RALEIGH — Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker moderated a pro-life forum Monday at Raleigh’s Beacon Hill Baptist Church that featured prominent anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson. Walker, himself a Baptist preacher, spoke with Johnson and two other women — Annette Lancaster and Sarah Eubanks — about their experiences as former abortion clinic workers.
Lancaster worked for Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill in 2015 and 2016 for nine months. She said that she was hired to be the health center manager but was soon given much more than she expected at the clinic, like holding the ultrasound wand during procedures and working in the “products of conception room,” where the parts of an aborted fetus are examined and inventoried.
“I was told, ‘There’s no quota, Annette. But your numbers are dropping,’” Lancaster said. “So when they brought me into the office and said, ‘You don’t belong here anymore,” I said, ‘You’re right. I don’t,” and I slid [over] my letter of resignation. And they were like, ‘No, you’re terminated.’ And I was like, ‘No, I quit.’ So, semantics. I quit. I was fired. I always say with our ladies that I was quit-fired. But either way, I don’t work in the industry anymore.”
Lancaster talked about some of her hardest moments about her time at the Chapel Hill center, including when girls as young as 12 years old would come in with no parent and a boyfriend in their 40s, and they would find a legal workaround so the parents wouldn’t have to be informed, or when women would come in for their 11th or 12th abortion and the staff would mock them and call them terms like “cows.”
Eubanks, from Mobile, Alabama, described growing up in a religious family but turning to drugs and promiscuity at 12 years old. She said she became pregnant at 19 years old and decided to get an abortion. Later, when she was a nursing student in 1990, she started working at the same clinic. She worked there for three years with doctors in the procedure room, identifying fetal remains and counseling women.
Johnson, who helps women like Lancaster and Eubanks leave the abortion industry, also worked at Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, for eight years. She said they have helped many hundreds of clinic workers leave and find new lives. She also became famous with a book and movie about her experience, called “Unplanned.”
Walker told a story about how when Johnson’s movie was screened on Capitol Hill, it had such a big impact that he knew of one Democrat who sneaked in the back to watch it and was moved on the issue.
“At Planned Parenthood, we understand that people have different thoughts and feelings about abortion, and we know that people’s beliefs can change over time,” Molly Rivera, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic told NSJ when asked to comment on the event. “Abby Johnson’s change of view on the issues of abortion and birth control, however, do not justify false claims about Planned Parenthood’s services and mission.”
Johnson talked about her group who have left the industry, who they call their “tribe,” comparing it to rescuing members of a cult. She said the kind of brainwashing and desensitization that goes into being brought into a cult is done by the abortion industry.
After the event, Walker told NSJ that he “proudly stands for life at all stages and all ages,” saying, “I wanted to associate myself with somebody who is one of the stronger voices” on the pro-life issue.
Walker said the two main points they wanted to get across with the event were, “God’s grace is sufficient no matter what you’ve gone through; and at the same time, calling out some of the fraudulent behavior of Planned Parenthood” and others in the abortion industry.
“I would hope not,” Walker said when asked if there was any daylight between him and other Republican candidates for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race in 2022. “I know my record is where it needs to be. There is lots of contrast in other areas, but in this one, from what I’ve understood, they’re both pro-life as well.”
Walker said what makes him the best candidate is that he can be “a conservative champion but that bridge builder as well.” He cited his work in inner cities as a pastor, the fact that he won the United Negro College Fund’s President’s Award and that he is “the only elected Republican that I’m aware of that has given the commencement at one of our Historical Black Colleges or Universities.”
“I know the former governor has a lot of name ID, but the good thing for us is that we have a year before the primary, and we’re going to be able to show, I think, a very stark contrast about who would be the best candidate to beat Chuck Schumer’s pick for the Democratic candidate,” Walker said.