watching “the life drain from them” from just inches away. “That reality goes through your hand and into your heart.”

Performing abortions “hardens your heart every time,” because you have to continually justify your actions to yourself, he explained.

In addition, he said there was more and more emerging data showing that abortion and contraception were not healthy for women, but had some “pretty significant side effects,” both physically and psychologically.

There was also a relational aspect to his conversion, as a neonatologist whom he worked with challenged him to re-think his ideas.

Finally, he experienced a spiritual renewal, brought about in part by two pilgrimages he attended.
“All those pieces came together in 1989,” he said, explaining that he was forced to “adjust my heart and my whole outlook.”

Now, he tries to witness to others, helping them to see the reality of abortion.

“If it’s so darn good, why do so few doctors perform abortions?” he asks medical students when he gives talks.

Bruchalski said he knows other former abortion doctors who have converted, and each has a different story. He believes that God speaks to each person in his or her own way.

“He spoke to me in a language that I intrinsically understood,” he said.