Franne with Dave Franco
UNLIKE SO MANY COLLEGE GRADUATES, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my degree. Although I love my daughter more than I can say, I lived through the hard reality of becoming a teenage mother some years earlier.
At some point, I learned that Planned Parenthood offered birth control pills. Fully believing that women had the right to choose what happens to their bodies, I was going to take my degree and be a part of the symbol of the pro-choice movement—Planned Parenthood, the mythical, great defender of women and feminist enlightenment. I applied, got the job and got right to work.
Jump to three years later, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and was feeling desperate for something to come along and touch where it hurt. I had been a church-goer growing up; more out of tradition than anything else. But suddenly it was church that seemed like my only chance for some healing. When I went back and started attending my church’s young adults’ group, a few of the leaders made a huge impression on me.. It wasn’t so much what they said as it was the way they carried themselves. They had such a peace about them and, if I had to describe it, a sense that everything was OK and would always be OK. They had loving smiles. They talked with such positivity. After a few weeks, I pulled one of them aside.
“What do you have inside you that makes you act the way you do?” I asked. “I want some of that.”
“God,” she said as if it surprised her that I had missed it. “I read the Bible and pray and meditate on Jesus. And then I ask for God’s presence. The point is to get close to God through His Son.”
That was all I needed to hear. I started to do just that—and my heart began to respond. God came flooding into my life and I finally began to feel some peace.
However, one night in prayer, I found myself saying something to God I didn’t really know was there inside my soul waiting to be tended. “Lord, please reveal to me whether or not you want me to stay at Planned Parenthood. I will do whatever you want.” Looking back now, I was really asking if I should get out from under my horrible boss. But what happened next made it clear that God had other, bigger reasons that he planted that prayer in my heart.
God let me see, almost like film strip playing before my eyes, my entire tenure at Planned Parenthood, the good, the bad and the tragic. As I watched, I began seeing things I hadn’t fully realized before. It was like scales were falling from my eyes.
Three-and-a-half years is a long time and my experiences are many. But the most prevalent sin committed by Planned Parenthood was the catastrophic relationship they nurtured with the women in the community we served. Planned Parenthood’s policy of accommodating their every whim, even altering fetus measurements to allow for less invasive abortions, turned our facility into a revolving door. Women would come back repeatedly to get abortions because there was no incentive not to. We made abortion so easy and comfortable. We became their enabler, their de facto family planning, their sexual release valve. The relationship was so cozy the lines began to blur. Were we a clinic that served women in need, or had we become big sister? We never offered our frequent returners counseling or the smallest intervention to let them know that multiple abortions were wreaking havoc on them.
We just took their money.
With so many customers coming in repeatedly, especially the women who came in for birth control but came back for abortions, it was their faces that began to tell a true and terrible story. Faces that once had life in them began to turn cold and expressionless. It’s as if we were no longer the answer to their problem but had just become a part of their cycle of pain—yet they didn’t know enough to stop. They couldn’t help but return to something that was eroding their souls. Of course, we didn’t let on.
Why couldn’t they see that each time they left with birth control in their bags that, as a sexual strategy, it was an abject failure?
Then there was my supervisor who cared about every woman who came in, but just until they left the clinic. That is when she privately demeaned them and talked like they were nothing more than a paycheck. It was more than awful. It hurt to know there was someone out there with the ability to be that two-faced.
It was more than clear what God was showing me. I left Planned Parenthood and never looked back.
A few years later I heard about AND THEN THERE WERE NONE from a friend. The name might not have meant anything to me but I remembered back when I was working at Planned Parenthood that our clinic had received a book, Unplanned, from our national office. Their goal was to alert us to all the “outrageous” accusations that the author, a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager, was making. So disgusted by the book was my supervisor that she tossed it in the trash. And that is what caught my eye—a brand new, pristine book sitting on top of all the garbage. I looked at it long, zeroing in the name of the woman who had struck such fear: Abby Johnson.
That is what gave the organization a note of familiarity when it was mentioned to me some years later. I was out of the industry by that time and doing fine, and yet was still so curious about what they offered to abortion workers. And so, I called them. They invited me to attend a healing retreat. “Do I need healing?” I wondered.
Attending the retreat, for which all my expenses were paid, I found a freedom I never knew I needed. Every woman there had lived my story. I was able talk to them without having to hide anything, realizing that I had been concealing my shameful past from nearly everybody. It was a prison cell I didn’t know I had gotten used to.
Now I belong to a community of ladies just like me, friendly, nonjudgmental faces to talk to. It’s a freedom I can never really describe. The healing that I so desperately needed is happening more each day.