Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains: An ex-employee’s perspective

Avatar

Three years ago I was the happiest guy on earth. I had a great job paying over $100K a year, an amazing wife, and a beautiful step son. I learned that it only takes a few things to bring everything crashing down.

It started in May of 2012, when the President of my company notified us that the business was closing for good effective the 1st of June. I had two weeks to find another job.

I immediately started combing the job sites, contacting friends, and doing an emergency search for jobs. The problem was that our company wasn’t the only one hurting. After a few weeks, and zero interviews, I was getting worried. My wife and I played poker nearly every day, quite successfully, and used the winnings to keep us afloat. This went on for over six months.

Then I saw an advertisement for a Director of Security position. It was an absolute perfect fit for my skill set. Lots of security reviews of facilities, personnel protection of company leaders, alarm systems, and best of all, training of employees. It was as if the position description had been written utilizing my resume’ as the format. The only problem? It was with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

As a former military member, and lifelong conservative, that did present a slight problem. However I justified my interest with the simple thought that my job wasn’t going to be doing abortions. My job was to protect the employees. I mean, everyone deserves a safe work place, right? And what they were doing was 100% legal, right?

So I applied, and as anticipated, they thought I was as perfect of a fit as I did. I even explained to them that although I didn’t personally like abortion, I certainly felt that people should not be in danger simply because they did.

And that’s where the happiness ended. Over the next year, I suffered from extreme depression, my wife and amazing step son moved out, I drank way too much, my weight ballooned, and overall my life went straight down the toilet. I spent day in and day out watching young women come in to the facilities with a hesitant smile, and leave in the afternoon in tears.

Protestors stood outside our facilities screaming some of the vilest things I have ever heard, all in the name of their Lord. Workers for the company would sit inside and make some of the worst jokes you’ve ever heard about abortions, birth control, and everything else associated with the organization and the women who were their patients.

I started out like every other employee, parroting the “we’re a women’s health organization”. Turns out, Planned Parenthood is an abortion facility. Sure, they do many other things, on a small level, but abortion is focus #1, every day, all day.

So I decided I had to get out. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I needed to get away from the protestors every bit as much as I needed to get away from the organization. We had some of the worst protestors in the country at the Denver main office. They screamed at my 5 year old step son. They followed my wife when she was driving.

Sure, I met some protestors that were wonderful. The Catholics are fantastic. A nun pulled me aside one time and simply prayed for me. And I’m not Catholic. But it was a wonderful prayer, and I thought she actually cared about me.

So there I was at a crossroads. I didn’t like where I worked, and I didn’t like those that protested where I work. I had talked to friends, neighbors, and someone suggested I contact Abby Johnson from And Then There Were None; an organization devoted to helping people quit Planned Parenthood and find jobs elsewhere.

Abby hooked me up with a corporate headhunter that rewrote my resume, and helped me with job interview skills. The headhunter even logged into my LinkedIn page and turned it into something usable. Abby’s organization provide me money to tide me and my family over during the transition and asked for nothing in return. She simply was there with a “what can I do for you” attitude.

Now, I have to tell you, in my time working for Planned Parenthood, I had done lots of investigations on Abby Johnson. We were on her mailing lists. We knew where she was, and ensured we had someone in her audience whenever she visited Colorado. I was told her book (unPlanned) was a lie, and she was evil. Turns out, everything I’d been told about her was a lie. The leadership of Planned Parenthood didn’t dislike her….they were afraid of her….because she was willing to tell the truth about things the people at Planned Parenthood hide. And believe me, they do hide things.

So, with the help of all these people, who have still asked for nothing more from me after all they did for me, I left. I’ve never looked back. I don’t miss it for a second.

If I have any advice upon leaving, I would give it to the following:

1. If you work for Planned Parenthood, all I ask is that you truly pay attention to what you’re being told, and try and see the lies as well as the truth.

2. If you’re a protestor outside the facilities, and you yell, scream, blow horns, and blare from megaphones….you are doing NOTHING to further the cause of eliminating abortion. Your actions hurt the cause. Most every pregnant woman who turns away when you get in their face returns when you’re not there. They go to the back gate where we would sneak them in. They come in before you get there. But you don’t stop them.

3. If you’re one of the peaceful protesters, keep doing the good work. Abortion will not be ended with hatred and screaming. The only thing that ever changes someone’s heart is love.

4. Read Abby’s book, Unplanned. I was told not to read it, because it was full of false information. What I found was that I never saw one word in the book that didn’t turn out to be 100% true. And from a personal perspective, Abby and her organization saved my life. She saved my marriage. She saved my future.

This letter was originally sent to Abby Johnson. For more information on her work, visit www.abbyjohnson.org. For help leaving the abortion industry, visit www.abortionworker.com.

COMING UP: Art: A needed sacrament of faith

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

A sacrament is an outward, material sign of an inward, spiritual reality. The seven sacraments are signs instituted by Jesus to communicate his grace to us. In addition, we have sacramentals, signs and practices that draw us more deeply into our faith. We do not have an abstract faith; it is sacramental and incarnational, centered on the coming into the flesh of the Son of God and his continued presence in the Church through the Eucharist.
Art, following this sacramental identity, expresses our faith, draws us into prayer, and mediates divine realities. In a time of relativism, which shuns proposals of truth and goodness, we need to rely more upon the witness of beauty. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this opportunity and need: “I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.”

Does this approach actually work for evangelization? Elizabeth Lev details one example, the crucial role of art at a time of crisis in the Church, in her book, How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art (Sophia, 2018). As core Catholic doctrines faced opposition from Protestants, the Council of Trent called for the creation of art to assist in renewal. The Council said that art should instruct, help to remember and meditate divine realities, admonish, provide examples, and to inspire the faithful to order their lives in imitation of the saints (4). Lev adds her own synthesis of how art assists the Church, asserting that “art is useful in evangelization…. can bring clarity…. [and] is uplifting” (6). The Catholic Reformation and Baroque periods, particularly in central Italy, were ages “of unprecedented art patronage from the top down, effectively a very expensive PR campaign meant to awaken the hearts and minds of millions of pilgrims who were making their way to the Eternal City” (5).

And it worked. It was not art for art’s sake that led Catholics to stay true to the faith, but art’s ability to express the deep spiritual vision of the Church as articulated by the great Catholic reformers. Lev lists the main protagonists of this cooperative work:  “The spiritual insight of Charles Borromeo, Robert Bellarmine, Federico Borromeo, St. Philip Neri, and Paleotti fused with the creative talents of Caravaggio, Barocci, the Carracci School, Lavinia Fontana, and Guido Reni, making for a heady cocktail designed to entice the faithful into experiencing mystery” (16). Lev provides a masterful overview of the key theological issues at stake and how artists were commissioned to visualize the faith in these areas, including the sacraments, mediation of the saints, purgatory, and practices such as pilgrimage.

Developments in technique enabled art to come alive, actively mediating faith, by using theatrical characteristics that invited the viewer into the drama of the scene. Altar pieces beckoned down to the action of the altar, pointing to the reality occurring there, such as Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ (37), and others drew the viewer into the scene, as with Frederico Barocci’s extended hand of St. Francis bearing the stigmata, inviting an imitation of Christ (145). Other paintings inspired religious sentiments such as contrition, as found in Reni’s St. Peter Penitent, who models how to weep for one’s sins and to beat one’s chest in repentance (45), and Titian’s good thief who reaches out to Christ as one would do in confession (52). The book beautifully presents the artwork, and Lev seamlessly combines art criticism and religious commentary.

The time period of Lev’s book bears some striking similarities to contemporary struggles. Many Catholics continue to question the faith, and we have experienced a return to iconoclasm in the last fifty years, bent on the destruction of the Church’s sacramental vision. We, too, need the inspiration of art, which calls us to renew our faith: “Art no longer allow[s] the viewer to stand at a safe distance, as a passive recipient of grace, but exhort[s] everyone to act” (180). For the success of the New Evangelization, we need a return to beauty. This will require us to invest in a renaissance of the arts, knowing that this investment will support the Church’s efforts to communicate the truth of our faith, for the salvation of souls.