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From Abortionist to Pro-Life Advocate: A Story of God’s Redemption (Part 1 of 2)

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From Abortionist to Pro-Life Advocate: A Story of God’s Redemption (Part 1 of 2)

Dr. Kathi Aultman was once an atheist and a staunch advocate for a woman's "right to choose" who supported that right by performing numerous abortions. On today's broadcast, she describes how she experienced a change of heart, found faith and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and became a passionate defender of pre-born life. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: January 22, 2020

Today's Guests

Episode Summary

Dr. Kathi Aultman was once an atheist and a staunch advocate for a woman's "right to choose" who supported that right by performing numerous abortions. On today's broadcast, she describes how she experienced a change of heart, found faith and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and became a passionate defender of pre-born life. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: January 22, 2020

Episode Transcript

Excerpt:

Dr. Kathi Aultman: And right at that time, Ted Bundy was big in the news. And I thought, “I’ve killed a lot more people than Ted Bundy.” But, um – that was the place where the scales totally fell from my eyes. And I understood what I was doing.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Dr. Kathi Aultman joins us today, sharing her powerful story of a life transformed. This is Focus on the Family. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, today is the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and that’s the – of course, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in this country.

As we continue to pray for and support the pro-life movement, um, I am constantly reminded by those here on the staff that work in this area that it is about both the baby and the woman. And sometimes – I think wrongly – some people accuse the pro-life movement of being only about the baby. But we’re about both. And we’re about everyone involved. There’s a man involved, too.

And so as we think of this disaster of a court ruling called Roe v. Wade and the maybe 50 to 60 million lives it has taken, we need to be prayerful today and every day for those women, the doctors and everybody involved to have an awakening similar to what our guest had. And we’re going to hear her story today.

John: Yeah, Dr. Kathi Aultman has over 30 years of experience as an OB-GYN. And for a time, she performed abortions. And she’s courageously agreed to share her story, and we’re grateful for that. It’s really a beautiful illustration of how God is able to work everything for good.

Dr. Aultman is an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and she’s also a wife, a mom and a grandmother.

Jim: Kathi, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Kathi: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here.

Jim: First of all, let me just say because the radio listeners can’t see you – the YouTube watchers can – but you just have a wonderful smile. I could – I mean, it’s like, you know, the Lord is on your face. And that’s a good thing. And it’s a great way to start this program because it’s a heavy topic we’re going to talk about.

Um, you have that unique perspective. And not only did you perform abortions as a doctor, but you had an abortion, personally. Paint a picture for us of your situation with that unplanned pregnancy. Where were you at, at the time? What was going on? And what happened that caused you to make that decision?

Kathi: Well, I had just graduated from college, and I had been accepted into medical school. Actually, I had worked for a year as a high school teacher at a Catholic high school…

Jim: OK.

Kathi: … with no teaching experience, um, but I needed to make money for medical school. So, I was working there. And on spring break I went to Florida to visit some relatives and met the man who ended up being my husband. And he talked me into moving down there for the summer and was very naive in my thinking about that.

Jim: How old were you at that time?

Kathi: 21 or something…

Jim: Early 20s.

Kathi: …Yeah, early 20s.

Jim: And also, spiritually, I mean, you weren’t – where were you at in terms of your faith and what you thought about God?

Kathi: Well, I – my dad was a Methodist preacher, so I grew up in the church. But it seemed to be more of a social Christianity than a personal relationship.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: And I remember thinking when I was confirmed that I would find out all the answers and everything would become clear. But it was more of a study on the roles of the church. And then I thought when the bishop laid his hands on me that, you know, there’d be this great revelation. And nothing happened. And so, I got discouraged.

And then when I went to college – and I went to Drew University, which has a seminary, but still, it was very liberal. And our orientation, they gave us a talk on sex, and it was by a married woman, and she was saying how wonderful it was and everything. And I always thought you should wait until marriage to have sex. And she never directly said that, but with everything she was saying, I got that impression that, yeah, it’s – it’s fine, it’s OK to do that. And so, then that just put a little chink in my armor.

Jim: Right.

Kathi: And, um, so to make a long story short, I ended up sleeping with my future husband. The very first time, I got pregnant. And I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to go to medical school.

Jim: That it would prevent you.

Kathi: That it would prevent me from going to medical school, prevent me from having my dream. And I was worried about what people would think. And I had this idea that if you got married because you had to get married because you were pregnant, it would end up in a divorce.

Jim: Right. That, um, that decision, how – how did you feel? It sounds like it was a very practical decision – you know? – kind of an if-then statement. If I’m pregnant, then I can’t go to med school, and med school’s my goal.

I’m sure you heard or heard about the Golden Globes and the comment that – I don’t even remember the person, but I heard a lot about it – who said, “I got an abortion because I wanted to be an actor, and I’m so glad I got the abortion because I was able to pursue my acting career.” Speak to women directly about that, that – that juxtaposition of the fact that taking your baby’s life is never a justification for your career. You can do a career. In fact, when you got to med school, you found a lot of women that had their babies and were in med school, right?

Kathi: Right. None of those reasons ended up being real reasons. Um, I met women in medical school who had already had their children and then gone to medical school. I realized my friends and my family that mattered would have supported me. And my marriage ended up in a divorce anyway.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: But going back to the Globes, I can see where she was coming from because that’s exactly where I was coming from. It was the “logical” thing to do. But later, after having a child and understanding what I had done, I realized at that point what I had done. And that was devastating.

Jim: Yeah, I mean, it is the taking of life. And you’ve been on both sides of this debate now. And you can speak forcefully to it. And we’re going to continue to talk to you about that and pull this out.

In medical school, um, you mentioned you were taught to compartmentalize your feelings. You know, a doctor has to see a lot of gruesome things. I mean, you see the body totally opened up. And – and you see a lot of things that happen to human beings. Explain how that factored into your thinking when you learned how to perform abortions. And I guess another question is, were you compelled in that direction to do abortion?

Kathi: I think I was compelled. Um, I… it was almost my mission. And I think some of that had to do with the fact that I’d had an abortion. And perhaps subconsciously I was feeling a need to justify. And – but I – I felt that no woman should have to have a baby she didn’t want, that we shouldn’t bring babies into a world where they might be neglected or abused. And I was concerned about overpopulation, all the things that you hear.

Jim: Sure.

Kathi: All those stereotypic things. But getting back to your question about compartmentalization, we do have to compartmentalize in medicine because we hurt people all the time. We do things that are unpleasant. Like you say, we – we open people up and, um, we see all sorts of things. And you become very good at compartmentalizing your feelings. The only time that I remember regretting abortions was during my neonatal intensive care rotation where we’re taking care of new – you know, these little preemies. And I realized that I was aborting babies the same age as the babies that were in the intensive care unit that I was trying to save.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: But once again, I was able to compartmentalize that and go on. I didn’t change my – didn’t change my feelings.

Jim: Let me ask you because I’m sure our listeners who are predominantly pro-life – I’m sure there’s some, you know, pro-choice people listening, too, but when you experience that, I mean, can you look back on that and try to estimate or guess why a physician who has that same experience doesn’t have that revelation? It doesn’t move them. They’re so compartmentalized that they don’t see the contrast, the fact that you’re trying to save a baby, but if you’re on another wing of the hospital, you’re trying to take that baby’s life. It just seems so inconsistent to most of us as pro-lifers, that a human being could not see that. That they’re that blinded.

Kathi: Because you’re so focused. How could I be so enthralled with little baby parts and think they were beautiful and, you know, looking at the little tiny toes and fingers and somehow not comprehend what I was doing to them? You know, how can you do that?

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: And I think it all comes back to that compartmentalization, that tunnel vision, that laser focus.

Jim: Absolutely.

Kathi: That’s all I can say.

Jim: Yeah, and hopefully, the prayers that those of us that believe in life can pray as to have a revelation for these people, that the Lord will let the scales drop from their eyes so that they can see, like you did, more clearly what they’re doing each and every day.

You said something that really caught my attention, um, that you actually could make more money as an abortion doctor than an emergency doctor.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: Wow. That’s profound. I don’t know if that’s true in every case, but that monetary thing has such a pull for some physicians. I – you know, “I can make a lot of money doing abortion.” That just sounds gruesome.

Kathi: Yeah. Abortion is big business. And, um, the time you’re referring to is when I was a resident and moonlighting. And yeah, to me, it was a lot easier to go do abortions and – and know exactly what you were getting into, uh, rather than working in the emergency room where there are emergencies and – and I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable handling all of those. And, yeah, it was more lucrative.

Jim: Let me ask you – um, you got married. Um, you got pregnant a second time. And while you were pregnant a second time, um, you were performing abortions as this baby’s inside of you, growing, being nurtured. Did that create some conflict for you as well?

Kathi: Not at the time. As matter of fact, this sounds sick, but I – um, I was proud of the fact. And it all came down to my baby was wanted; their baby was not. That was the distinction that I made. So, I felt fine about it. I – it wasn’t till later that I was really appalled. But at that time, I thought it was great.

Jim: You know, let me ask you, Kathi because that is such a forceful argument in your testimony, that – this idea of wanted, unwanted. Um, how do you now express that? I mean, you’ve had to rationalize that. And what I love about your tenderness in this is that these women are in tough places. And those of us in the pro-life community, uh, we may think it’s a black-and-white answer, but we’re not in their shoes. And you saw them. You were one of them, you know, a woman with an unwanted pregnancy.

I want to give you a chance right here just to make that case of every baby is a wanted baby according to God – right? …

Kathi: Mm-hm.

Jim: … and that perhaps we’re limited in how we see things. I would only say my own testimony. My mom – I was the fifth born to an older mom, 42. And in California in the ’60s, you could actually get an abortion if you were over 40 because they would consider it a medical necessity. And she considered aborting me. And we – she and my dad were struggling. They didn’t have money. We were in the poor part of town, all those things. But what’s so amazing is that that is not a justification to end someone’s life, is it?

God has his hand on these people, too, these children. And he’s gonna take them through the valleys and mountaintops that he chooses to. And not having enough money, to me, is such a weak argument, but I understand the fear of it.

So, let me give it to you. You speak to that wanted-unwanted idea that is so forcefully spoken by those who support abortion.

Kathi: To be begin with, I, loved my patients. And so, to see a woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy was very emotional for me, and I wanted to help her. And that’s why I felt so strongly about the importance of abortion and – and felt that it was really doing something wonderful for women by offering abortions. Doing the best abortion I could, getting extra training so I could do them later and later.

And it wasn’t until I had my baby that somehow, I made that baby-fetus connection. And suddenly the baby being unwanted was no longer enough justification for me to kill it. And that was the point where I realized I was killing human beings.

And I think what’s so critical is we have to take that same compassion that we have for women with unwanted pregnancies and consider this little person who is not going to be deprived of just a few months of their life but of an entire lifetime.

And I think that’s what we don’t see. We kind of see pregnancy as a black box. As a matter of fact, we call it termination of a pregnancy, not termination of a person.

Jim: Yes.

Kathi: And so, we – we’ve changed our language, um, to make it more palatable, I guess. But these are individuals who may become doctors or lawyers or scientists. We don’t know what they’re going to become.

Jim: Or just your neighbor.

Kathi: Just my neighbor. My dentist. My dentist would have been aborted had her mother not been too far along because her father wanted her aborted.

Jim: Ugh.

John: Mm.

Kathi: And, um, that was the other thing that changed my thinking… was watching little children grow up whose mothers had considered abortion. One who was going to medical school. And she got pregnant, and she chose life. And watching that little girl grow up, and another little girl with Down syndrome, who in many, many cases would have been aborted, and seeing what a wonderful person she is, those were things that changed my whole view about abortion.

John: We’re deeply appreciative today to have Dr. Kathi Aultman on Focus on the Family. And we’re going to encourage you to get a copy of this broadcast on CD or download it. Get our mobile app so you can listen again. Um, and get in touch with us if this is a point of pain for you. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. And online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Kathi, you had your wonderful baby girl. You returned to your practice. And I understand that you immediately felt a shift in your mindset. That was the beginning, I think, starting with a patient who was, as you describe it, apathetic about her abortion. What happened? And why did that bother you, her apathy? Here you were, an abortion doctor, and we all have a picture of what that looks like – very compartmentalized is a polite way of saying it, but very callous person who can take innocent human life without really much of a problem. So, you move from that, even the justification of it, having your baby girl. You come back to practice. And this patient did what that helped change your mind?

Kathi: Well, it was – I think it was the contrast. There were three patients. So, the first time I went back to the clinic I met these three people. And the first one was a girl who I had personally done three abortions on. And I hadn’t been doing them that long. And so, I went to the clinic manager, and I said, “I don’t want to do this.”

Jim: This would be her fourth abortion.

Kathi: This would be her fourth abortion that I did, not her fourth abortion, just the fourth abortion that I had personally done. And they said, “Well, it’s her right.”  You know, “It’s not a decision that you can make. You have to do the abortion.” And I looked at her, and I said, “Well, that’s fine for you to say. You’re not doing the killing.” So already, something had changed in my mind.

Jim: And that was different.

Kathi: That was the difference.

Jim: Then patient two?

Kathi: And then patient two came in with a friend, and the friend said, “Do you want to see the tissue?” And she said, “No, I just want to kill it.” And my heart just sank.

Jim: Mm.

Kathi: And I thought, what did that baby ever do to you? Well, again, something had changed because I said, “Baby.” I wouldn’t have said that before. Then the third person was a woman who had four children at home. She and her husband decided that they just couldn’t afford another, and so she was there to have – have an abortion. And she wept the entire time she was at the clinic.

And I didn’t understand this until years later when I was testifying, and it hit me that it was the contrast between the apathy of the first one and the hostility of the second with the misery and distress of the woman who knew what it was to have a baby, that made me suddenly realize that I couldn’t keep killing these innocent babies.

Jim: Yeah, so in that moment, your third patient, you’re sensing this difference now, the way you see the baby. The baby’s been humanized…

Kathi: Mm-hm.

Jim: … emotionally for you and intellectually for you. Now, what people may not realize, even though you were raised in a pastor’s home, Methodist pastor’s home, when you went off to college and residency and all that, you kind of lost faith in Christ, right? You became – I think you were self-described as an atheist at that time.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: Describe that for us what – you know, losing your faith, if I could say it that way from a human perspective. It’s obvious God never let go of you. But your perception was God was not real. Just mention that dynamic because that’s pretty important.

Kathi: I think it’s hard being a preacher’s kid because you see the inner workings of the church.

Jim: The underbelly.

Kathi: The underbelly (laughter).

Jim: The humanness (laughter).

Kathi: And I saw people being mean to my dad and things that they did, and they were supposed to be such good churchgoers. And I think I began to feel that they were hypocrites. And then going to a very liberal college, getting all these new ideas, and I – I became an atheist. I felt that God was just the opiate of the people that…

John: Huh.

Jim: A old Marx saying.

Kathi: Right, right. And after that, there was this series of events. I met my husband. I had the abortion. And it really wasn’t until 11 years later that God got hold of me again. And I made my decision to stop abortions prior to becoming a Christian. And while I was – and even after I became a Christian, I still believed in abortion. It was later that I came to understand that abortion was murder.

Jim: And let’s talk about that process. I mean, in terms of coming to that understanding. I’m sure there are people listening right now who may be in that spot. They believe in Christ. And – and yet, they still have not integrated that into a pro-life perspective.

In fact, I’ll ask it this way. Many people think the issue of abortion is purely political. The Democrats believe this. The Republicans believe this. And it’s just been politicized. But it is not that. We always argue here at Focus on the Family, this is a national, moral issue. It transcends politics. It may be expressed because of the Supreme Court in a political context.

But this is about human beings killing other human beings for all kinds of reasons – financial, convenience, wanted, unwanted, what have you – and the morbidness of that. And the good news is, Dr. Kathi, is that more and more young people are realizing this is not ethical. This is not something we want to be known for. So, let me give you the field there. Speak to all of that and what you’ve seen.

Kathi: I think during the era of Roe v. Wade, the entire country was effectively brainwashed, and we became so focused on the poor woman that we totally negated the humanity of the, quote, “fetus” of the baby. We changed the terminology.

And, um, the powers that be were – were very effective in changing the thinking of the entire nation. I think that’s why now young people aren’t buying it. That there are more and more pro-life young people, because they didn’t have that same propaganda.

Everything you looked at – if there was a movie, in the movie there would be this poor woman that either died from having an abortion or her room – her life was ruined, um…

Jim: Because of the baby.

Kathi: Because of the…

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: Having to have the baby. And so, we effectively were under this intense indoctrination, and it had changed the thinking of the entire nation.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: People have made changes on an individual level, I think, where God has touched their hearts, and suddenly they realize that it’s true spiritual blindness, I think.

Jim: So, there you are. You’re this Christian. You’re still struggling with becoming pro-life. And that’s what I love about your story, is that it’s all of it. You’re an atheist pro-choice person. Then you’re a seeking person getting concerned about doing abortion. You stop doing abortion, but – and turn your heart to God, but you’re still supportive of others, uh, seeking and doing abortions. And then where’s that moment where – bang – the scales totally fall?

Kathi: That happened through really good Christian friends who didn’t yell at me or berate me. They accepted me for who I was.

And then at one point, one of them was brave enough to say, “Kathi, I know that you feel really strongly about abortion, but would you consider reading this article?” And the article was comparing abortion to the Holocaust. And it’s significant because my dad was in World War II, and he was there when the first concentration camp was liberated. So, I grew up with all those pictures and stories.

And when I became a doctor, I couldn’t understand how the German doctors could do what they did. And so, as I read that article, I suddenly realized how they could do what they did because they were just like me.

Jim: Huh.

Kathi: They didn’t consider the fetus as a human being. And that was the first time that I realized that I was a mass murderer. And right at that time, Ted Bundy was big in the news. And I thought, “I’ve killed a lot more people than Ted Bundy.” But that was the place where the scales totally fell from my eyes. And I understood what I was doing.

Jim: Yeah. I mean, that is powerful. I see it in your eyes. The tears are there, and you carry that burden. And obviously, you know this, but the Lord has lifted that.

Kathi: Mmm hmm.

Jim: And accepts you and loves you for who you are in him. And – and that’s true for all of us. And we all fall short. And that’s why you saw the hypocrites at your dad’s church.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: Right.

Jim: Because we’re really just human, and we’re exercising poor judgment and misinformed ideas about God’s heart.

Kathi, we are out of time today, but I want to come back next time, continue the discussion, talk about, um, those additional powerful experiences that you’ve had.

You stopped performing those abortions, as you said. You became a committed Christian. Uh, but let’s continue the discussion next time.

To the listener, let me say this, there’s a couple of key takeaways. Um, God is here and ready to meet you. I hope you hear that. He can forgive you. He’s the only one. Um, John, you and I can’t forgive people. Your pastor can’t forgive you with any authority. He can facilitate it, but it’s God who forgives you. And he’s willing and wanting to have that relationship with you. In fact, his word says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And, uh, man, that’s in the book of John. And he also says there, “The one who comes to me, I will never drive away.”

And think of you as a teenager, Kathi. You came to him even with all of that going on in your home and all the hypocrites at the church, and he didn’t turn you away. I mean, you wandered, but he brought you back, and that’s so beautiful. Can you join us next time? Let’s keep going.

Kathi: OK.

John: Mmm. And I’m sure we’ll hear more about, uh, the power of God’s forgiveness in your life and, uh, so much more from Dr. Kathi Aultman as we continue the conversation next time.

Uh, for now let me just, uh, say that we do have counselors here. Jim noted that earlier. If you’re struggling, if this topic of abortion, if this subject matter has been a part of your journey, then call us and let us be a help in some restoration and some healing steps. We’d be happy to schedule a time for you to get, uh, connected with a counselor. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

And let me just mention, online we also have a little booklet called Coming Home, which will explain more in depth what it means to come to Jesus and accept him as your Savior and find that life that he has for you.

Jim: Hey, John. Just quickly, too – again, this Friday, uh, the 24th, that’s the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Folks, if you can get out there, come join 200,000 or so people to speak for the preborn child and that mom.

And then again, May 9, we have a live 2020 coming. A Focus on the Family event that’s gonna be in five locations. You can go to our web site and see that information. But come out on that day, too, in those five cities and participate.

And then finally, uh, our wonderful Option Ultrasound program. I mean, uh, Dr. Kathi, abortions cost about 6-700 dollars. We can save a baby’s life for $60. Isn’t that awesome? And I would like to encourage you to consider that. Make a gift of $60 to save a baby’s life. And, uh, that’s, uh – right now we’ve already hit 440,000 babies’ lives saved. Isn’t that great? Four hundred forty thousand! I’m excited about that. I hope you will be as well and jump in. Be a part of it. Join team heaven in saving lives. Sixty dollars will save that baby’s life.

John: And you can make that, uh, $60 donation to save a baby’s life when you call 800-A-FAMILY or, again, online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks so much for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue the conversation and once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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